A friend of mine, Claire*, recently sent me a disheartening message on Facebook: "It scares me thinking I have to essentially brainwash myself to believe something." She went on to say her faith is wavering greatly right now, and this woman with a master's degree in Christian education is teetering on the edge of atheism. "I can't let go completely because I'm still scared of hell," she confessed, "but is fear enough to make up for not being able to convince myself to love God anymore?"
I wish I could tell you I singlehandedly won her back to full faith in Jesus Christ that day. I didn't.
Claire's story is far too common these days. Persons of devout faith explore other things -- other religions and atheistic science, usually -- and feel they've been brainwashed. Typically the arguments say that if they were raised in another religion, they'd believe it just as much as they do Christianity, so all faiths are equally (in)valid; that science doesn't need a God to create a universe, and we only do because we've been taught to believe so; and other similar things. Millions of 18-40-year-olds have walked away from the church feeling duped. Most will never come back.
We can't answer every question of everyone like Claire, but we need better answers than what we have. We need to engage science, not run away from it. We need to understand how Christianity is different from other religions. We need to share our testimonies, be open about our own encounters with a holy and living God. We can't keep our heads in the sand anymore. We can't pretend the Church is fine. Most of all, we can't let people believe there is nothing more to the love of God and the cross of Christ than brainwashing.
We aren't brainwashed. We know the Truth, and he has set us free.
* Claire's name has been changed at her request. Story used with permission.