I would like to speak today to the "Whatever the Latest Evangelical Generation is Called" Christians, and say, "Be careful what you rebel against and to." Speaking as the official designated spokesman of the Baby Boomer evangelicals (who promised to get it right since the previous generation had messed everything up - - psst...did you know that every generation when they are in their 20's thinks the previous generation messed everything up and the "up and coming" bunch will straighten everything out; you know, sort of like "A Change we Can Believe in." Hmmm, we'll see...). The older I have gotten the more certain I am that the previous generation was not as dumb as I thought, and I was not as smart as I thought at age of 25. In fact, the older I get, the less likely I am to trust my opinions. My cultural and ministerial arguments from 30 years ago seem to have lost their fizz. Is it possible...oh no, I can't believe I'm saying this...that we did not know what we were talking about 30 years ago? As is always the case, the answer to this is - there was some good, and there was some bad. Keep everything in perspective and be humble.
The one thing that continues to gnaw at me is this important fundamental idea - young people and young adults seem have to a built in propensity for rebellion against the bunch that precedes them, but the young folks must be careful what they rebel against and what they rebel to. In the case of young evangelicals today, the enemy is not the previous generation, traditionalists, or Baby Boomers. I have heard some young evangelicals speak with such tenderness about lost people, then turn definitely angry talking about the "traditionalist, no-change, stick-in-the-mud" Christians at the local church. Every time I hear something like this I think of Jesus' command for Christians to love each other and the Apostle John's teaching in his First Epistle that true Christians love other Christians. Faithfulness and biblical ministry are not determined by reacting against other Christians. Mainstream Evangelicals for years have tragically determined their beliefs on certain things by reacting against other groups (i.e. "Roman Catholics" and "Pentecostals") rather than simply studying and believing the Bible.
I admit that the previous two generations (an opinion I hold myself, and perhaps no one else) our collective popular evangelical beliefs have been set by Strong's Concordance rather than books on Systematic Theology. If we can't find the word in Strong's, then we assume the Bible has nothing to say on the subject represented by that word. The upshot of that is that the previous evangelical community became rather somewhat unbiblical in some ways in both doctrine, Christian living, and ministry. So, here come the new evangelicals to save the day; they are going to show those old codgers how to get it right. So, they rebel, and what is the chosen battlefield of the new generation of evangelicals? "Cigar smoking, alcohol drinking, and global warming, and no more hymns in church" - HUH?! Is this the strategic and important sign of reformation of the modern evangelical church? Is this what the Reformers meant when they said the church must continue to reform? I say again to the new evangelicals - please, I beg of you, my dear, precious brothers in Christ, be careful what you rebel against and what you rebel to. You are setting a course for generations to come. Your generation will reap a harvest of whatever you sow. What harvest will come to such unwise decisions such as these? I will give a passage of Scripture and be done with this diatribe - Galatians 5 says that Christ set us free. Amen and Hallelujah!!! Yes, we must not be legalistic or bound in works theology. But Galatians 5 also says we are free to serve each other in love. Let's try to use our freedom in Christ for sacrificial love which takes others into account (see Philippians 2:1-8 for the greatest example of this). Let us seek to be wise, considerate, courteous, and caring with all, including those "stick in the mud" Baby Boomer Christians - yuck. Amen!