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Certain characteristics are so inherent to Christianity that to neglect them is to become a walking oxymoron. A Christian without commitment is such an oxymoron. That's why I was so disturbed when a friend shared a statement from presidential candidates at a Christian college. When asked, "What has changed the most in the past 20 years with young people who are entering college?" all the candidates said that young adults today are far less willing to commit to anything.

Whether we are talking about career, marriage, or faith, studies back up their observation. In 2008, more than half of people ages 20 to 24 had been with their current employer for less than a year. Although the recession has dampened this somewhat, young adults are still floundering when it comes to embracing a calling. Marriage, especially, has suffered; according to U.S. Census data, young adults are marrying later than ever. A 2006 PBS documentary, Generation Next, gave some insight into why: desire for adventure, career advancement, and prolonged adolescence. Lack of commitment is also hitting religion—hard. Studies suggest that the iPod generation is choosing which aspects of the faith to adopt to create their own unique spiritual playlists.

Among today's young adults, the unwillingness to commit is alarming, clearly one result of the philosophies of the 1960s and '70s coming to full flower. In 1979, sociologist Robert Bellah conducted extensive interviews to understand what "habits of the heart" defined average Americans. Many had no sense of community or social obligation. They saw the world as a fragmented place of choice and freedom that yielded little meaning or comfort. They even seemed to have lost the language to express commitment to anything ...

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Contra Mundum
Chuck Colson & Timothy George

Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.

Timothy George is the dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and a member of Christianity Today's Editorial Council. His books include Reading Scripture with the Reformers and Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Like Colson, George has been heavily involved in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together discussions. George began cowriting "Contra Mundum" with Colson in 2011.

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August 2010

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