Today the church suffers more from the sheer indifference of young people than any other institution in our society. By and large, the young have dismissed the Church as archaic, ineffective, and irrelevant. So concludes John D. Rockefeller 3rd, writing in Saturday Review. The indictment stings. If it is true, we must find ourselves echoing the anguished retrospective query voiced by many parents, “What did we do wrong?” Or, a question more constructive and forward-looking, “What can we do now?”
Since adolescent revolt has been more prominent on campuses than anywhere else, our first inclination is to blame the universities, where naturalistic philosophies and scientism are rampant. Student denunciation of the multiversity has been vociferous for other reasons. They have reproached administrators for inaccessible professors, “rabbit-warren” residence halls, the “vocational” orientation of today’s higher learning, and the IBM impersonality of the institution. When due allowance has been made for these and other shortcomings of the university, the fact remains that home and church have had first chance at today’s student generation and must shoulder a proportionate share of the responsibility.
What is responsible for this generation’s revolt, with its distinguishing marks of sexual freedom, drug experimentation, activism, and desire for “instant everything”?
Behind today’s student unrest is a long period of “child-centered” education, characterized by broad permissiveness and subordination of adult direction. The spirit of that era was vividly lampooned twenty years ago by Robert Hutchins, who remarked, “The academic administrators of America remind one of the French Revolutionist who said, ‘The mob is in the street. I must find ...1
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