During July I spoke a couple of times locally to high school and college kids home for the summer. Charity had told me about a wonderful Christian couple she had met at work who have three children in their early twenties—Charity’s age—all of whom have now fallen away from the faith. When Charity asked one of the daughters why she was no longer involved, her reply was, “It’s just not relevant to my life.” This reply absolutely baffled me. I said to Charity, “She must be presupposing that Christianity isn’t true.” (If Christianity isn’t true, then, of course, it’s not relevant to one’s life.) But it just floored me that any intelligent person could think that Christianity could be true and yet irrelevant. This got me so worked up that I decided to speak to the students on the topic “Is Christianity Irrelevant?” I argued that if Christianity is true, then it is hugely relevant because (1) there is meaning to your life, (2) there are objective values in life, (3) there is a purpose to your life, (4) there is hope for deliverance from the shortcomings of life, (5) there is forgiveness for your guilt, and (6) you can know God personally for eternity. Clearly, if Christianity is true, then it’s enormously relevant! So the question is, is it true? Well, that was the topic the students wanted me to discuss the following week, and so we did. I laid out a basic case for the truth of the Christian faith and then we talked about it. There were a couple of thoughtful atheists in the group that night, and I especially enjoyed discussing their questions with them.
It is amazing to me as well that Christians should somehow think of Christainity as irrelevant without coming to believe that it is false. But you know what is even more amazing? Church leaders who "dumb down" the content of Christianity for the sake of making it relevant. Some people want to make the church more seeker-friendly, and I find that fully acceptable. But my idea of seeker-friendly is sponsoring open-dialogue sessions in which it is considered OK to consider perspectives other than a Christian perspective. So if someone has doubts about the faith, we don't chase them away with churchy talk, we create as much open dialogue as possible. At the same time we must not de-emphasize, but rather must emphasize, the fact that Christianity is a claim that is either true or false, if it's true it's the deepest truth about God's relation to humanity and it is on that account as relevant as it could be, and if it's not true it's about as relevant as Ptolemaic astronomy.
I have a warm place in my heart for atheists, because these people realize that Christianity must be either true or false, and that matter a heck of a lot whether or not it is true or false. The idea that one can decide the question of whether or not to be a Christian, not on whether it is true, or whether it is relevant, means that people do not understand what Christianity is about.
The following essay on C. S. Lewis by Dallas Willard speaks to this matter.