Interesting. Article. I would like to see hard numbers on this, but it is something I have been expecting for years. The idea that the church started 10 years ago and that 2000 years of wisdom didn’t exist has felt incredibly short sighted to me for the last decade.
2 thoughts on “Young Evangelicals Are Getting High”
I was with the author until the second to the last paragraph….then the real thought process roared forth in all of its evangelical arrogance. Typical “if we train them to think biblically, they will stay…” fecal matter. Young people are leaving the evangelical segment of Christianity because it is short-sighted, self-focused, and most importantly: culturally irrelevant.
It is short-sighted because it has the definite air of those that think they have arrived theologically. Yet, when compared to the roughly 4,000 years of God dealing with humankind (that we have record of, anyway), evangelicalism is really still just a new kid on the block looking for respect.
It is self-focused because of its emphasis on the “Jesus and me” relationship. There is no Father (God is a good buddy) or else God is the ultimate (mean) authority (because I have status and need an unassailable reason for existence to maintain it.
It is becoming more culturally irrelevant because of its focus on maintaining truth at any cost. (Because God can’t defend himself and I need a reason to maintain my status.) In a world were any 5 year old can have access to more knowledge than the esteemed doctor of a few centuries ago, the appeal to authority based on position or text is becoming more and more ludicrous.
Is the ancient, high church represented by Catholicism and the High Lutheran/Anglican way of thinking perfect? No. However, the ancient, high church also has had time to develop a substantial body of resources and wisdom about life. There is substance, not just the latest trend. There is the definite sense of timelessness wisdom, and security, In other words, there is a framework to build a life and faith on. It is a stable foundation from which to engage the world and also to rest from the world.
Thanks for weighing in. The post was from a Reformed blogger, so a doctrine-centric view of the faith is to be expected. I found the post interesting in that it is the first time I have heard someone evangelical confirming our suspicions-although without any hard data.
As an Anglican/Episcopalian I actually don’t think that high church worship and evangelical theology are necessarily contradictory…although, if you read my blog at all you know that i am highly critical of evangelical ecclesiology. We have historically had lots of Reformed thinking/liturgically worshipping folk-although many have left in our recent schism. The Reformation in England tended to be doctrinally softer and tried to avoid the harshest edges of doctrinaire Romanism on one side and doctrinaire Puritanism on the other. I appreciate Calvinism’s taking seriously the holiness of God. I agree with you that it does certainly appear that many neo-Calvinists feel a need to protect God at every turn, which is interesting for a group that professes confidence in God’s sovereignty. 🙂 But then, we all have our inconsistencies. I also appreciate the evangelical impulse for others to know and experience God-I find it to be something inherently present in sacramental worship. Our version just has a much higher view of ecclesiology and lacks the fear of all things Catholic.
You point out the current numerical struggles of evangelicalism. It is interesting that the groups that seem to me to be gathering steam are the neo-Calvinists (a doctrinal answer for everything) and ancient-liturgical/sacramental (a spiritual practice for everything). I have seen the edges of both spectrums and find them equally vacuous. Most Neo-cals, for all their protests, don’t really disregard all experience and mist sacramentalists don’t really want to throw out all firm answers.
Neither edges’ view of scripture seems helpful either. Not many evangelicals actually think that the Bible is a flat document to open for an answer for what washing machine to buy like the Magic 8-Ball of our youth, and not many sacramentalists really think that everything besides “love God and love your neighbor” should be tossed from the Bible either.
I really like your comment about “there is substance, not just the latest trend…wisdom, security…a framework from which to build.” Those are all reasons I became “high”. So is the opportunity for depth of discipleship through the formation in daily immersion in scripture through the office, weekly formation in the liturgy and the annual rhythm of the Christian year. My point of disagreement with the author is that I find discipleship in the things listed as unnecessary. The Calvinists “regulative principle” – which most only apply in an anti-roman way, cuts one off from the wisdom of 2000 years of Christian history and however many years of our Jewish roots one’s assumptions about the dating of the Old Testament give you.