Drew Dyck: There's probably a large range of things, but I think one of the common ones that I've seen is starting to hazard guesses as to why they left or just telling them why you believe they left. Saying something like, "You're just doing that because you're compromising morally, and you can't hack it as a Christian anymore. So you're changing your creed to match your conduct. Even if you're right, it's not going to be helpful for facilitating productive dialogue with that person going forward.
I think another thing people get wrong is they immediately try to argue. I love apologetics; they are absolutely essential. We have to study, know why we believe what we believe, but when you just jump into that after someone tells you they no longer believe, that can be unhelpful as well. I think the first thing to say instead is to just affirm your love for them. Say to them, "I understand that you're changing your stance on faith. This doesn't change our relationship.
I love you. I'm not going anywhere. So to hear that kind of affirmation from you is essential. If we suspect that someone is leaving, in the process of leaving, or has left it in some way, is this something that we should always wait for them to bring up and to disclose with us? Or is there a way that might be healthier for us to kind of be vulnerable first? Drew Dyck: I think it's okay to broach the topic if you suspect that someone has been on a certain trajectory. You don't want to be accusatory, obviously, because that can be threatening, and they may not be ready to open up to you.
But if you can ask open-ended questions like, "Hey, where are you at these days spiritually? And then if they do open up, it's really important to hear them out entirely without jumping in, without interrupting, without arguing. For my first book, I tracked down dozens of mainly somethings that had walked away from the faith, and it was a good practice for me because I love to argue, love to get in there and try to mix it up, but I was, you know, playing the journalist so I had to kind of bite my tongue and just kind of listen to their entire story for an hour or two.
And it was incredible to me. Some of them even said, "It's so good to have someone listen to my story, to actually get this all out. And often the very first things they say aren't the real issues. They might have an intellectual objection to the faith, but then you dig into the story a little more and you hear a little more about their journey, and they had some awful experience—even in their childhood—in the church, and that's maybe the core issue.
So it's really important to kind of get the full story at first—without judgment, without arguing—because if you're going to have a productive conversation going forward, it has to start that way. Josh Harris said he was in the process of deconstruction and he equated that with falling away. Do you think it's appropriate to say that deconstruction is synonymous with leaving the church or leaving the faith or is that something different?
Drew Dyck: I think it's something different. I think "deconstruction" and "falling away" are different. I was a little surprised to see him equating those two. Often people use a term like "deconstruction" to mean a rejection of the faith, but I think more often they don't. I think usually they're talking about inheriting a faith from parents or childhood and realizing that the older they get, as they study, the more they need to make it their own. And so it's going to change. I mean how many of us can say that our faith is identical to what it was when we were teenagers, right?
That's incredibly rare. I think in some way we all go through subtle deconstructions in our faith, and that's okay as long as there's a construction.
1. The Commissioning of Joshua (Joshua 1:1-18)
I mean, the term deconstruction comes from literary criticism, and it doesn't mean to tear down something. It actually means to expose the tensions within a text and kind of see how it's put together, what power dynamics are at play. And so in the best sense, deconstruction of faith can actually be a positive thing. Where you're just giving it a closer analysis and truly trying to understand how your faith works, what's essential, what's inessential, what's cultural, what's truly biblical.
I do think that people can go through a healthy deconstruction that ends up with a stronger faith. So yeah, I think deconstruction can be a healthy thing and is not synonymous with falling away. When somebody is saying that they've left the church and decided they're not a Christian anymore, it's easy to treat that as the final word on the subject. What would you say to people who are tempted to treat it as the last word in the conversation?
Drew Dyck: Obviously, if someone has totally rejected the faith and walked away and made that announcement, it's hard to get them to come back to church and open to coming back to the faith. I'm not going to pretend it isn't, but it's also not hopeless. If that person at one point was a passionate believer and really ascribed to these things and they changed their minds, who's to say that they won't change their mind again in the future? People certainly aren't static in their faith journey, so I encourage people not to give up even when it seems hopeless.
When I did my interviews with all these self-described ex-Christians, one of the questions I asked was if they ever still pray. And I was amazed. Most of them, with a couple of exceptions, admitted that at times they still do.
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And they were these angry, very honest, desperate sorts of prayers, yet for me that was encouraging. I do believe that God still works in people's hearts, even when they seem like they have left the fold. So yeah, we don't want to give up on these people, and I believe God hasn't given up on them. He's the Good Shepherd that leaves the 99 to go searching for the one, and we have to have that same heart, that same commitment, and that same hope. There is a caveat. You certainly don't want to say things like, "God will bring you back. And secondly, it's kind of patronizing and dismissive of the current position that they're in.
Joshua's Conquest: Was It Justified? - NAMB
I know that I feel the same way when I've talked with atheists that say, "You'll see the light. Once you get smart enough, you read enough, you're going to disavow your faith. And so that's certainly not helpful either. You can express your desire that they would come back to their faith, and yet to tell them it's going to happen, I think it's a mistake.
Can you tell us statistically why people leave Christianity here in the West? And what's different about the numbers of people who are leaving Christianity today as opposed to 50 or 60 years ago? Drew Dyck: There has definitely been an acceleration in the number of people in the West claiming to have no religion. When I wrote my book in , 22 percent in the younger cohort of 18 to 30 claimed to have no religion. Many of those had grown up in Christian homes. And that was a huge spike because the numbers before that were from that showed 11 percent. Today, it's at 34 to 36 percent.
As far as why they leave, that's a tough one. You might assume that they all leave because they read Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens and became angry atheists. But statistically speaking, the vast majority of people who leave the faith of their childhood do so because "they gradually drifted away"—71 percent, according to one Pew study, reported they just gradually drifted away. And those people often don't have huge barriers to belief. They aren't angry at God or have huge intellectual objections to Christian beliefs and practices.
It may just mean they need a Christian friend or family member to come alongside them and kind of pull them back into the church and kind of a challenge them to take a second look at the faith. What is a posture that you would recommend friends take to friends with regards to this? What are good questions to ask? Or what are good ways to talk about this in a way that respects the relationship and respects the other person but also lets them know that you care deeply about keeping this part about them engaged? Drew Dyck: The words that come to mind for me are empathy and curiosity.
You don't want to be too aggressive and come out swinging when you learn that a friend has walked away from their faith.
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On the other hand, don't say, "That's your journey. This is mine. You do you; I'll do me. You don't want to hit them with a lot of grief either, but you want to say, "That's concerning to me. I'm curious about where you're at. Can you tell me more about your journey and where you're at and how you got there? So many of these stories of people leaving their faith, if you dig down deep enough into them, the break from their faith actually happened in the context of a relationship.
They felt maybe alienated in their youth group, or they were abused by a spiritual authority, or they have relational issues with their parents. Whatever it is, it often plays a role. I think to maintain those relational bonds are crucial so that when that person does have a crisis in their life, or they start doubting their doubts, you are that person that they turn to and it's a huge honor if you can retain that relationship and be the person that they want to have spiritual conversations with.
Drew Dyck: That's a dicey one. Beware of how you have an incredibly close relationship with this person as their parent. Often when they're walking away from their faith, sometimes they're pushing back against you a little bit. You don't want to make the relationship they have with you a referendum on God. And so this is where you really have to be careful in affirming and loving them as your son, as your daughter.
I've talked to so many people that will not have these conversations with their parents because their parents have preached at them, they told them they're going to hell, they have just ripped into them, and it becomes the sore point even if they stay connected to their parents. It's just like a no-go topic for them. So really work hard to be gentle, sensitive, and open. And you can even just say, "Hey, I'm concerned. I know we're at different places when it comes to God. I'd love to continue the conversation. I'm not here to judge you. I'm not here to preach at you.
But anytime you want to talk about it, I'm here. I think so often a lot of people when they have a loved one that leaves the faith, it's incredibly disconcerting to you and instead of joyfully living out your faith you actually adopt this dour demeanor because you are so concerned about it.
And so whenever you're around this person, you're like an Eeyore or something. You want to show that you're still enjoying your faith, that it's something that's enriching your life, and that you're still passionately following Jesus. Because ultimately the best apologetic is a life lived for Christ. And so if you can demonstrate that to the people that you love, that's huge.
Get the picture: the tribe of Joseph split into two, with one son Ephraim representing one line of Joseph, and the other son Manasseh representing a second line of Joseph. But removing the tribal name of Joseph still leaves us with 13 tribes of Israel. Later, out in the Wilderness, God would adopt the tribe of Levi away from the nation of Jacob the nation of Israel and thus we are back to 12 tribes plus Levi. They would serve Yehoveh as His priests and as those who cared for His sanctuary. Thus since the Levites were no longer a tribe of Israel, they had no right to inherit any part of the Promised Land.
Further, as we covered one chapter back, the Lord would share some of His holy property with them a unique privilege that would never be afforded to the 12 tribes. However the Levites had to live somewhere so they were to be given cities within each of the 12 tribal territories as well as some pastureland outside of each city for their livestock.
So we get this mysterious and quite profound lesson from what God ordained for His servants, His priests, the tribe of Levi:. What does this say to us in the 21st century when it is made abundantly clear in the New Testament that as disciples of Yeshua, as Believers in the God of Israel, that we are His new priesthood? This is the mindset about our position before God, and in our relationship with this world, that we are to adopt. We are to see our inheritance as God Himself, and thus not strive to build up treasures that moth and rust doth corrupt at the cost of our relationship with the Lord.
Thus we see the priests and Levites that do NOT work full time at the Temple having jobs, trades, and so forth to support themselves and their families. They are not to achieve economic advantage by being a servant of God. At some point the reasonable need for receiving a decent living and thus being paid for carrying the Gospel to others can turn into selling the Gospel for profit. A passion and a duty can become no more than a profession.
The first tribe on the west side of the Jordan to receive their inheritance was Judah. Verse 8 begins the story of just how it was that it happened this way. The camp of Israel was still located in Gilgal; and some of the clan leaders of the tribe of Judah approached Joshua; specifically it was the clan of Kalev Caleb who sought to receive their land inheritance NOW.
So in rather typical Middle Eastern fashion Kalev reminds Joshua of what happened many years earlier, out in the wilderness, when Moses put together a scouting party of 12 to reconnoiter the Land of Canaan. Kalev and the man he is now beseeching to give him land, Joshua, were among those But the scouting party returned with bad news: the enemy was too well fortified and there were fierce warriors called the Anakim, giants, who were sure to annihilate Israel. Kalev and Joshua, however, disagreed not with the assessment but with the conclusion. They agreed that the challenge was great and dangerous but that if God be with them, victory was theirs.
The majority won out and Israel was turned back into the desert to wander for 38 more years. This is actually rather startling when we understand what this means. Kenaz was descended from Edom, a non-Israelite tribe. So here we have Kalev who is closely tied to the Edomites, but yet a member of the tribe of Judah, asking for his land inheritance.
And that is exactly as God intended. The Lord told Abraham that any foreigner who wanted to join the Hebrews should be welcomed, with the understanding that to join meant to worship only the God of Abraham. Later we find in the early development of the nation of Israel founded by Jacob that most of the people that he took with him as Israelites to Egypt were actually foreigners that he had captured from Shechem. Kalev reminds Joshua that Moses promised to given him the land of his choice; particularly land that Kalev had personally scouted out. We get an interesting and helpful piece of information in verse 10; it says that a Kalev was 40 years old when he went with the group of 12 scouts into Canaan, and that this event occurred 45 years earlier making Kalev 85 years old.
Since Israel was out of Egypt for about 2 years when they arrived at Kadesh-Barnea and organized the scouting party, that means that at the time of this meeting between Kalev and Joshua, about 7 years had passed since Israel had crossed over the Jordon River. So all these battles we have been reading about have taken place during a 7-year time span. We also find out that the Anakim, that race of giants, controlled the area of Hebron. Now, in reality, Kalev asked for a whole lot more than what he wound up with.
He wanted all the land that he set his foot upon in Canaan; but he got Hebron and the contiguous land. And of course this was a reward for his steadfastness in standing with Moses and the Lord, facing down his brethren, and taking a most unpopular position that Israel should ignore the strength of the enemy and proceed in faith to attack Canaan. Any tribal society would understand this perfectly. Just as different tribes were more and less populous and more and less powerful than others, so were the clans within the tribes that formed the tribes.
A tribe was only a collection of clans; warfare within a tribe was between clans. Kalev getting first choice of land within the tribe of Judah meant his was undoubtedly the most powerful clan within Judah. Yet as choice as was the land that Kalev asked for, it was an unconquered land.
Understand that the division of land at this point was to serve several purposes among which was that the tribe who received a certain territory had to finish conquering it, and then they had the task of maintaining control and dominance over it indefinitely. This indicates a pause in the action. But we should notice that at this point only the smallest distribution of land had taken place; only one clan from one tribe Judah had by now received any allocation of property within the Land of Canaan.
Even though the earlier verses spoke about Ephraim and Manasseh in the context of them not giving any of their territory to the Levites except for some cities, this did NOT indicate a land distribution as of yet. The tribes fully understood that at the same time they would be settling portions of their tribal land inheritance the good stuff , they had the responsibility to drive out or kill the Canaanites who held onto certain areas within their land the not so good stuff.
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By now Israel were nomads; this generation the 2nd generation of the Exodus had never lived in anything but tents. They had never lived in a city, nor planted crops and tended vineyards. They were herders that used up the pastureland and moved on. They knew and were comfortable with the way of the Bedouin. Taking the land meant settling down and restricting themselves to a relatively small area.
It meant respecting boundaries and borders. It meant defending their land, battling with neighbors. Nomads moved their flocks and herds away from trouble, not into it.
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The LAST thing that interested them was war and territorial battles. It was during this lull in the land distribution that Israel moved their encampment from Gilgal where they had been living since the day they crossed-over the Jordan to Shiloh. Shiloh would become the new Israelite headquarters and it would by default be where the Tabernacle is erected and all sanctuary services performed. Shiloh would be the new center of worship and government for Israel for many decades.
If you go to Shiloh today, you can find the actual area where the Wilderness Tabernacle stood I and several of you in this room have been there.