Faith, facts, and Katy Perry

Katy Perry’s parents were on American Idol this week, talking to Ryan Seacrest about their famous daughter. So I thought this would be a good time to dust off this post I wrote four years ago about the importance of good Christian apologetics. Really…that’s what this is about.

I like Katy Perry. Though my first impression was negative when I first heard of her through her hit song “I Kissed a Girl,” I have since come to see her as a genuine, caring individual, though admittedly having had only limited exposure to her appearances and music. I’ve never listened to any of her songs in total, but you can hardly miss them if you watch any TV at all. What I have heard seems to reflect a desire to encourage and inspire others, and I like that. I also like that she writes about coming through a difficult time By the Grace of God, one of the songs on her latest album Prism.

It grieves me though, to read that for her, God is merely a “higher power” and not the God revealed in the Christian faith she grew up in. I am confident that the true God is working in her to reveal himself and his love, and right now I pray that someday she responds to him in true faith and submission. But her rejection of Christianity as a daughter of Christian ministers is an interesting fact that I’d like to explore.

Though I had known that Katy Perry’s mother and father were in Christian ministry, how this may have impacted her choice to disassociate herself from the faith was brought to my attention by another blogger I follow. This fellow, who goes by the name Wintery Knight, is a prodigious supplier of helpful news and commentary of cultural and societal import, and I highly recommend him to you. He suggests that her parents’ focus on the charismatic, emotional elements of faith to the neglect of a good, solid foundation of apologetics is responsible for Perry’s apostasy. Without a more intimate knowledge of her upbringing I can’t agree or disagree with his assessment of the young lady’s journey of faith. But I do strongly believe that clear teaching in the historical facts behind Christianity and the logical and reasonable arguments for it is crucial to the development of a sure, stable, and lasting faith.

Faith needs facts and feelings
We are all reasoning beings. We are all emotional beings. And just as a faith that is all facts and figures and no personal relationship or emotional involvement would be dry and likely discarded, so too a faith that is not founded and secured by knowable, reasoned truth is likely to fail and be rejected. When, in a time of questioning and searching, we have no good answers to why we should believe, because we’ve never been taught the facts, there is a high probability that we will find our inherited faith lacking and go seeking elsewhere.

And there is so much out there competing for our attention and commitment. Especially from the self-appointed protectors of reason and good sense, headquartered in our institutions of higher learning. A fluffy faith founded on feelings is sure to falter when faced with fiery professions of the folly of faith, from flatulent faculties fluent in facts. 🙂

Facts ground faith, give freedom to feel
But amusing alliteration and funny faces aside, this is a serious problem in the church. We fail to fully equip our children to stand firm in what they believe if we do not teach them why ours is a reasonable faith. They need to be taught the historical evidences for Jesus and his resurrection, the scientific arguments for the existence of God, the bibliographic tests for historicity and reliability that the Bible passes, and the real answers to the tough questions that unbelievers and skeptics ask. Then, they will have good reason to believe what the Bible teaches about God’s love and plan for them, and can truly enjoy a vibrant, emotion-filled, intimate relationship with their Creator and Savior.

I recognize there are other factors that influence where we settle down in our spirituality. Perhaps Katy Perry would have chosen not to identify as a Christian even if she were thoroughly schooled in apologetics. Certainly, the dissonance felt when the love of God is taught but love is not shown is enough to make even comprehensive Christian training hard to accept, and cause the individual to go looking elsewhere for her real emotional needs. We must exemplify the life-changing realities of the faith we profess, in humility and love. Just as children need both love and discipline to grow into happy, well-adjusted adults, so too they need both the emotional connection of a genuine relationship with God and the discipline of learning why we can know that he is real and his word is true.

And that he loves us Unconditionally, as Miss Perry sings about in her latest song. Perhaps she was writing about human relationships, but I believe God is speaking to Katy about his love for her through her own lyrics. “So open up your heart,” Katy, and let your relationship with the living God begin.