The number of student uprisings shows the scope and intensity of young people’s discontent with established cultural patterns. One need not sympathize with the hippies’ taste for drugs or with the “confrontation” strategy pursued during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago to recognize that the youthful sub-culture may well be the harbinger of an international revolution, for society and for the Church.
Dr. G. W. Bromiley of Fuller Theological Seminary suggests that perhaps the much talked about gap between generations is “an even more stubborn and persistent problem for the Church than that between classes or races.” The sight of students storming a cathedral may not be altogether remote. On the brighter side, Billy Graham holds out the hope that a student movement will be used of God to usher in a sweeping spiritual renewal. “I’ve given up on the older generation,” Graham says.
The problem, however, is not one of repudiating the convictions of those with a heritage of experience. Each generation has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the challenge for today’s Church is to exploit the best that God has entrusted to the coming generation. So far, evangelicals and the Church as a whole have not tried hard enough to confront alienated youth, to understand them, to meet them on their own ground. Much more attention has been given to their misdeeds, and elders sometimes tend to over-react. Church people are tempted to dismiss the whole youth movement as a product of youthful passion.
To grant worthy motives to at least a measure of the new concerns raised by young people today is neither to condone immorality nor to accommodate error. The world owes them more than a chance to tell it like it is—like they think it is—and ...1
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