Stop Worrying About the Millennials

The cover story in the January/February issue . . . raises timely observations about the faith formation of emerging adults. . . . Andy Root is right to indicate that much of this anxiety is less about the legitimate concerns and fears of millennials than it is the lack of nerve among some mainline and evangelical church leaders. Are we really worried for millennials, or worried about what their anxieties might mean for our future? Are we nervous that if they leave, our churches will become increasingly empty and irrelevant, or are we concerned with their spiritual development and life with God?

Truly caring for 18- [to] 25-year-olds demands that we . . . instead focus upon discipleship. Helping them to navigate this crucial period of life well is an honorable and deeply Christian form of ministry. If we do this well, they will inevitably see the place that the church can play in their ongoing growth and formation. . . .

If there is any real ground for anxiety vis-a-vis the millennials, it should be this: [H]ave we busied ourselves with the task of seeking to “capture” their attention and, in the process, actually failed to teach and proclaim the Word of God?

Mark Husbands
Theology for Common Life blog

A bit convicting and a lot insightful.
Laura Phillips @HippoluATX

Good read. I modified the title: Treat Millennials as People, Not a Demographic.
Joshua Shull @joshisthinking

Gleanings: Faith or Therapy First?

I am disappointed by the LifeWay Research survey that asked pastors, family members of people with acute mental illness, and those with such illnesses whether “psychological therapy” should be used before or after “sharing spiritual principles.” This implies a conflict between psychological therapy and faith.

For decades, graduate schools of psychology have taught the integration of faith and psychology. Churches have developed wonderful support programs that combine the two. As a psychologist and ordained clergyperson, I work with pastors and church staff so that people benefit from both sources of healing. Great strides have been made in psychology so that our ethical standards now require respect for a person’s belief system.

To balance the impression of this survey’s results, please consider an article that will further discuss how psychology and faith can be seen as partners that are not in conflict.

Bob Justice
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Where We Stand: Amnesty Is Not a Dirty Word

No doubt Mark Galli’s editorial regarding amnesty for illegal immigrants is motivated by a Christian perspective. However, critical elements are missing.

Amnesty is pardon granted to groups of persons who have broken laws regarding (human) government. Nowhere is amnesty suggested in the Bible as God’s method of dealing with our sins; they are dealt with individually. Moreover, amnesty makes no attempt to pay for the laws broken: God’s salvation was paid for in full by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. There is no place for repentance in amnesty.

People who avoid or break legitimate and righteous laws generally do not deserve, nor should they expect, pardon for illegal acts. Legitimate governments are established by God in order to enforce legitimate laws. To willfully break those laws rejects God and his ordained structure for peace in a fallen world. And it’s a slap in the face for those who seek lawfully to immigrate.

Robert W Pointer
The Villages, Florida

Your editorial is so refreshing, both in substance and tone. Sadly, conservative evangelicals tend to react in simplistic and often ugly ways to what is a tragic and messy situation. The hostility of much of the evangelical community to these people and to any change in their legal status grieves me. Your essay was like a breath of fresh air. Let’s pray for a genuinely Christlike response by the church.

Harold Netland
Professor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Deerfield, Illinois

The Quiet Fighter

This feature, like much of Western media, centers a powerful white person as the most important figure of an African story. The title and the accompanying image present a powerful woman, Shannon Sedgwick Davis, with access to some of the world’s powerful movers and shakers, yet who is identified as a “mom.” Her motherhood has nothing to do with her work in this story, and we would not say the same of a man in a similar situation.

Davis is presented as the major actor in blocking Joseph Kony’s work—which she argues against herself. This is tied to neocolonialism. Davis’s connection with Invisible Children (IC) and Kony 2012 is emblematic of problems of this article, particularly those of IC being white messiahs who erase voices of the local leadership. Ugandans are largely presented as ineffectual, as brutes, or as helpless victims. This furthers presentation of Africans as being either savages or weak children. Additionally, the article features a violent paramilitary that has taken valuable African land, a remnant of the colonial practices that have kept these countries substantially poor in the first place.

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Jason Dye

Buying Bestsellers

Of course it’s wrong to buy your way onto a bestseller list, but bestseller lists don’t mean anything anymore. If Snooki’s book and 50 Shades of Grey can be bestsellers, being a bestseller isn’t a compliment.

Steve Lawrence

Re-Word: Understanding Seeking Faith

If ever there was an article needed, it was this one by Alister McGrath.

So many times we have a sound theological head and an empty heart. We go through the motions but have no real sense of the Master before us. McGrath points to the need.

I have found that once we experience the enormity of death and Jesus’ victory over it, and realize that he ascended bodily into heaven and is there now, we may come to him as his disciples did. Time and space make no difference. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Wallace A. Bell
Oceanside, California

Reviews: MoMA’s Fragile Prayers

Daniel Siedell asks the reader to look at modern art as an expression of the human experience asking the observer, even God himself, to look closer and “Be with me.” There is a perspective in grace here that is instructive to the nature of Christ lived out through his followers.

Unfortunately, his article takes a turn in the last line: “With them, I wanted to make sure that if Christ were speaking to us in these galleries—asking us to come closer, to look again, to be with him—we would have ears to hear.” Elevating modern art and its (at times profane) expression of the human experience to the level of Christ asking us to draw closer is just too far of a stretch. To look up on the art of others with grace is Christ; to make it an object of worship is heresy.

Amanda Schroeder
Hammonton, New Jersey

My Higher Criticism Crisis

A powerful read. I celebrate Gregory Alan Thornbury’s willingness to go where the evidence leads, as all too many do not seem to be willing to do that.
Bill Greenwood

This is a perfect example of why Christians should also be academics.
Jared Doyle @jradio90

Net Gain

Responses to our blogs and online articles.

What Joshua Harris is doing will actually benefit not only himself but also the church. Entering college means being able to see and become exposed to different people of different backgrounds, and real experiences that will make him more effective in being relatable.
Daphne Celine Ramos, Facebook.
Gleanings: “Why Joshua Harris Kissed His Megachurch Goodbye,” by Morgan Lee.

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The majority of women posting here agree that women should dress modestly. I suspect that the strident tone of some of the comments may be because, in the past, churches have put the burden of responsibility on women. Women were harped on continuously to dress modestly, sometimes with ridiculous dress codes enforced, but little was said about a man’s responsibility to guard his own heart from lust.
If a man sees a woman as a fellow human being and joint heir with Christ, that will shape his reaction to her regardless of what she wears. That does not mean she should wear inappropriate clothing, but men will find the battle with lust to be different when they begin to look at women differently—not just as bodies to be enjoyed, but as whole persons made in the image of God.
Anne Acker, CT online comment.
Her.meneutics: “To the Christian Men and Women Debating Yoga Pants,” by Lore Ferguson and Paul Maxwell.

A great question! Chances are we all grow/mature/evolve in our faith. Labels often fail to capture that nuance/complexity.
Jeffrey Barker @jtbarker310
“Is Billy Graham an Evangelical?” by Ted Olsen. Review of America’s Pastor by Grant Wacker.

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