Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Baby Boomer Advises Generation "Whatever"

"Baby Busters", "Generation X", "Generation Millennium" - I haven't heard what the present generation designation is.  I don't know, I guess I got lost along the way of designating generations, or perhaps we ran out of monikers.  My ignorance may be explained by the fact that I quit reading those Church Growth publications that have articles entitled, "How to Make your Puny Little Church into Megachurch within Six Months - Guaranteed!"  It seemed to me to be fallacious to "guarantee" growth (defined by numbers only) without referencing our use of Scripture and our dependence upon God.  But alas, I digress...back to my point.

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!


  1. John, brother, I hear ya. But I think what many of the young Evangelicals, who by they way don't even know what that word means or where it came from, might not get your point. Many might read your concerns and say, "Hey, if you want us to embrace you so much, then why don't you embrace us the same way?" I think there is a massive mis-communication between our generations. I find myself stuck in the middle, hearing the groanings of my peers and feeling their frustrations and yet my heroes are old men, or dead men.

    I hear the frustration in your voice as you see young men and women abandoning sound reason and simply excepting the newest hip theologian who likes jazz and talks about how cool it is to drink beer and apologize for the crusades.

    But we must be careful, even in our age about what we deem as the core principles not to rebel against. You don't have to go back that many generations to see the greatest theologians of the day smoking cigars and getting the best whiskeys they could find. But I'm just talking about the Southern Baptists of course.

    But you know, the thing that gets me is not the Christians that have stayed the same. The thing that gets me are the Christians who show more hate than most of the people I know. They rail against and bash the secularists and non-Christians. They show nothing but hate for political persons whose values they don't agree with. Instead of empathy and trust in a sovereign God, they have nothing but bitter and mean words to say. No empathy, not remembrance of who they once were. They forget that Paul said we were all once such as these, even the worst abortionist.

    So as careful as the young generation needs to be not to run to the nearest pleasure seeking theologies, so too, the older generation needs to be careful to display Christ even to their enemies...especially to their enemies.

    Now, I'm going to finish my scotch, thank my God, pray for my enemies and go to bed. Grace and peace my brother.

  2. Thank you, dear friend, for listening to my heart. I think my blog is my spilling over of some personal frustrations that I don't get out in sermons or class. This is not to say that I don't feel what I am saying, I do, but I am sometimes edgy when I write about stuff. In addition, I have warned myself time and time again to write with grace and patience and love. I do think I/we blew it in my generation in many ways, I admit that. Every generation blows it, and that is my point. Be careful, dear brother, to understand that what you think today will change in time. Be careful that you ameliorate your convictions so that in the passing of time, hopefully there will be few regrets. I think personally that your generation is way to casual about alcohol, and I believe time will show that it will be the bane of your age group. I am emotional about the topic for personal reasons concerning which I will not go into now. I will try to write more positively in the future on my blog, and I do thank you for reading it. Whether anyone reads it or not, I feel better writing it; kind of therapeutic, you know. Give your honey a hug for me, and both of you remember that I love you.

  3. Brother, I don't mind you writing the way your write. I like it. I like the conversation. Sometimes, only when we assert our opinions strongly do we get a real reaction from others. I mean, if we tow the line too much I think people will be more inclined to dismiss us. I agree that many take alcohol too lightly. I also have deep convictions about based on personal experience. However, I do think, that in moderation alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly. Anyway, I look forward to your future posts and I look forward to out agreements and disagreements. :)

  4. Thanks, Rick. The worst thing is to be ignored.