CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Josh McDowell, an apologist and evangelist, spoke at Southern Evangelical Seminary's Christian Apologetics conference on three culture changes that create a "perfect storm" that challenges and poses a threat to the church.
McDowell says the first is an epistemological shift that is occurring regarding Biblical truths due to modern perspectives on God's word.
"We've had a major shift in what truth is and where it comes from. We've gone from being God-centered to self-centered, from being objective to being subjective and from being internal to external," he said.
He argues that the truth that the church upholds is merely viewed as personal opinion by some people, especially young individuals due to the idea that most think that God is dead.
"In 1991, 51 percent of evangelical young adults said there is no truth apart from their own views. Today, that number is 91 percent," said McDowell.
The respected apologist also says the Internet's "exploding information" plays a major factor in challenging the way young people view culture, the church and their moral views. According to his research, millions of youths take in about 34GB of Internet data each day, which is equivalent to the amount of lyrics found in 8,160 songs.
"Every pastor, youth pastor, and every parent is in competition with the Internet and the information it is spreading," said McDowell. "Most young people don't get their news from CNN or CBS, they get it from bloggers. There are about 181 million bloggers vying for the attention of your children."
The unlimited amount of online information that people have access to has caused an increase in skepticism that will only continue to become more pervasive, says McDowell.
"If you don't believe me, go around and talk to young people in colleges and in junior high. Go and make 'truth statements' and you'll hear them say, 'How do you know that's true?' There's so much out there," said McDowell. "[For] every kid, even Christians, the age of the Internet is wearing down their convictions because they think tomorrow they'll find something else."
He continued, "Fifteen to 20 years ago, the questions that you used to hear at universities about faith, Jesus and the Bible, about skepticisms, questioning what you believe in; questions that you used to hear in the last two years of college are now being asked by 10- and 11-year-olds. It's coming all right down through Facebook."
During his message, he also told pastors they cannot pastor the same way they have been for the last 20 years while telling parents they cannot raise their children the same way they were raised because the Internet has changed "everything."
"Twenty years ago, the phrase was, 'if you don't reach a young person by 18, you probably won't reach them. Now, atheists and agnostics have the same access to your kids as you do, it's just one click away. The internet has leveled the playing field and now if you don't reach a child by their 12th birthday, you won't reach them."
In the same manner, McDowell emphasized that young people are increasingly becoming addicted to pornography, adding that it is the greatest threat to the body of Christ in 2,000 years.
"This is destroying pastors, youth pastors and more Christians than anything by far in history," said McDowell. "The number one demographic is 12- to 25-year-olds, there's no difference in and out of the church."
He added that 50 percent of fundamental, evangelical pastors watch porn while 80 percent of youth pastors have a problem with porn as well. McDowell pointed out that porn provides only a momentary satisfaction and porn addicts often seek other opportunities to satisfy their sexual desires.
"The average person starts with heterosexual sex then after a while, that no longer satisfies, then there's anal, from anal there's oral, from oral to homo, from homo to bestiality then to children," said McDowell.
He continued, "The sad thing is, after child pornography doesn't satisfy, where do you go? Pornography is why sex-trafficking, sex abuse and rape are major issues, they (addicts) end up living it out, it becomes a reality."
He also advised parents to not shelter their children from "what's out there" but rather prepare them for the first time they will inevitably encounter information overload on the Internet and porn.
"You cannot protect your child from watching pornography, if you think you can, then you're the problem, mom. If you're sitting there thinking, 'I can protect my child,' then you'll end up losing them and the stats are on my side."
He added, "It's as dumb as saying, 'you can't ever listen to music,' in our culture. You can't go through life without listening to music, and now, you're not going to go through life without watching porn. Those mothers who say they're going to prepare their child will win, those who say they will protect them will lose."