Review and Preview of “Younger Evangelicals & the Culture Wars”

31 May
May 31, 2012

via flikr (Benjamin Edwards)

 

I’ve not been posting much of late because, in the middle of a series of posts on Millennials, Gen-Xers and controversial social issues, I commenced the process of moving the blog to a new site.  I think it is going to be a good move, and we are excited about what awaits.

But while the kinks are getting worked out, I want to clarify some of the main points of the previous posts and let you know what is forthcoming…

 

Review: The ecclesiology of the “culture wars”

In the first two posts, we are thinking about the effect of controversial social issues on the internal dynamics of the church.  North Carolina’s vote on Amendment One exposed the inter-generational rifts that persist in the messy, untidy conglomeration of Christians we call “church” (the North American segment of the church, at least).  Here is the main observation from the first post:

When it comes to high-profile moral issues, many younger evangelicals seem more at odds with older evangelicals than with secular culture.

Now, a “blog post” is not a handy genre for addressing nuances.  It is a writing format more conducive to broad, oversimplified generalizations that raise eyebrows.  (I just added “many” to the quote above when I noticed I was painting with too wide a brushstroke).

This observation that younger Christians (evangelical or not) seem to gel better with their secular peers than older believers in their own church family does not mean necessarily that they are less aligned with Scripture or the church’s theological tradition.  It could just be that the older generations are more off and that younger members of contemporary Western society are somehow more in tune with Scriptural principles when it comes to public morality.

But here is probably what is happening: Both older and younger generations of Christians have taken our cues from our surrounding culture(s) more so than from a serious, careful, responsible discipline of interpreting (and in turn conforming to) our own sacred texts, creedal formulae, and redemptive metanarrative.  What I suppose I am suggesting is that our inter-generational conflicts have to do more with the different secular cultures we inhabit, which in turn serves as the hermeneutical lens by which we understand those texts, creeds, and the story of redemption.

But again, this is overgeneralizing.  So many voices (loud and quiet) from every generation are on the same page, a page shaped by diligent, prayerful interpretation of our Scriptures and theological tradition.

In the 2nd post, we looked at one of the awful sores (in my view) facing the church: the attempt to reach younger Christians at the expense of mocking or abandoning older Christians.  If our church is branded by sentiments like “Not Your Aunt Gertrude’s Church,” then what is our theology of community?  Are we too hip to worship with Aunt Gertrude?  (Maybe in heaven she will finally get that iPad and learn to love Mumford & Sons, then we can worship at her side and be in community with her…?).

Preview

Next, let’s consider the church’s public discourse on moral issues.  More importantly, how do we precede that public discourse with a less public discourse—we should probably learn how to talk about incendiary, flashpoint topics in-house before we make such bold statements from televised pulpits and radio interviews (and blogs!).

Also, how is the church embodying in its own practices the beloved platform of “family values”?  If heterosexual marriage is so precious to us, then how are we doing?  What does our divorce rate say about marriage to homosexuals who dream of a wedding day we say they cannot have, and how does our practice of marriage affect the way our public convictions are received in a society whose divorce rate is hardly any different?  And if sexual immorality is so critical, then how are we doing on that front?  Do younger Christians display the beautiful strength of self-control in their dating practices in a way that is markedly different from what we see among non-Christian dating partners?

Also on the roster, and this one may be the one I am most excited about, is a multi-part interview with Wesley Hill, author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.  We will be asking Wes about his own struggles and joys over sorting out his sexual identity within his more defining identity as a Christian.

Stay tuned for news about the blog.  The move is soon.

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1 reply
  1. Gustavo says:

    With regards to your “Preview” section…

    I’m not sure the credibility gap (how are we doing on family values or sexual morality) will ever drive the discussion on the topics of homosexuality and sexual immorality (though that is not to say coherence is not warranted).

    It’s quite easy to separate my our life choices from the hermeneutical prism through which we see the Scriptures. What we often seek (and think we find) is theological absoluteness on these matters, which drives our activist principles (and the zealousness with which we defend our moral borders).

    But I wonder if in the younger generation, this theological absoluteness is simply non-existent or not as important or if two divergent views can be simultaneously held in tension without going through crisis of faith (something which an older or more conservative generation found it difficult to do…)

    Either way, I salute what you are trying to accomplish with your blog, though there are far fewer voices singing your song within the evangelical world.

    Reply

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