Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Confused Leading The Ignorant

I'm on a list-serv of Christian newspaper editors run by the Evangelical Press Association, and the posts there are by turns interesting and frustrating -- and sometimes both at the same time.

One editor there, for example, is a Barack Obama supporter. She acknowledges that abortion is an important issue; she claims to be pro-life. And she acknowledges that Obama, while in the Senate and on the campaign trail, has an unabashedly pro-choice view. Nonetheless, she claims that Obama is "inspiring." It's the first time I've ever heard the promotion of baby-killing called inspirational. Her views, though, seem to be a sign of the disarray of evangelicalism.

For example, this week I interviewed megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter, whose new book is "A New Kind Of Conservative." He said that young people were rejecting "traditional" Christian worship and such "trappings" of an older generation as denominationalism and party labels.

I asked, "Dr. Hunter, I'm assuming that you're smarter now, at age 60, than you were at age 25."

He responded, "I hope so."

Me: "I'm also assuming that you've read the surveys from Barna, from Gallup, from the Pew Trust, and just about everyone else that says the younger generation is perhaps the most secular, least religious, most pagan, most theologically and biblically illiterate generation in American history."

Dr. Hunter: "OK, I see where you're going."

Me: "Well, I guess where I'm going is here: I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the passion and desire to 'make a difference' of young people. But shouldn't they be looking to us for wisdom, rather than the other way around?"

Dr. Hunter: "I'm not saying that. We need each other. They should be looking to us."

Here's my point: There is a great deal of theological confusion out there. I think one of the reasons that 25-year-olds don't want to pay attention to the wisdom of 60-year-olds is that we have too many 60-year-olds trying to be "hip" in ways they weren't when they were 25. And among evangelical leaders, you have the added temptation of money: the desire to sell books and get speaking gigs and be seen as the "Next Billy Graham" or (heaven forbid) the "Next Rick Warren." I mean, after all, who wouldn't want to "hang" with Bono?

Our young people bring a lot to the community, to the koinonia. But, in general, wisdom is not a part of what they bring. They need older -- and wiser -- people for that. And our older men need to be patriachs, not pals; our older women need to be matriarchs, not "cougars" and "BFFs."


Post a Comment

<< Home