After reading Andres Tapia's "Reaching the First Post-Christian Generation [Sept. 12], I was left with a sense of great hope and expectation. This was one of the most relevant and practical articles that I have read in CT in a long while. As one saved through the ministry of Billy Graham and raised on the campus evangelism of IV and CCC, I appreciate the insight and advice of the young Xer-ministers intertwined in your article. For too long, we as the evangelical church have spent too much energy on style over substance and too much time concentrating on our message rather than on relationships. As a 45-year-old pastor, I look forward to the positive changes that this "X-generation" will bring to my own life and ministry as well as to the church of Jesus Christ.
- Pastor Dale R. Yancy
Hope Chapel Foursquare Church
I was excited when I saw the cover on your September 12 issue. After reading the volumes of analysis of my generation poured out by the "mainstream" media, I was ready for one with some hope.
Unfortunately, while Andres Tapia's article did an excellent job of highlighting a new and desperate mission field, it left me wondering where I and my friends fit in. Please know that not all Xers (a term I hate only slightly less than busters) are disillusioned, disenfranchised, and depressed. There are those of us out there who actually are hopeful about the world, who like life in today's high-tech, knowledge-heavy society, and who don't worship grunge rock groups. The reason we are so hopeful is that we have been called by a living Christ and a sovereign God to work to bring the kingdom to come. And we are not alone in this effort, thanks to a Holy Comforter.
Furthermore, in spite of the fact that the "busters" may not believe in absolute truth, the gospel is just that and cannot be diluted. I think that is one of the most appealing things to my generation about the message of Christ: it proclaims a high standard in a world where standards are defined as either relative or "bad" and calls us to live above the level of mediocrity. We cannot be faithful servants of that message when we bend so far to accommodate that we can no longer stand for anything.
- Carrie A. Brown
As a 21-year-old Christian in college, I am a verified member of the so-called Generation X. The most emphatic statement I can reiterate from the article is that the church must change its approach to us. We need more atypical role models rather than the traditional "All American" representatives of the Bible.
The church must understand that music is our life. It helps us escape from the pain of divorce, abuse, and so on. Many of my prayers and work for Jesus come from listening to popular "grunge" bands-as the media have labeled them. It all goes back to the approach.
There is hope. We need uplifting messages, not lectures from preachers. We need contemporary music, not ancient music. We need acceptance in the church and to feel that anyone-no matter the hair length, clothes style, or music preference-can be or is already a Christian.
- Jennifer Whiddon
Too heavy an emphasis on doctrine is hardly evangelicalism's problem; in fact, one might argue that an emphasis on vague, low-content experience is what gives rise to concerns about packaging and terminology. It's not just the words and worship style that need to change (and they do need to); it's our personal encounter with a timeless God that needs changing as well.
The church needs to repent of the comfort-seeking shallowness that lies behind both twentysomething cynicism and the irrelevancy of evangelical Christianity (despite its "contemporary" forms) in the postmodern world. One reason the church is irrelevant to Generation X is that we've taken on the values and practices of the world that has disinherited them. If the church were to repent of its selfishness and superficiality, we might be more in touch with what's troubling Xers, and perhaps have more credibility when we ask them to repent and believe.
- Jonathan D. Inman
Chapel Hill, N.C.
The author's concluding quote from George Barna in section one is, "We either change or we lose them." Where is Barna going to draw the line? First he told us to change for the boomers, who are now "searching for their spiritual identity." Now he tells us to change for the busters, who are not coming to church at all. The gospel is for all generations, and if we change it to meet each new generation that we label, it is not gospel at all.
- D. J. Weiss
Ross Christian Church
Besides having twentysomething children, I teach college classes at a secular university. I listen to my students and hear their needs. The institutional church is irrelevant to them, and yet I hear a cry for truth and a tenderness in their souls for love and for a meaningful reality that they can dedicate their lives to. They are not empty vessels-they have heavy baggage, and they come into their adulthood broken and scarred. They need the healing rest of Jesus, but they're not finding it in church. Tapia's last statement rings as true today as it did for those of us who accepted the Lord in the Jesus People days of the sixties: we came to love the Jesus who accepted us then, as unconventional and untraditional as we were. Our children now need to know the same Jesus loves them as well-broken pieces, baggage and all.
- Kris Espinoza
A LIVING CHRISTIANITY
Your article on the Holy Spirit by Daniel B. Wallace was such an encouragement to me ["Who's Afraid of the Holy Spirit?" Sept. 12]. Having graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary over 25 years ago, I have always appreciated my firm biblical roots. Yet the weakness of that or any other academic institution based strongly on the Bible is that the net result of its teaching too often boils down to a kind of Christian deism, where God throws us the Bible and says: "This is all you need until I come back." It is obvious that the Bible, precious as it is, is not all we need. The Pharisees knew it forward and backward, yet would not come to Christ to find life (John 5:39-40).
Today, as never before, there is a yearning in the hearts of people to know Christ personally, experientially. Christianity is more than a belief system or a behavioral system. It is a dynamic relationship with a person, God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). To miss out on this relationship is to miss out on the whole thing.
I congratulate Daniel on beginning this journey. It is a journey that consumes me. And I pray that the great seminaries of our day will not only maintain high standards in the academics, but also greatly encourage the interior growth of their students and model it, so that the living Christianity of the New Testament may once again be alive in our hearts.
- Paul Young, Director
Community Bible Study International
Wallace misrepresents cessationists when he suggests they are "afraid of the Holy Spirit" and states that they teach "by their actions that prayer won't do any good." The cessationists I know love and worship the Holy Spirit as God and pray with a firm belief in divine providence.
We cessationists are not pneumaphobes. What we fear is not the Holy Spirit, but disruptive charismatic intrusions into our non-Pentecostal fellowships. We fear this because we consider charismatic beliefs and practices to be based on self-deceptive and erroneous pneumatology.
- Lewis Kash
As a seminarian, I have been greatly influenced and blessed by Dan Wallace's academic writings, but none of his articles has been more important than this particular piece. I especially appreciated Wallace's indictment of the seminary's tendency to so elevate the cognitive side of Christian truth that the more experiential and creative side of the Holy Spirit's work is sometimes neglected or ignored. Wallace's call for balance is a very welcome sound in the din of so much pneumatological confusion-and existential exclusion.
- Lewis E. Winkler
San Bernardino, Calif.
I am moved by Wallace's humble account of rediscovering the Holy Spirit. He offers us a powerful testimony, and then, in the midst of his distress, he points beyond the dilemma-charismatic versus cessationist-toward where an answer might be found.
What difference does it make that the Father and the Son come to make their dwelling within our hearts? What difference does it make that the Comforter offers us comfort in all our affliction, so that we are able to comfort those in any affliction with the same comfort with which we have been comforted? What difference does it make that the Spirit of holiness intends our transformation into holy people?
As Wallace's closing theses show, neither the simple acceptance of the present charismatic movement nor a simple denial of the charismata will do. Somehow a way must be found by us all to incorporate not only the charismatics' bright fervor in God's presence, but an equal allegiance to the Spirit's ministries of holiness and compassion.
- James Ayers, Pastor
South Frankfort Presbyterian Church
The overriding message I heard in Daniel B. Wallace's article is that charismatics and noncharismatics need each other. I hope CT will continue to emphasize this theme.
For so long the seminary-trained cessationists have told charismatics that we are second-class citizens in the kingdom, either because we don't exegete Scripture properly or because we put too much stock in subjective experiences. Meanwhile, many charismatics have smugly written off the noncharismatic evangelical community.
If we all adopted Daniel Wallace's humble approach to this issue, we might start respecting each other. And if we joined forces-without trying to convert each other-we just might see spiritual revival in our country.
- Lee Grady, Editorial Director
Lake Mary, Fla.
A WELCOME CHANGE!
I found the article by Darrell Bock on "Charting Dispensationalism" [Sept. 12] fascinating. I first encountered the progressive dispensational position several years ago during a guest lecture by Dr. Craig Blaising at William Tyndale College. It occurred to me then, as it did when I read Bock's article, that the current revision of historical dispensational distinctives to some degree might be shaped by the practical necessity of retaining the shibboleth "dispensational" while, in fact, distancing oneself from its more controversial conclusions. In the Q/A time, I asked Dr. Blaising this very thing, and he acquiesced. In many dispensational churches, to confess anything other than dispensationalism is the kiss of death. With progressive dispensationalism, one can have his cake and eat it too! If this observation is true, however, it may say as much about the rigidity of dispensational sociology as it does about progressive theology. In any case, it is a welcome change from the old line!
- Pastor Dan Lewis
Troy Christian Chapel
Dispensationalism as a system of theology was developed for one reason-to offer scriptural proof where there is none for a pretribulation Rapture; Second Thessalonians 2:3 says that those who believe in a pretribulation Rapture are deceived.
It is good, however, that the dialogue goes on. Maybe the fourth form of the movement will be Reformed theology.
- Pastor Carol E. DeBaise
Memorial Baptist Church
After reading Bock's article, I wondered whether my local Christian bookstore would soon be selling charts in the traditional, revised, and progressive versions. Since God's certain revealed plan for the ages is now up for academic review, what are we to make of these new systems? Is dispensationalism experiencing a refinement to bring it into focus, or a disintegration that will result in its assimilation into the mainstream? When faced with the hopeless inconsistency of old dispensationalism, instead of trying to preserve it, and all the institutions dedicated to it, why don't we just let the dead bury their dead? Instead of trying to nail down God's plan for the ages, let's put the nail where it belongs: in the coffin. Let's quit trying to map out how it's going to happen and return all those dispensationalists to their historic premillennial roots. I threw my charts away years ago.
- Pastor Glenn A. Griffis
Pinehurst Community Chapel
My 90-year-old father, Dean A. Smail, very much enjoyed Bock's "Charting Dispensationalism." He would like to point out, however, that someone should perhaps have identified the author of the chart reproduced at the beginning of the article.
Entitled "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth," this chart is to be found in Clarence Larkin's well-known "Dispensational Truth or God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages," third edition, 1920. I myself remember as a grade-school child being fascinated by the numerous intricate diagrams in this book.
- Prof. J. Kenneth Smail
I appreciated the article about Peter Lowe ["Closing the Ultimate Sale," Church in Action, Sept. 12]. I think Lowe is sincere, and I have no doubt that he means well and has the best of intentions. However, the article that described his seminar on success left out one noteworthy word that defines Christianity more than anything else: It is the word cross. At no point was there any mention of a cross, of the cost of being a Christian.
I understand that Lowe is trying to reach people who are among the hardest to get to listen to the Christian message. Still, it is sad that nothing was mentioned about the cross and about the suffering Jesus said his followers would experience. Perhaps the reason so many people's faith is shallow and superficial is because they have never had to suffer for what they believed.
- Pastor Philip A. Williams
Jones Memorial Presbyterian Church
Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time conceiving of God as a "customer." Does a consumer mentality really apply to God? Sure, Lowe wants to please God, but portraying God as a satisfied customer is a little too earthy for me.
- Larry Hurst, Dean of Students
Nipawin Bible Institute
Nipawin, Sask., Canada
I appreciate Peter Lowe's emphasis upon excellence and motivation, yet his seminars do so because [attenders] want to be, in the words of John Connally of Texas, "big rich." The idea that material wealth and spiritual prosperity are compatible comes from confusing Christianity with American capitalism. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus unapologetically declared, "No one can serve two masters. … You cannot serve both God and Money."
I have a suggestion concerning how Lowe can solve that troublesome parking problem at his seminars: Tell the people that if they really want satisfaction in their lives, they must turn from their materialism and follow Jesus Christ, as Jesus instructed the rich, young ruler. That should thin out the crowd.
- Pastor Ralph Nite, Jr.
Centropolis Baptist Church
Kansas City, Mo.
HOMOSEXUALS' PAY RATES
A news article on homosexuality [North American Scene, Sept. 12] reported that "recent census data" show the average homosexual makes more than $50,000 annually. In fact, the data came not from any census but from a "Wall Street Journal" questionnaire that included information on sexual orientation. The results, not surprisingly, indicated that homosexual readers of the Journal have rather high salaries. But so do all other identifiable groups that subscribe to the "Wall Street Journal." Few poor people subscribe.
Accurate information on homosexuals' salaries is available, however. A recent study by the University of Maryland (USA Today, Aug. 24, 1994) found that gay and bisexual men average $22,876, while their heterosexual counterparts averaged $28,381. The results were similar for women, with heterosexual women earning $18,277 to the $15,187 average for lesbian and bisexual women. This national random poll indicates that not only do lesbian women and gay men make less than half that stated in the CT article, they also earn almost 20 percent less than heterosexuals. The pay gap remained even after accounting for differences in education and job experience.
Whether or not homosexuals make more or less than heterosexuals is not relevant.
- Stephen W. Wells
BEFUDDLED BY LIFE'S ORIGIN
I was flattered to read about my talk "Intelligent Design and the Origin of Life" in your write-up of the Cambridge "Cosmos and Creator" conference ["Science Gets Religion," Sept. 12]. The debate about the detectability of intelligent design in living organisms was, indeed, one of the most interesting and provocative parts of the event. Unfortunately, the quotation attributed to me obscures both my views and the nature of the debate.
Writer Jo Kadlecek correctly reports my criticism of biologists who resist the possibility that intelligent design played a role in the origin of life. She gives the impression, however, that I criticize them for demanding specific "evidence for design," then has me justifying intelligent design on the grounds that "there are many theories in science that include unobservable evidence from which we derive indirect inferences."
Had I attempted to justify intelligent design by reference to "unobservable evidence," then I suppose Dr. Peacocke, whom she quotes, would have been justified in calling my views "hogwash." Instead, much of the talk I gave with polymer scientist Walter Bradley concerned the evidence that supports the design hypothesis-in particular, the encoded information in DNA and the functional complexity of the cell.
It is true I criticized some biologists for "resisting" the design hypothesis, but I did so on the grounds that they ignore, rather than demand, specific evidences. As I explained at the conference, 40 years of research have left chemical evolutionary theorists progressively more, not less, befuddled by the origin of life. The design hypothesis is resisted, not because there is a good, naturalistic explanation for life's origin, but because certain arbitrary "rules" prohibit consideration of theories that refer to creative intelligence. In short, resistance to intelligent design derives from philosophical convention, not observed evidence.
I can understand how confusion about my statements might have arisen. I did say that scientists often infer unobservable entities such as quarks, forces, magnetic fields, and ancient mutations. But I also stated that such inferences in science are based on observable evidence. Scientists often infer the unobservable from the observable.
- Prof. Stephen C. Meyer
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