Dan Juster

Restoration From Zion
"'They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.'"

The Loss of Our Young Adults

For the last few years, I have been trying to grasp why it is that so many young people in the West are being lost from our faith. This is also happening in Messianic Judaism, and to a degree also in Israel.

Of course, we can give many reasons. I have written in the past of two primary factors. First is a lack of a deep spiritual experience in New Covenant realities, including the experiences of forgiveness in Yeshua, the Father's love in Yeshua and the presence and power of the Spirit. The second is the lack of discipleship in the kind of apologetics that prepares the young adult for what he or she is to face in the world outside of our believing community. The world's message is massively powerful and influences our young people from childhood, through college and, in Israel, the Army. It is pervasive in the media and is more contrary to Biblical faith than ever.

The Loss of Commitment to Seek the Truth

I want to stress one aspect of the second reason, specifically the loss of a commitment to truth and the search for the truth.

After a personal breakdown and semi-loss of faith in college, at age 19 I began a search, hoping against hope that I would find ultimate truth and meaning. After almost four years, I once again became convinced of the truth of the Bible through exposure to overwhelming scholarly evidence and profound personal spiritual experiences.

For well over 100 years, the academic world has had professors who taught that there is no ultimate meaning to the Universe; that there is no ultimate Truth; that human beings are radically free and can choose to define themselves however they might desire. These philosophies were refuted by very capable thinkers: secular, Jewish and Christian. Yet people do not often make decisions on the basis of truth, instead generally choosing their orientation to life on the basis of subjective factors that have little to do with evidence.

Today's culturally pervasive post-modernism teaches that there is no ultimate narrative to explain existence (meta-narrative) so that on the level of religious truth we have no way to judge one world view over against another. As such there is an equalization of all religions, and one preference becomes as good as another. Indeed, suggesting that one is superior to another is considered gross prejudice. Of course, this trivializes claims of religious truth. Consistent radical post-modernists also apply this to a world-view of naturalistic evolutionary naturalism. As the famous American philosopher Thomas Nagel argued, the theory of evolution is today's controlling myth, the narrative for those who do not want to believe in God. Those who try to oppose evolution or point to its difficulties are labelled and persecuted as being anti-scientific.

A Relativist Society

After 100 years of trying, the relativists have now captured the society at large. It is not so much that young people today lose their confidence in our faith after seriously seeking the truth. It is that they imbibe an orientation to life that does not care about the truth! Caring about the truth as I did in college would be looked upon as a waste of time. The orientation is already to reject the quest. So, many young adults do not search for the truth, but instead choose how they want to live on the basis of emotional proclivities with perhaps some mental reflection. Consequently, you rarely see a young adult who is leaving or has left the faith saying that they are in pain over questions about faith, and that they will enter a time of searching, study and evaluation to see if what they had been brought up to believe is true. Or to dialogue with the best educated proponents of the Biblical worldview. There is no inclination to do such a search! The drive to fit into the larger culture is a major motivation.

It reminds me of two people in our congregations in America who walked away from our faith. One was a highly educated professional. In a moment of honesty, he conceded that it was not about evidence. It was about wanting to be in the mainstream of the Jewish community. The other was a businessman who walked away because being a believer was contrary to the hard-nosed attitude associated with business success.

Love the Truth

Our young adults are brought up in a culture that does not pursue truth. We are in great danger because this orientation prepares the way for the Anti-Christ: "They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:10, NIV). Over the decades I have found that if a person can be brought to the place of asking God to reveal the truth, and then orient to study and seek the truth, the person usually becomes a believer in Yeshua.

Our challenge is to orient our young people to be truth seekers and to believe that there is an ultimate Truth. It is also to teach that the loss of seeking the truth and replacing it with the desire to be in the mainstream culture, is actually choosing self-centeredness above living by the Truth. Showing and teaching this approach gives an essential foundation for young people in defending their faith.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster is on the board of Tikkun International and oversees the Tikkun America network of congregations. Donate to Restoration from Zion.
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06:58 01Jun17 Liv Hicks -
Excellent article, my children are caught up in this and this article helps me in my praying.

  -- Dr Juster replies: May God give you great power in prayer!!!

08:55 01Jun17 Becky Ray -
This article is so true, sad to say. I know that we are living letters to others, so the way we live and walk in love will draw our youth back to Yeshua, along with our prayers.

14:59 01Jun17 Don Burr -

15:41 Wayne Fleming -
Excellent Article and so true. In the last days they will seek for themselves teachers, having itchy ears and would rather hear a lie than received the truth. They would rather hear an M&M sermon to peak their emotions rather than being exercised by the truth.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, dear brother. You are right and it is sad but true. Much prayer is needed.

01:28 02Jun17 Frank Onofrio -
There is a lot of truth in this article. But there is one more important factor: namely that science seems to have disproved the Bible, or at least parts of the Bible when it comes to the age of the Earth, evolution vs creationism, a world-wide flood in Noah's day, etc. However, this is a completely false belief! I would strongly suggest people examine Reasons to Believer's "Biblical Creation Model". Because the Holy Spirit participated in both the recording of God's Word & the creation of the natural world, the two must agree if there is both good theology (the study of God's Word) and good science (the study of nature).

  -- Dr Juster replies: I agree and would say that the idea that science is contrary to biblical truth is a modern myth.

06:47 02Jun17 Maureen Brunt -
Heart breaking to find that church leaders and the church in general subscribe to a weak gospel rather than teaching the Father heart of God and the fullness of salvation.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, may we see teachers that fully express the whole counsel of God.

08:38 02Jun17 Lonnie Lane -
I find this isn't just about young folks, but "lazy faith" takes out people of our older generation as well. Could this also have to do with the fact that there is no real discipleship in the Body? Believers young and older have been hearing sermons or Bible studies on this or that but it appears most have no real grasp of the whole counsel of God. I was 'discipled' properly as a new believer and so know the difference. The idea that "accepting the Lord" is salvation without understanding or commitment to what it is to walk in obedient holiness before the Lord appears to have been lost to most as their reality. We hold out hope for the faithful remnant of whom Yeshua spoke in the "Blesseds" of Matthew 5.

  -- Dr Juster replies: It seems that the ability to disciple has been mostly lost to much of the Church.

06:21 03Jun17 HS -
This is exactly what has happened to our young adults. As a parent of a prodigal, all I can do is pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to pursue my son. Yeshua, our Shepherd, looks after His flock and rescues His lost sheep. I pray for all the lost sheep in this world ...

08:17 03Jun17 Susan Kampschmidt -
Agreed! You hit the bullseye with this article ... the truth! I have a "scientific and businessman minded" husband and the 3 sons and 2 granddaughters who all decided along the way to follow the culture instead of seeking the Truth. Praying every day for them and families everywhere for Adonai to turn the tide and bring them back to His Truth.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I am glad you put "scientific" in quotes. Actually true science supports belief as many top scientists have noted. Michael Polanyi, Werner Von Braun (the founder of our rocket program) and many more. Underneath the word science is a hidden assumption of scientism that is not science. It is that material causation is the total sum of explanation for reality. This simply has been proven false in philosophy again and again. May we see a return to spirituality and real rationality and not the myth of scientific explanation for all things.

13:34 03Jun17 Pastor Israel -
My take about our young people losing faith midstream is that the Ekklesia is far from what apostle Paul believed and taught. He told the Corinthians and I quote ... "my message to you was not in wise and persuasive words of human wisdom, but with demonstration of Spirit's power so that your faith will not rest on man's wisdom but on GOD'S POWER". Today the in thing is apologetics. You win over a young person or even an older person by your gift of the gab and when they meet somebody with better rap they go! Let's return to roots.

18:16 03Jun17 Ruth -
Good observations. We have scholars whose hippie grandparents taught them to "question authority". The church, Catholic and Protestant, had a lot of authority in the past. But there is much sin in the church, all our faults are getting exposed, now they are disgusted. If the church is claiming all the blessings (replacement theology) we will also get all the curses - which I believe is what is happening now. We need to pray for the Lord to draw these young people to Himself ... we can't do it on our own.

02:37 22Jun17 Aloysius Abdiel -
Many are called but few are chosen.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Asher Intrater: Jerusalem and Eden One
David Shishkoff: The Practice of Honor
Eitan Shishkoff: Baruch Haba 2017
Yevgeni Stanukevich: Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Returning Exiles
Mati Shoshani: Our Part in the Kingdom of God
Ariel Blumenthal: An Application for "Jewish Roots" Today