Rawlings School of Divinity


Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics (MA)


Robert Talley


Christian Youth, Worldview, Secular, Cognitive Dissonance, Incoherence, Grounded Theory


Christianity | Religion


The fragility characterizing the faith of young believers is nothing new to Christianity. Doubts as to whether or not Christianity is actually true continue to pose challenges to Christian youth as they grow into adulthood in an increasingly secularized culture. This study explores the concept of worldview development and integration within Christian youth, and addresses the growing problem of youth apostasy. Utilizing a methodology based on constructivist grounded theory, this study explores the relevant research on worldview integration and development through six worldview elements (Origin, Purpose, Value, Morality, Nature, Destination) to catalog the available data. The analysis of the research data and subsequent findings of the study conclude with the presentation of a new theory: many Christian youth embrace inconsistent views of the world, in addition to incoherent understandings of Christian doctrine. These problems combined in turn cause varying degrees of individual cognitive dissonance for those youth immersed within secular environments/cultures. This cognitive dissonance in turn causes social, emotional, and psychological stress, resulting in youth embracing the “Christian distance” empirically observed through an overwhelming apostasy, where approximately two-thirds of “born again” youth renounce their Christian faith between the time they begin undergraduate university studies and when they graduate. The study concludes with additional research recommendations regarding cognitive dissonance and Christian youth.

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