October 19, 2017

Rachel Held Evans: An excerpt from “Searching for Sunday”

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We’ll take a break from John Walton today and pick up the discussion next week. I had hoped to complete the series today, but I would like to discuss a few more of his concepts and need a bit of time to get my thoughts together.

In a couple of weeks, we will blog through another book: Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church. Rachel has been a strong, sometimes controversial voice for the younger Christian generation that many call the “millennials.” I am obviously well past that age group, but my adult children are not, and many churches are struggling to know how to keep, reach, and pass the faith on to the folks in this season of life. I’m hoping we will attract some new and younger readers through giving attention to Rachel’s story. We need to hear their voice.

Today, I want to give you a taste of Searching for Sunday by quoting a passage from the book’s beginning in which she tries to “translate some of [the] angst” that she and her fellow millennials are feeling about God and faith and church.

But I can tell my own story, which studies suggest is an increasingly common one. I can talk about growing up evangelical, about doubting everything I believed about God, about loving, leaving, and longing for church, about searching for it and finding it in unexpected places. And I can share the stories of my friends and readers, people young and old whose comments, letters, and e-mails read like postcards from their own spiritual journeys, dispatches from America’s post-Christian frontier. I can’t provide the solutions church leaders are looking for, but I can articulate the questions that many in my generation are asking. I can translate some of their angst, some of their hope.

At least that’s what I tried to do when I was recently asked to explain to three thousand evangelical youth workers gathered together for a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, why millennials like me are leaving the church.

I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff — biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice — but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.

I explained that when our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends aren’t welcome at the table, then we don’t feel welcome either, and that not every young adult gets married or has children, so we need to stop building our churches around categories and start building them around people. And I told them that, contrary to popular belief, we can’t be won back with hipper worship bands, fancy coffee shops, or pastors who wear skinny jeans. We millennials have been advertised to our entire lives, so we can smell b.s. from a mile away. The church is the last place we want to be sold another product, the last place we want to be entertained.

Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity, I said. We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. Like every generation before ours and every generation after, we’re looking for Jesus — the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.

No coffee shops or fog machines required.

• p. xiiif

Comments

  1. “I explained that when our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends aren’t welcome at the table, then we don’t feel welcome either, and that not every young adult gets married or has children, so we need to stop building our churches around categories and start building them around people.”

    YES!

    “Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity, I said. We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity.”

    OK, the unfortunate thing about Millennials is that they are Boomers-lite (being the children of the same). The good thing is that, unlike we GenX-ears they actually have the numbers to maybe swing culture. Another good thing is their still-intact optimism. But that might also be their downfall; perhaps they need a bit of an X-er dose of realism (yes, some call it cynicism… but that’s just the other side of the coin).

    I guess what I’m saying is that I admire the Millenial wish for authenticity. But as an X-er, to whom the seeker sensitive stuff (and related “program-ianity”) was first foisted upon, it would be good if they’d notice that they have some somewhat older allies in this fight. Allies who, due to being stuck in a Boomer/Millennial sandwich, have been generally ignored on this topic since we were teenagers.

    Rant over. I’m going to go listen to some Nirvana. Or Steve Taylor. Or something. Whatever.

    • Eeyore says:

      perhaps they need a bit of an X-er dose of realism (yes, some call it cynicism… but that’s just the other side of the coin)

      “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.” – George Bernard Shaw

      But seriously, folks, in talking to the youth pastors, she’s preaching to the choir. THEY know, for the most part, what they’re up against. It’s the elders, the senior pastors, the boards of directors, who need to hear this. But a quick Google search will tell you that they’ve already made up their minds. Course to the cliff-edge, locked in, Captain…

      • Like said, program-ianity. Although it has gotten better in recent years. Maybe less Boomers and slowly more X-ers and Millennials in charge? Some intrepid seminary student needs to conduct a study…

      • StuartB says:

        “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.” – George Bernard Shaw

        “You’re just so negative all the time, always criticizing, why can’t you be happy and content…have you met Jesus?”

        My job and career literally means I spent every day looking at ways to improve things. That requires constant criticism, acknowledge what’s working, but focusing on what can be improved and worked upon. It’s an invaluable skill that many people don’t have. I can’t afford to be conservative beyond “it’s good enough at this time”, I have to always be looking into the future and innovating.

        Which I guess leaves quite a bit of tension with this ancient-future type path I’m and so many are on…lol.

  2. MikeInIowa says:

    Optimism, sure. As much as I agree with much of what she is saying, this is another generation of wanting it their way. I don’t think that this is wrong, not in the least. But we have seen this before as an emerging generation matures they tell us how we got/have it all wrong. I think she is commended for a calling of back to basics. But I wonder if her cry for retreat from the culture wars applies to left wing agendas as well?

    • A Simple Hillbilly says:

      I can’t speak for Rachel on this, but to answer your question (and since I’m from the same demographic), I hope a retreat from the culture wars applies to both the right and the left agendas. Both have their place in our culture, but church isn’t it.

      While we are at it, can I also nominate the vaguely Christian pop-psychology as the next thing evangelicals do away with? “We millennials have been advertised to our entire lives, so we can smell b.s. from a mile away.”

      • StuartB says:

        But nouthetic is BIBLICAL counseling!

        More like pathetic counseling, amirite?

      • cheesehed says:

        Hillbilly, Your first comment reminds me of a song lyric from Sam Phillips: “I need God, not the political church.”

        The Christian pop-psychology. Ugh. So much of it on “Christian” radio. poor psychology + poor theology.

        Christian radio drinking song: “ministry,” “vision.”

    • Mike, you are right to question this. I myself would allow some leeway here to the young, who, at least since the Boomers, have reacted to a dominant form of culture as portrayed in the media. The Christian Right has been the most vocal and publicized wing of Christianity for the past couple of generations. It is only natural for idealistic youth to see the problems and hypocrisy of those before their eyes and swing the pendulum to the other side.

      • It is only natural for idealistic youth to see the problems and hypocrisy of those before their eyes and swing the pendulum to the other side.

        , as they, themselves, come to the realization that their OWN beliefs are just mimicking the larger society in which they swim, just as the generations before them have come to that realization.

        • Jazziscoolithink says:

          Such a simple way to dismiss a whole host of substantial arguments without having to engage a single one.

          • Jazz, I’m not saying their arguments aren’t substantial. I was merely commenting on the right/left swing that is common, generally speaking, between generations.

          • Jazziscoolithink says:

            I was responding to Oscar’s comment. I agree with your assessment and understand the importance of being aware of the pendulum swing. But I’ve seen this pendulum swing thing used as a way to, like I said, dismiss the arguments of younger generations without having to engage them. And I often get the sense that Oscar is doing this. I love and respect the many mentors I’ve had from past generations. I listen to them and realize they know things that I don’t. But I won’t allow someone to dismiss the concerns important to so many in my generation simply because they are important to a younger generation. That is wrongheaded–not to mention hopelessly cliched.

        • That’s one way to see it. Another is to examine the argument for potential merit.

          I agree that Millennials are mainly not pragmatic enough (from an X-er perspective anyhow). But I can also appreciate their idealism and general optimism. I also get the feeling that they are more concerned with personal and community change ( communitarianism) than trying to change culture at large.

          That final observation is important, if true. And it’s a refreshing change from Boomer-driven moral majority crapola.

          • …and this is why Millennials often seem baffling in a Boomer context. There’s less concern with mass movement, and more with small movement.

      • MikeInIowa says:

        I agree on the leeway. Question away. I’ve asked many of the same questions. Many of the questions being asked now, 10, 20, 50 years ago are legitimate and need to be asked. Where I wrestle are the answers. Many questions of what the Emergent Movement asked were legitimate. The answers that many in that group came up with was nothing more than what was before, only watered down in a more progressive manner.
        We all tend to swing on the pendulum in the opposite way, but end up regretting it down the road. The thing we should’ve realized when we were younger, and what the young should realize now as well is that there is nothing new under the sun. Those who have gone before us asked questions too, as did we. And while we are young, things are more black and white and the answers much more simplistic and seemingly, obvious.
        I can speak from experience as I’m sure most here can: We grow up with a set of values and beliefs and think there is nothing else. We are introduced to something new, and BAM! a new center with which to orbit! Then we are introduced with something else and BAM! another new center with which to orbit! etc. etc. Then as times progresses we see that maybe things need to be held in tension….and the answers aren’t as clear as we thought while we were young and blaming those “old people” who never questioned a damn thing. When actually they did and realized having answers isn’t always easy and obvious.

        • Jazziscoolithink says:

          Context(s) matters. You speak in terms of universals–as if you’re experience is necessarily true for all other individuals and generations. You’re wrong on that. You also talk as if you have younger generations figured out. Like you already know what they believe or how they think. You’re also wrong on this. I’d suggest you take time to have a conversation with someone from the Millenial generation in which you listen instead of make pronouncements of pseudo-wisdom. I’m a Millenial. My church is made up of mostly 60-80 year olds who I resepct and listen to–and they respect and listen to me. We come from various contexts. That should be celebrated, not diminished. I understand that simplifying life into supposedly universal truths makes it easier for certain people to have the appearance of having something of substance to say, but it doesn’t change the reality that their bullshit is glaringly obvious.

          • “I understand that simplifying life into supposedly universal truths makes it easier for certain people to have the appearance of having something of substance to say, but it doesn’t change the reality that their bullshit is glaringly obvious.”

            Program-ianity. “Buy the material, show the movie, sing the song. Let’s all get on board and change Congress/Parliament.”

          • MikeInIowa says:

            You are right. Context matters. Maybe the questions are different. Still doesn’t change the (yes) general idea that young folk (not just today) are usually full of bullshit in their thinking that they are the first to question anything. Your reply is making my point, beautifully. I’ll sit back now and listen and set my pseudo wisdom aside and wait for the next bunch of young folk question your answers.

          • Mike, that reply of yours seems unnecessarily harsh.

            I am, btw, in my late 50s.

    • StuartB says:

      As much as I agree with much of what she is saying, this is another generation of wanting it their way.

      Except, fundamentally, it’s not. It’s a reaction to a generation that DID want their own way. By and large, we want to go BACK to what had been for centuries. How is that us wanting our own way?

  3. ashley says:

    I’m a quiet follower here, and at Rachel’s site, but as a 24 year old, I found so much comfort in the things she had to say when I was in my own wilderness. Same story, evangelical upbringing (even toward a fundamentalist leaning), wound up with so many doubts and questions when I started to think harder about some tricky things, and try as they might, at a point I’d read so many answers offered by apologetics that they just didnt help. It became an intellectual consumption of answers, that seemed to have no actual basis in the life I was living and experiencing. It just left me feeling even emptier.

    All I can say is that today I’m in a mainline church, I’m still struggling with doubts, questions and concerns and my own personal growth in trying to leave behind a mindset of legalism, but I’m thankful for the grace, and radically different view of God I’m seeing where I am. I don’t know that the particular denomination I’m in is my “forever home” but it’s been a good place to wrestle with my doubts and questions. The very fact that our Sunday School is able to openly talk about it and wrestle together, is a big reason I stay. I’m learning grace, even in the midst of disagreement. I look forward to hearing more of her book explored in this space.

    • greg r says:

      Interesting, and helpful, comment about apologetics, Ashley. thanks for commenting here at the Imonastery.

  4. Rachel really has not said anything new that has not been discussed before. She has left the evangelical world for the mainline liturgical world. It would have been better for her to just focus on where she thinks she is going as an individual rather than leaving a scorched trail behind her. Its easy to throw stones when you think you have found something new. The irony of it all is that she has found her new home in the Episcopalian Church which is the largest mainline church in losing members. It also has an average age of 62 of the persons sitting in the pews with few if any children or young adults. I don’t think the studies show a huge movement from Evangelical to mainline. I am saying this as an Episcopalian who has considered going to the Evangelical Church.

    • Rachel talks to a lot of young people. I’m not sure she would ever have written much of what she has if she just focused “on where she thinks she is going as an individual.”

    • David,
      I’ve been in the Episcopal Church now for two years from Evangelicalism. The spoken liturgy has been a place of solace and refuge for me from the politics and “praise band” stuff of Evangelicalism. Episcopalians tend to be white, older and upper middle class. There is more diversity of people in Evangelicalism. I’ll go back to Evangelicalism after a season of decompression.

    • David: “It would have been better for her to just focus on where she thinks she is going as an individual rather than leaving a scorched trail behind her.”

      Thousands have done just that. She has given them voice, for whatever it’s worth. To be opposed to someone telling the story is to be in favor of the status quo.

      Gil Scott Heron (in a different context): “The revolution will not be televised. It will be live.”

    • StuartB says:

      Imagine how awesome it would be if because of RHE and other’s influence, those stats flip, and all of a sudden the Episcopalian church is the fastest growing for the under 35 crowd, then a large gap, with the fastest decline in the 65 plus crowd?

  5. Cedric Klein says:

    I took RHE off my FB feed the more she squealed with delight as Driscoll’s problems kept accelerating. Not because I was a big Driscoll fan but because she became the LeftaFeminist version of the smug self-satisfied Righty Machovangelical she stood against. I am glad she has found a home in the Episcopal Church as every believer in Christ needs a church to call home, and I was getting tired of her talking about how she needed to leave us Evangelicals & now was wandering around homeless.

    • I’ve known others who’ve had the same reaction to Rachel, Cedric. Sometimes I wonder, though, are we just showing our age?

      • Justin says:

        No, I’m barely older than her and I had the same reaction. The gleeful takedown of Mark Driscoll (who I think is a creep, and was thinking it long before she and others chimed in) seemed a bit tacky a times.

        And then it was followed by the stone-cold silence on Tony Jones. Then the passive/aggressive tweets and deleting of comments on her blog about his misdeeds. Then the court papers and other things released that shows this “Progressive” Christian was doing worse things than Mark Driscoll — and nothing. All of this energy spent of showing how sexist these Complimentarians and Calvinists were, and then PR speak when a college was accused of calling his ex-wife Bat@#$ Crazy.

        • Jazziscoolithink says:

          Just to be clear: “Barely older than her” means that you are not a Millenial–for what it’s worth.

          • RHE barely makes the cut, herself. I just turned 32 and I’m near the cutoff – but I do relate much better to millenial culture than Gen-X by a wide margin. It’s funny how I felt the gulf even in high school. As a sophomore and junior, I related far better to the classes below me than the classes above me. It felt like a whole generation of difference.

        • Christiane says:

          well, when you think about Driscoll’s self-destruction, you have to understand that Rachel may have been thinking about how Driscoll wrote about his own wife, Grace.

          When Driscoll deconstructed, there was a lot more to celebrate than just a narcissist’s implosion . . . his ‘macho’ world had a price tag and it was partially paid for by disrespecting women and Driscoll himself set the tone for that, I’m afraid.

          Maybe Rachel was ‘gleeful’ because she understood, as a woman, the seriousness of the impact of Driscoll’s ‘mighty male’ teachings when those teachings came down on the heads of the wives and daughters of men caught up in this chauvinism.

          It was just Driscoll who fell from grace . . . he took a lot of bad teaching with him, and that WAS something to celebrate, when you realize that the victims of it were real people in real circumstances.

        • I had the same reaction. Her reaction to Driscoll seemed like a funhouse mirror of what she was standing against (and I have been lamenting Driscoll for a few years now). Then, her deafening silence over the Tony Jones situation when her finances just happened to be tied up with his name – that was the last straw for me. She is right, we can smell BS a mile away – and Rachel smells just like evangelicalism.

          • I didn’t follow the Jones kerfuffle, so I can’t speak to that. But I tend to give people room unless I come to understand they are being deceptive, manipulative, mean, power-hungry, or completely self-absorbed. I even wrote a few posts along the way that cut Driscoll some slack. Everybody sins, fails, blows it, and we’re not always eager to acknowledge it. I’ve never got the sense that Rachel has good intentions and generally tries to do and say the right thing. I wouldn’t give her space here if I didn’t believe that.

          • I agree with everything Rachel said in the excerpt (I do wish she’d address scripture more about the gay issue, though), but with her massive mis-handling of the Tony Jones/Julie McMahon situation – deleting questioning and challenging comments is so not cool – made me see that since she has no ministry other than her blog, books, and speeches, she’s just another person using Christianity to make money. The emperor has no clothes.

          • Dana Ames says:

            I, too, am very disappointed over Rachel’s retreat from the Tony Jones issue. While this has affected how and what I think about the nature of her progressivism, I tend to cut her some slack personally, because I have been through the situation of having a very close friend with a personality disorder. My friend was not NPD and I had no business/financial ties with her, but I surely did endure some inner turmoil when, out of the blue, she “dropped me” after a relationship of 15 years I’m not going to tell Jones’ friends to “drop” him; Jones needs help, and perhaps Rachel will see that one way she can help him (and begin to restore her credibility on this issue) is to help *herself* by extricating herself from any financial connection with him, and at least speak with Julie privately.

            Dana

          • I’m glad this is being talked about.

            No one is immune from the temptations of power dynamics, even those who previously advocated for people hurt by them.

          • Dana and Sean – yes. And it’s being addressed withot rancor or nastiness.

          • Patrick Kyle says:

            Dr.

            It appears you and I agree on this one. Tony Jones makes Driscoll seem like a junior varsity misogynist and hypocrite, and RHE’s handling of the situation gives the lie to her supposed feminism.

      • CM – I don’t think the distress and protest against the way she has mishandled things re. Jones-Julie McMahon has *anything* to do with anyone’s “showing [their] age.”

        • That may be so (I didn’t really follow that blow-up), but it wasn’t Cedric’s original point, which is the one to which I was responding.

          • CM, it is ongoing. Unfortunately.

            I have not been reading her work since she started mass-deleting comments. Nor have i wanted to reaf/comment at NBW’s blog, etc. There has bern true mass deletion of comments there (over 800, by her husband), following on her post endorsing Jones’ latest book.

            As to the man bejng defended, please see TWW’s latest plus the updates on David Hayward’s blog.

          • Final Anonymous says:

            With all due respect, it might be worth your while to catch up on the situation before giving her more platform and publicity.

    • Jazziscoolithink says:

      Yeah, like Chaplain Mike said, I think your age is showing. I never got the sense that RHE “squealed with delight” over Driscoll’s downfall. That very language used against a woman (“squealed with delight”, etc.) smacks of a middle-class, straight, white male complaining that the past is past.

      • MikeInIowa says:

        Careful…we wouldn’t want “to dismiss a whole host of substantial arguments without having to engage a single one.”

        • Jazziscoolithink says:

          In what way am I doing that? More and more I’m realizing how ingrown the imonk community has become. There are some great people on here, but they are the exceptions. This will most likely be my last visit to the site–not that it matters to you.

          • Jazz, I hope not. You have an important voice. The community shifts and changes. I hope you’ll stick it out.

          • Stephen says:

            Jazziscoolithink do you read your posts before you submit them? Do you ever try to imagine what they sound like to someone who doesn’t know you?

            You just insulted the entire community because someone had the temerity to disagree with you. And then you want to hold us all hostage to your participation.

            Is this really what you were trying to communicate?

            • Stephen, I think he has some valid points. I sometimes worry that we’ve turned into a barbershop of curmudgeons around here too. I’d rather we ALL focus on the content of what’s being said, welcome each participant, and discuss things with grace and forbearance.

          • Jazziscoolithink says:

            Stephen, he wasn’t disagreeing with me; he was using a previous comment I’d made against me to do the very thing I brought up: dismiss me without engaging my comment. So yeah, I’m not feeling great about the community as a whole. And I realize that this is a blog on which almost anyone can post. I get that. But my cousin killed himself a month ago, and I’m particularly sensitive to the inhospitality of the church. Chaplain Mike, thanks for trying to see things from my perspective.

          • JazzisCool we always welcome contrarians around here. But you do come across with an edge and sound dismissive of those who do not agree with you. So expect people to push back.

            All we really want is that you treat others musings with the same respect you want others to treat you. Recognize that we all come from very different backgrounds so we really need to have grace with each other.

            Chaplain Mike at times we are a barbershop of curmudgeons! At times I get tired of the constant beating up of our own past and making it an environment here were (pardon my characterization here) the average bible believing Christian (which some of us were) would get chased away without being able to dialog, leaving a trail of tar and feathers.

          • Dana Ames says:

            Jazz, I am so sorry for your loss.

            Dana

      • StuartB says:

        It’s blatant sexism and disrespectful. Much like all those comments from some about how her husband should put her in her place.

        Moscow, Iowa, a pox on you.

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        “smacks of a middle-class, straight, white male ” As though that is the epitome of all that is bad. It’s the modern liberal equivalent of the ‘bogey man.’ Blame the white guys, it’s always their fault, especially if they have achieved anything, and aren’t gay.

    • Driscoll was (still is, it seems) part of the problem. As are the patriarchal wing of the neo-Cals. Their entire model harkens back to that same methodology developed by the evangelical “moral majority” in the 80s.

      The older among that group were part of the inception of that milleau. The younger (e.g. Driscoll) drank their Kool-ade and were used by the older as useful idiots (often in the metaphorical sense… I think Driscoll is actually quite intelligent).

    • StuartB says:

      I took RHE off my FB feed the more she squealed with delight as Driscoll’s problems kept accelerating.

      Squealed with delight?

  6. No coffee shops or fog machines required.

    Kind of afraid to ask… But are there really churches that use fog machines during worship?

    • oh yeah. And I edited out one paragraph from this excerpt, in which she states the irony of being averse to things like fog machines while speaking from an evangelical youth workers convention stage where they had the hippest bands and used the fog machines during the conference.

      • Shows how out of it I am! I was thinking like the tea you get in Canada called ‘London Fog’ and kinda wondering about such an invention!

    • Yes.

    • *groan* I have enough trouble w/guitar solos during worship. If I saw a fog machine I might run straight for the nearest church with a formal liturgy…

  7. Christopher Lake says:

    Much of what I have seen in Rachel’s writing seems to come from a place of mostly having awareness of Protestant Christianity (evangelicalism, Reformed thinking, and mainline denominations). I wonder, has she ever looked into the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy? She would not agree with their position on women’s ordination, so that could be a real sticking point for her. However, as much as the Catholic Church gets criticized for supposedly being “homophobic” and “hateful,” this passages in the Catechism do exist, and I think that Rachel might be surprised to find some things that she would agree with, if she were to look:

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
    (Source: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm)

    Also, there is this thoughtful document from the USCCB: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/homosexuality/always-our-children.cfm

  8. Christopher Lake says:

    Ugh– I meant to correct a sentence before I hit send… I meant to type, “…this *passage* in the Catechism *does* exist! 🙂 Typing early in the morning here…

  9. David H says:

    “We want to talk about the tough stuff…but without predetermined conclusions”

    So very true (sometimes guilty of that myself)

  10. Jazziscoolithink says:

    Far from attracting younger people to imonk, I expect that this post will reveal to what were once potential subscribers the utter lack of welcome among many of imonk’s regular commenters.

    • How so? Young people are aware that there are multiple opinions. They, themselves, aren’t monolithic and, to a great extent, have less pressure on them to conform than several generations before.

      They should be able to handle healthy debate.

      And of course views here will tend to swing one way (ironically seemingly the same direction you’re swinging). Like any other site of this type, a tribe develops for better or for worse. And the tribe here seems a heckuvalot broader than what I’ve mainly seen in evangelicaldom.

      • Jazziscoolithink says:

        It isn’t the multiplicity of opinions that bothers me. It’s the lack of welcome attached to a great many commenters. I’m all for diverse opinions. I prefer it, in fact. But I feel, as a member of a younger generation, often disrespected by imonk commenters precisely because of my age. As if my opinions aren’t as valid as those who have lived longer than me. But, as I’ve come to realize in my admittedly short life, age does not necessarily bring wisdom–more often hardness of heart.

        • Jazz, I remember when I was fairly new at iMonk and I asked Rachel to contribute some posts. She did, but the commenters did not treat her well. I was embarrassed. I myself have come under fire from some of them when mentioning her approvingly.

          One thing I don’t want the iMonk community to become is an “old boys’ network,” a Greek chorus that swiftly dismisses others. That’s why people like you are so valuable to us. Hang in there.

          • Yes to this! As I said, the tribal tent here has always seemed larger than many of the other places that I tend to run into on the interwebs. I hope it stays that way.

        • You have an important voice. Please stick around.

          If I can, you can too, although I have to change my handle frequently to avoid moderation.

          • Mule, you are not under active moderation.

          • My posts never show up if I post under “Mule Chewing Briars” or “Asinus Spinas Masticans”, but IM isn’t the only place I’ve experienced this.

            Father Stephen Freeman seems to be moderating me as well.

            Still, I like having Jazz around. You can’t tell how old people are on the Internet anyway.

            I’m 63 – Yeah, I know, old enough I oughta know better, but still…

            • Mule, this isn’t an active moderation. Sometimes WordPress throws stuff in spam on its own (one thing that drives me crazy). But I will check the spam folder. Why don’t you try posting under those names today and see what happens. I will try to catch it if it throws it away.

          • yes good old Muley! I am glad to see you back! And you used to stir up hornets nests!

          • StuartB says:

            You know, WordPress is up to like version 4.2 or something now…lol

            • Stuart, we’re up to speed, and it’s better than it used to be, but, for example, one of your comments was held as “pending” today even though all the others went straight through. I asked God about it, and all he said was, “Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

              I have no idea why it does some things.

          • StuartB says:

            Gremlins. And if you tried to duplicate the issue, it wouldn’t happen.

            It’s a feature, not a bug…

          • Mule I find your comments most fascinating and your knowledge of certain things definitely get my attention……Thanks….just had to say it

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            W –

            I gotta say it. I am glad you’re on this board as well. You evidently love the Lord, and you’re closer to Him than I’m likely to get in the time that remains to me.

            You’re a good poet too. Do you ever put any of your poems to music?

          • Means a lot Mule, and no on the music as I just do not have that gift. I would like to write a 365 meditation but mostly what I do is love to write every morning as I try to listen. I’m getting older and I wish my hearing was better. First a sentence I didn’t have and then a verse which becomes a page and a thank you and I need you and I love you before the long day that most likely will physically hurt me as well as inside my chest.

        • StuartB says:

          As in, “why isn’t my older middle class straight white male undereducated Bible-believing conservative opinion respected”?

          It’s almost the new Hitler reference online. How long until that gets trotted out?

          Here’s a hint for why it’s not immediately respected: because it’s 99.9% of all opinions out there in the world. When the majority shows up and has to silence you or humiliate you or shame you into listening/accepting their opinion, there are huge problems.

          So no, your opinion is not respected. We’ve heard it. Kindly humble yourself and listen for once in your life.

          • StuartB says:

            “Respect your elders!”

            Age doesn’t make you an elder. Nor does maturity. That’s a church construct that has no place in a discussion amongst equals. Kindly play nice, or gone on your way with our blessing.

          • [Note from CM: Mule – here’s an example. This went to spam. I’ll keep checking and maybe we can train the filter.]

            “As in, ‘why isn’t my older middle class straight white male undereducated Bible-believing conservative opinion respected’? “

            No, it’s ‘ why isn’t my older middle class straight white male undereducated Bible-believing conservative opinion the Null Hypothesis any longer? ‘

        • Jazz, i don’t want to see you leave. I realize things are diffivult here at times, but it id jit, i think, due to your age. I get it sometimes, too, and so do othrrs. Just hang in there.

        • Jazz,
          I would not have known your age if you had not mentioned it. For that matter, I wouldn’t have known several other people’s ages here if they had not volunteered them. I am always amazed to find young people here agreeing with me (well, when they do).

          I went to the same college RHE did, although half a generation before her, and came from a different background than she did. I respect her search which took her outside of evangelicalism and am glad she found a home. But… I was saved when evangelicalism wasn’t (quite) cool yet. We young people were asking the same questions that young people are asking now. And honestly, most of the time we got the responses from older folks that we older folks are giving young people now.

          It’s not that we’re right and you’re wrong. It’s that we’ve been through this before and tried to change things. So on the surface things look different, but underneath it’s the same thing. We don’t use pianos and organs so much for the music, and we dress more casually than we did. But, our hearts are still on our own comfort and the safety of our loved ones.

          How to change this? Criticism doesn’t work, even though it’s been tried for millenia.

          Show us Jesus. Point us to him. Not a certain way of interacting with him, but HIM. That’s what I loved about Michael Spencer and what I miss most.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Jazz,

          like DebD I had no idea of your age until today.

          One of the things I appreciate so much about iMonk, old and new, is that it’s possible for ideas to be discussed here because people generally make the effort to engage the ideas more than the personalities. iMonk gets criticized for being a bastion for oldsters, or for being too progressive, or for “bashing” Evangelicals, or for being “too Lutheran,” and for other reasons. There is something to the old saw that if someone/something is getting criticized by people from many sides, then chances are some kind of truth is being expounded.

          Dana

  11. Stephen says:

    Every generation has to find its own way. More power to you.

    Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that because this is the first time you’ve asked these questions means it’s the first time anybody has asked these questions.

    What I really find ridiculous are these labels! Every generation is sized up, packaged and labeled. Don’t you realize this is just a marketing tool designed to sell you stuff? Question this too!

  12. james91945 says:

    Gee, I hope the next real “Jesus Movement’ comes soon. This tight-knit community has already alienated a majority of my Christian experience. Evangelical; boomer; gay; white male – all of which is me. I attend church mainly for 2 reasons. The exposition of the Word; and involvement.

    For me, the best teachers are from the original Jesus Movement of the 70s (Calvary Chapel). There’s none better in my opinion. I do think Evangelical church as become too commercial, and I loathe to sing the same phrase for the 13th time. I overlook this because of the exposition of the Word, but it doesn’t stop there for me.

    I’m not a pew warmer. When I was involved, I was active in the church (taught Sunday School, etc). But I haven’t attended for 15+ years as I’ve had a partner for 15 years now whom I actually met at Bible study!! I can’t be honest and involved when I’m constantly avoiding the ‘big question’. I feel the subject of homosexuality is the most talked about subject on Sundays lately.

    So here I sit observing and hoping a sea of real, honest, change comes soon. Some may say that it’s me that needs to change, but don’t know. I’ll be honest and say I still struggle with my own sexuality (raised pentecostal) in my mid-50s and feel I’m trying to mix oil and water. I’m still looking for the courage, but really feel I’ll live my life out studying by myself.

    I hope that if the millennials are successful in building a better, new Church it includes the ‘gay, white male; boomers’ that everyone seems to think is the bane of society. Those of us who are doing our best to walk the Faith still have something valuable to offer.

    • Great comment James. You are welcome here, and if you ever feel you are not, I’ll be happy to sic the hounds on your critics.

    • StuartB says:

      Agreed with what Chaplain Mike said. Welcome!

      Gee, I hope the next real “Jesus Movement’ comes soon.

      From my perspective, James, it’s that exact Jesus Movement type of converts/legacy that is what causes you so many troubles in the church. My time around JM converts revealed they were often the ones demonstrating the least amount of love and most hatred towards homosexuals and others. It’s such a deep irony that for so many many who focused exclusively on Jesus’ love for them to have that reaction later in life.

      And as I’ve mentioned farther up in the comments, my generation is reacting to that. We’re reverting BACK to what was, with some lessons learned painfully.

      In a way, it’s akin to the whole dispensationalism/end times perspective. Enough generations have grown up believing it that’s it’s now accepted that’s dispy is what ALL believers have always believed. To question otherwise, to even dare point out that dispy has a start date and no one believed it prior to that…that’s rank heresy. You have to step back and see even more history to realize just how microcosmic it is, and how most of us are stuck in it without realizing it’s a bubble.

      • Stuat, it’s a sad fact thst many people get harder as they get older. I have seen it eith my contemporaries, and in myself (JM-era person that i am).

        Being open to others is a lifelong challenge, i think.

  13. We want to talk about the tough stuff — biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice — but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers.
    My experience has been in the mainline denominations. I for one can tell you that the issues she lists above are always discussed with predetermined conclusions. She has merely exchanged the right for the left. Oh that we could find a church where these issues could be discussed without the —– phobe tossed around and differences of opinion could be respected. This is never done in any tribe no matter how many times you switch tribes.

    • Oh that we could find a church where these issues could be discussed without the —– phobe tossed around and differences of opinion could be respected.

      I don’t think this can be done in Protestantism as it is currently constituted in North America. The Evangelical and Mainline churches are define themselves by the algorithms used to generate those predetermined conclusions.

      Tribalism is about the best you do under those circumstances. It remains to be seen if the Catholics can avoid this. The Trads seem to be in a lather over Pope Francis. Tribalism is endemic to the Orthodox Church as well, but at least it isn’t ideological.

      Outside North America, I can guarantee you that there is little traction for the Mainline algorithm. Just about all Protestants are Evangelicals, and growing very very rapidly.

  14. I am a boomer and see some hope in this development!

    There are many of us who were in the counter culture when we were younger. Once becoming Christians we were either part of the Jesus people or influenced by them.

    We valued authenticity and community and felt that church was often plastic. Over the years began to ‘fit in’ to church culture while not really liking it.

    And now in my circles many people are just giving up on church. We are tired of programs, controlling leaders, and worship that has become performance.

    I find I resonate very much with some of what is being said.

    • Great!! And I don’t mean to paint any one generation. It’s just that much of this seeker sensitive, fog machine, a-program-for-everything, and let’s meet at the flagpole stuff that still permeates the evangelical world started with your generation.

      The other thing that bothers me, and this is a demographics issue AND a general attitude issue, is that I find that Boomers still are running the show almost entirely and X-ers are still often in the background (although we’re now pretty much all into our forties).

      This is, yes, a demographic thing. There are a lot more of you (and a lot more of your offspring) than there are of us.

      It’s also an attitudinal thing. Likely in part brought on by over-programming in churches as kids, general latch-key culture, and running smack dab into a massive recession as soon as it was time to find jobs after college. Much of my generation’s pragmatism (or cynicism, however you cut it) means that many of us are just not willing to stick our necks out needlessly. We are often content to get things done in the background… classic introverts, perhaps.

      I see Boomers and their Millennial offspring as, in a general generational way, more like classic extroverts.

      Nothing wrong with either introverts or extroverts. Both are needed to make the world go around. But both also need to understand each other and the contributions that they can make.

  15. Marc B. says:

    Chaplain Mike (and others commenting here), would love to get your thoughts on this review of Rachel’s book:

    http://9marks.org/review/book-review-searching-for-sunday-by-rachel-held-evans/

    I had a weird reaction to this review. A big part of me (the part of me that is in the post-evangelical wilderness) felt frustrated (record number of times he uses the word “biblical”). Ortlund writes “Trouble is, the overall tone of this book, though it makes some good points and makes them in striking ways, remains too unserious to help me.” Does every “Christian” book need to be viewed as a “self-help” manual? I’m looking at my bookshelf right now and am reminded of how much money I have spent over the years on “Christian” books. I could say something cynical right now, but I’m going to resist….

    But at the same time, I recognize and understand that the reviewer is speaking from his own sincere (yet perhaps narrow) spiritual convictions. From that standpoint, I feel that I am no different. I am simply speaking/reacting from the place that I am right now which I realize, in spite of all my experiences and learning, is still very limited.

    As for the book, I just finished the first chapter (Baptism) and I am enjoying it so far. Unlike the reviewer, I am not looking at “Searching for Sunday” as a “help me” book. I am taking it more as an opportunity to listen to and thoughtfully consider someone else’s authentic spiritual experiences.

    • After reading about 9Marks on the Wartburg Watch site, I’d be wary of anything that comes from 9Marks.

      • Marc B. says:

        Agreed PM. It’s just that I have friends who probably think highly of 9Marks, so I feel like I have to navigate the waters carefully…..

        • StuartB says:

          Sorta like Sharper Iron in my neck of the woods…such a strange thing when you personally know the majority of posters.

  16. StuartB says:

    tl;dr version of the 9Marks review –

    But here is another proposal—the nine marks of a healthy church:

    Expositional preaching
    Biblical theology
    The biblical gospel
    A biblical understanding of conversion
    A biblical understanding of evangelism
    A biblical understanding of church membership
    Biblical church discipline
    A concern for discipleship and growth
    Biblical church leadership.

    So, in order.

    1 – verse by verse, say whatever you want because you aren’t bound by context other than immediately proceeding and succeeding
    2 – as narrowly defined by whom
    3 – insert Trademark
    4 – as narrowly defined by whom
    5 – ”
    6 – ”
    7 – as narrowly defined by 9Marks (see Wartburg Watch for that)
    8 – as narrowly defined by the remnants of the shepherding movement
    9 – “not Roman”

    So…it’s hard to read the 9Marks article critically when they don’t acknowledge and wrestle with RHE’s points instead of immediately putting the “TRUE ™” version out there.

    • StuartB says:

      tl;dr redux, just read this paragraph:

      As I look at those two paradigms of Christianity, here is the question I cannot escape: Which of the two is more convincing as true to the Bible? To me, the answer is obvious. But for someone less motivated to require a biblical pattern, Evans’ proposal might satisfy just as well, and maybe more so.

      • Yeah, it is astonishing to me that anyone takes the “9 marks of a healthy church” as anything other than parody. I guess it has to do with America’s insatiable appetite for innovation. Ironic that things actually associated with a healthy church in the NT (fruit of the spirit, love, feeding widows and orphans, etc.) are not mentioned. I just can’t take that crowd seriously.

        • StuartB says:

          The article is disgusting. He didn’t read her book. He pulled a list of 9 things. And immediately said she wasn’t biblical enough, and here’s a true biblical list.

          I’m done reading her critics. And most of these critical groups online. They are worthless.

  17. Mike H says:

    Over on his blog a few weeks ago, Pete Enns had a post entitled “one big reason why so many young people are giving up on the Bible–and their faith”

    There are a lot of similarities in RHE’s excerpt here with what Pete put in that post and in some of the comments there.

    There was a very disturbing select group of commenters there who resorted to outright dismissal – some appealing to God’s “sovereignty” in saying that not all were destined to be “saved” anyways, and that the youth trends are just examples of an inevitable (and perhaps divinely ordained) “falling away”. Theologically, they were simply incapable of caring about the challenges of young people. But bottom line, many of the comments focused on the reasons that “young people” are nothing more than selfish, spoiled, immature, shallow, instant gratification seeking rebels – and that their viewpoints can therefore be ignored. The attitude was that if they come around, they come around – but don’t cater to “cultural trends”.

    Personally, I think we’re in uncharted territory in many, many ways in our world. I really don’t believe that young people (not just young people) today are facing the same issues that people have always faced. The trends and realities that Rachel pointed to in this excerpt – these aren’t just symptoms of life in a world that is the same as it’s ever been. It’s not accurate to think that people will just “get through it” and return to their old time religion.

    Anyways, I really hope that Rachel’s voice can be heard here when it comes time to discuss her book – her voice is quite representative of a large group of people.

    • StuartB says:

      To use one example, just how different was the dating/courtship paradigm when the national post office was invented? Or the telephone? Or the Internet.

      It is a different world.

    • Eeyore says:

      but don’t cater to ‘cultural trends’

      Unless those trends are properly ossified centuries-old social, epistemological, and theological paradigms. Then it’s perfectly OK…

      It kills me that the TR folks love to take Catholics to task for their “idolatry” of tradition and Canon law – and treat the Puritans and Westminster Standards with the same fervor and reverence without a blink.

    • Mike, I think a lot has changed – the New Atheists and others are asking questions that used to be limited to seminaries (ironically). Now it is perfectly ok to ask why in hell “god” would ordain the ethnically based slaughter and rape of entire people groups. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good answers out there, especially coming from American evangelicalism, which is shackled by CSBI. Paul Copan, for example, wrote a book on the topic (Is God a Moral Monster?) that I found hugely dissatisfying. Until Christianity comes to terms with the skeletons in our holy book and tradition, I think the younger generation will see us as nothing more than a social club, complete with dues.

      • Gerhard says:

        I think you hit the nail on the head there. The challenges of pluralism and new atheism, particularly, beg for the reconsiderations of old evangelical standards. I am myself a millennial who was raised funda-gelical, drank the progressive kool-aid and drifted so far left as to self-identify as agnostic, and then gradually gravitated back to an orthodox but moderate Christianity. The biggest causes of my going off the deep end and abandoning religion were: a) the realization that my more “liberal” crowd (emergents and progressive mainliners) also was guilty of unaddressed biases and a very ugly side; b) the challenges posed by pluralism and evil (especially God-sanctioned evil in the Bible). What made me come back (as a moderate confessional Lutheran) was a collection of things, but mostly: a) the inescapability of having to account for some experiences I have had and things I have witnessed (and had brushed aside as freak phenomena when I became agnostic); b) the realization that I had spent a great deal of time attempting to fashion a religion of my own making by picking and choosing what I personally preferred and disliked in historical Christianity, which directly led me to a confused, shallow pit-stop towards secularism; c) meeting a few very well-educated and intellectual orthodox Christians who were very unlike the other intellectuals I had surrounded myself with (I’m in academia); and d) the utter indifference (sometimes despair/hopelessness) my agnostic/atheistic worldview had led me towards after some years. I agree that brushing the skeletons under the rug is the main thing keeping people like me away – and most of those, I feel, finally come down to the issue of Biblical authority. I find that most of my colleagues (in secular university) who are Christian share my rejection of both evangelical rigidity and progressive laxity – we can’t swallow inerrancy or YEC, but neither do we want to create our own mosaic of belief and do away with a robust inherited tradition (by which I mean theological and not only liturgical). Eh, my two cents, anyway!

  18. I’m about done with RHE. I don’t say that lightly.

    I found an ally in her as I was on an interpretive journey through seminary. She was blogging through books I was reading. She was making intelligent use of academic resources and modeling how accessible these resources are for our generation. She was a prophetic voice among evangelicals. But somewhere around the World Vision debacle she shifted. She became more disdainful. She attempted to be a prophetic voice TO evangelicals from a different stream… with some slight arrogance.

    I don’t know… it seems like people who advocate for those who’ve been hurt by border-keepers and eventually find some public recognition end up becoming a sort of border-keeper themselves.

    And if you’ve been following the saga, as a person in power it seems like she has avoided the levels of transparency and honesty that she has called other people of power to in the recent past in situations of leadership gone awry.

    • Michael says:

      it seems like people who advocate for those who’ve been hurt by border-keepers and eventually find some public recognition end up becoming a sort of border-keeper themselves.

      This is so, so very true.

    • I’m in the same boat, Sean, though i would love to see her truly address the problrms in question in a good way.

  19. Regarding her previous book, I like what David Fitch says a lot. I’ll link to the whole post at the end. I have a similar struggle when i hear people wrestling with ideas that make me think “nobody really thinks like that, how can you take it seriously?” My evangelical milieu is different from most here.

    I remember when Brian McLaren came out with A New Kind of Christian in 2003. It was brilliant. It gave a voice to thousands. It made space safe for the kind of conversations everybody wanted to have. This is the magic of popular publishing and social media (back then it was blogs). Shortly thereafter, came Generous Orthodoxy, Secret Message of Jesus, Everything Must Change. And I remember several conversations with teachers of theology within academia. They were shocked at Brian’s success and the speed by which his ideas were being hailed as revolutionary. For most of these academics, his work appeared to be using categories established pre Barth (before World War 2). They would ask, “How could something so old gain such popularity as if it’s new?” In the words of a friend, it was Adolf Harnack without the footnotes. Why were these books influencing so many people when its issues, problems and deficits had long been exposed within the history of not only WW2 Germany but US scholarship? Who would put this great book in its proper context? I remember getting a copy of Rachel Held Evans ‘s A Year in Biblical Womanhood. Its popularity surprised me. To me she targeted a hermeneutic of Scripture which was debunked so long ago I could not understand why anyone would care? Does anyone still actually view the Bible in this absurdly simplistic way? I asked. Furthermore, I felt, when she went on CNN etc., promoting the book, it cast Christians as neanderthal idiots. But I hadn’t met someone who still thought in this hyperliteralist way about Scripture since my high school days, and that was in the 70’s. To me it created a fictional object of antagonism for post Christians to be mad at. I’ve since learned, that RHE hails from the heart of the Bible belt where Christians really do still think like this. I repent. The book makes a good point for these many people. It achieved a purpose. But whence comes the serious theological engagement, the exposure to the broader history of the way Christians have engaged the issue of interpreting Scripture?

    http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/blog/590jsh50aerc6c33mwm3ksy2tpxq7h

    • Posting while in Stop & Shop edit fail — the whole 2nd paragraph above should be in quotation marks.

    • Patrick Kyle says:

      I really didn’t like her book The book took on a mocking tone and was largely a straw man argument against patriarchy/patriarchal religion. The premise had real promise but in the end it came off as mocking and a caricature of different strains of interpretation.

  20. Dana Ames says:

    I haven’t read Rachel’s book but have enjoyed the excerpts I’ve read around the ‘net. She is a very good writer, and I think she is being as honest as she can be.

    I turned from my upbringing twice: the first time when I left the Catholic Church when I was in college, and the second time when I left Evangelicalism in my late 40s. The first was reflective of what many young people do, but it wasn’t a mindless pendulum swing by any means. The second was the product of a more mature (I hope) questioning, reflection and search. The outcome of both seriously affected my primary family relationships, the first with my parents and the second with my husband.

    In the midst of the second, I was very much attracted to the Progressive wing for a time, mostly because I still had holdover Catholic sensibilities about the importance of caring for the poor. and I was so tired of that being so grossly avoided by “bible-believing Christians” (with a few notable exceptions). I had also previously come, as the result of much bible study, to the conclusion that, if one is a Protestant, there is every bit as much in the bible and church history (perhaps even more) to make the case for women’s service in every area in the church as there is for what is known as the complementarian view. I think that all of this also reflected a developmental progression, the way it worked itself out in my life and because of my – up to that point – unwillingness to rock the boat, either internally within myself or externally in the churches I was in.

    But both journeys were primarily theologically driven… and I had more life experience behind the second one, and less idealism, as it ended up. Doesn’t have to do with age – more along Fowler’s stages, I think. I was seriously drawn to Anglicanism for a time; I had nothing but good experiences with Episcopalians my whole life, was very comfortable with the liturgy, and it seemed that if there was room for N.T. Wright, there was certainly room for me. But there were 2 reasons I didn’t go there: I would have wanted to be in a Continuing Anglican congregation, and that would have meant a 90 minute drive one-way for me; and, more importantly, by that time, I couldn’t get on board with the 39 Articles, because some of them denied things I had come to believe are actually necessary for the Church.

    I have come to believe that the only way to “change the world for Christ” is to deal with the line between good and evil that runs through my own heart. After all that questioning (which I am still doing, btw) and years of searching, I’m in a Church that I believe offers me the most help for doing that (among many other things), and here I will stay. Everyone is where they are for reasons.

    Dana

  21. daniel says:

    I did not have time to read through all the comments but from what I read here it sounds like the lot of you are confused at best.

    The church isn’t about you. Its not about what is politically correct. It is not about accepting groups that have a lifestyle that is obviously contrary to the scripture.

    If the current group whatever you call yourselves think they want authenticity they why pray tell are you Keeping Sunday as your day of worship. Why pray tell are you keeping Christmas and Easter instead of Gods’ prescribed Holy Days?

    Is the church no longer about Jesus Christ who is the embodiment of the word of God and the word of God is the embodiment of the truth or to use your words the authenticity of what our religion is all about?

    All I’m reading here are the whining s of a self indulgent generation that neither has nor understands the truth if you just can’t realize that the focus is not the group of people or the individual in the church but that the focus should be Jesus. The church is the body of Christ. It is not the other way around. Either the church preaches the truth of God or it is not part of the body.

    • Marc B. says:

      Well that’s just wonderful

    • So tell us where you stand, dan.

    • awful sweeping.

    • Eeyore says:

      Is the church no longer about Jesus Christ who is the embodiment of the word of God and the word of God is the embodiment of the truth or to use your words the authenticity of what our religion is all about?

      The Church is about that. The Church is ALSO about loving sinners, feeding the hungry, weeping with those who mourn, and living lives of loving sacrifice. If RHE and those she said represents call the Church out on that hypocrisy, is that their fault? And if it’s Truth you want, there are plenty of Bible verses about God’s attitude towards folks who harp on theology to the exclusion of love. Quotes available upon request.

    • Burro [Mule] says:

      “We have met the enemy and he is us”

      Us are the Church. There is no ‘Plan B’.

      • StuartB says:

        Well there was a Plan B, it was the Reformation…

        Or was it the Schism?

  22. OldProphet says:

    So, Millenials do not want to choose between science and religion or their “intellectual integrity”? Really? Yeah, that’s why the church in America is losing people and we bow live in a post\Christian nation. Flip a coin? Some decisions always come down to white or black. So the situation ethic is king? Feelings count? Even Mormons decide truth from a burning in their busom. Science is easy. Faith is hard. What is this, the Jesus Seminar? Louis C K was right, “the most wonderful inventions ever are being wasted on the crapiest generation ever”. His words,not mine

    • Great rant, OP, but I wish you’d engage in countering the points rather than just dismissing them.

      • OldProphet says:

        I tend not to look at individual points as more to the gestalt of the commentary. And that is that the author of this piece is that many young people today want to have their cake and eat it to. Theology is not like a restaurant menu. “I believe in the talking donkey but not the demonized pigs. God might heal the sick but can’t still a storm. It’s been a looooong time since I had a “question authority” bumper sticker but but that sticker reflects what this author is saying. Or better yet, “you can’t.tell me what to do!”. Intellectual authority? The pompous intellectuals on Mars Hill were full of so called intellectual integrity. I’m LOLing myself to death.

        • You are grossly oversimplifying things, OP.

        • I’m not at all convinced that the Greeks on Mars Hill were either pompous or intellectuals. Paul’s propositions are recounted in such a way that i can see why people would have reacted with bafflement, even svorn. They sound fine until he gets to thr part about the man raised from the dead. He has just about zero lead-in, not even something about Jewish monotheism.

          What he told people was likely pretty alien to them.

        • “Theology is not like a restaurant menu.”

          Um, yes it is. It totally is. Which is why there the World Christian Encyclopedia (2001) lists the number of denominations worldwide at 33,000.

        • I fell in love with Jesus OP. He is what I look at. His way is my model. I read the theology stuff but my eyes don’t stray from the one who first whispered in my ear I am not the one who has done this to you I Am the one who saved you and I LOVE you. This is what means more to me than anything. I almost died at fifteen. I only want for everyone to know Him but it doesn’t have to be my way. I have learned here over the last year I want it to be HIs way. If that takes 33.000 different approaches well I just need to keep trying to see inside this heart the same love He saw me with. I think you and I are on the same page. I have a brutally honest way of putting things. Some would call it raw. That’s what I am, my heart is exposed when the love of Christ invades me and I speak my heart. I am an old construction worker who barely made it through school because I worked 40 hour weeks going through high school. I marvel over the workings of the mind here. How magnificent we are made.

    • Eeyore says:

      Now who wants it simple…

  23. Damaris says:

    I notice a trend: prehistory lasted tens of thousands of years. The classical era could be counted as six centuries or so; the Middle Ages about the same. The Renaissance was arguably two centuries, the baroque a shorter period, then we pick up speed through the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment, the Romantic Era, the Victorians, Edwardians, and so on, getting briefer and briefer identifiable periods until now we have, every few years, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Y, — what next? Why do we divide ourselves up into tinier and more solipsistic units? I’m afraid the result will be people who have defined themselves into never acknowledging a broader human commonality. I’m glad on iMonk I don’t generally know people’s ages. Their ideas and experience can speak for themselves.

    • Well, i think you are looking at generations as if the names for them are equivalent to tjose of historical eras. Not sure yhey are thst at all. (Not meaning to sound harsh; just making an observation.)

      Besides, all those past eras have been named and defined by people who lived centuries afterward. I am betting that you could come up with better names and subdivisions for that long span of time that we refer to as the Middle Ages, for example.

      Labels like these are usualyy gross ovrrdimplificationd, but we havd to use some term or other, and sometimes the ones yhat stick aren’t the best, you know?

      • Oversimplifications

        I really should not be typing comments on my phone…

      • David L says:

        ovrrdimplificationd

        Got to hold that word in reserve for a special need. 🙂

  24. Trevis says:

    ‘So, Millenials do not want to choose between science and religion or their “intellectual integrity”? ‘

    While I’m neither old nor a prophet (and here’s no great matter), I also question just how much Millennials , or any other generation, are particularly concerned about science vs. religion AS A GROUP.

    While I this nexus is a concern for many of us (routinely expressed on this blog), I still suspect it’s topical mostly among those who, like RHE, have some degree of higher education. Because many of us (including myself), literally or figuratively major in science, we tend to project this as a major issue across society when it’s probably not, judging from the woeful state of scientific literacy., The rapid post-Christianization of America surely comes from other sources, such as changing social norms towards gays, etc., that RHE also emphasizes.

    I also have to wonder whether there’s the same degree of disaffection among black Millennials with respect to their own traditions, which overlaps evangelicalism in the broad sense while still having a very different historical trajectory. We don’t hear their voices nor those of their elders much at all on this blog. Comparing notes would be helpful.

    Finally, why do I find it so hard to spell “Millennium” or “Millennial”?

    • I think it might be a bigger lever than you think. No matter what the naysayers say about education, the fact is that a much higher percentage of Americans have a much higher level of education than ever before, and the idea that a talking snake plunged the world into misery 6,000 years ago is flat out absurd to anyone with even a highschool level education in some of the basic sciences. While ethical issues are probably the number one driver, the idea that a person has to check their brain at the door to join a club is significant too.

      • Robert F says:

        At the same time, the leadership for the anti-GMO and anti-vaccination campaigns is composed almost entirely of people with a good amount of higher education, most of them young, despite the fact that consensus in the scientific community strongly favors the use of both GMOs and vaccinations, just as it strongly insists on the reality of human produced global climate change.

    • David L says:

      I also question just how much Millennials , or any other generation, are particularly concerned about science vs. religion AS A GROUP.

      They may not care. Until they run into the buzz saw. My children are now 23 and 35. In late middle school and early high school our church started a program of YEC indoctrination for the kids. And it was done without much fanfare. If you were not heavy into the youth ministry planning or teaching you were not told about it. After a while it all blew up when some of the kids who were a bit more on the learning side of things started asking questions. And others started coming home with comments about Ken Ham and AIG. I personally know of several kids and an adult who were asked to stop attending class after asking too many hard questions about the AIG science. And not from the same family. As those of us who were not YEC pushed back a bit we got hit hard. You can’t be a Christian if …. became a common theme about all kinds of things. “We must defend the faith/bible/truth/whatever…” siege mentality started to emerge. My family and many others decided to leave as it got to the point where we were basically under attack unless we lied about what we believed. And that’s no way to attend a church.

      My point is that while the youth of 10 years ago were not thinking of this a lot own their own, many churches over the last 15 years have forced the discussion.

      You’re a millennial with a degree in engineering and visit a church and see several Sunday school or small groups about YEC and how to get creationism back in the schools how long do you stick around?

      If anyone is still reading here. I missed the post when it came out. 🙁

  25. OldProphet says:

    I spell everything badly. Punctuation isn’t much better. A college graduate too! It’s very sad.

  26. Mike H says:

    We want to talk about the tough stuff – biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice – but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers.”

    Amongst critics, I think the view is that she doesn’t REALLY mean this. (Not my view).

    Those skeptical of her (or at least those that really despise her and those that she represents) probably think that the tough stuff DOES in fact have predetermined conclusions and simplistic (or at least black and white) answers to the tough stuff. That’s what the faith is and what the Bible provides after all – it’s not up for negotiation. From this point of view, it’s not that RHE wants answers. It’s that she HAS the clear biblical teaching on “x” and doesn’t like it. So the perception is that she (and those she represents) reject it, try to twist the faith into something they like, and claim to be hurt by the church (again not my view at all – it’s how I think she’s viewed).

    Anyways, maybe there’s some truth to that – everybody has their blind spots. But there’s also caricature and defense mechanisms. It’s condescending, oversimplified, tragic, and makes productive communication and community nearly impossible. I really feel for people who recognize that they’re perceived that way, want to hang onto faith in Christ and have nowhere to go

    • Eeyore says:

      Those skeptical of her… probably think that the tough stuff DOES in fact have predetermined conclusions and simplistic (or at least black and white) answers to the tough stuff. That’s what the faith is and what the Bible provides after all – it’s not up for negotiation.

      Fixed that for ya.

      I had to have that mindset dealt with before anything remotely like what RHE is saying could get through. And believe me, we TRs can be a tough nut to crack, even if we acknowledge the cracks in the system like I did.

  27. Robert F says:

    I think it’s important for Millennials to know that many of us Baby Boomers are cases of arrested development: we never made it past adolescence. But maybe you already know that….

  28. OldProphet says:

    Well, it’s a been quite a fun chin wag with you mates today but its In-an-Out Burger Friday! Bring on the Double-Doubles! Oh yeah! Whoo-Ah!!!

  29. Melissatheragamuffin says:

    I can’t stand RHE. I think she is a false prophet. She personifies the incredible arrogance of the so-called millenials thinking that they can come to God with a list of demands, “This is how you must change if you want me to follow you,” all the while claiming they want a “truer” Christianity. What they want is to recreate God in their own image.

    • @Melissatheragamuffin: “What they want is to recreate God in their own image.”

      My first thought exactly.

    • I said in an earlier post that I believed this was the perception of her.

      But “False prophet”? Wow. That presumption is really tragic and wrong IMO, but it explains a lot as to why her critics don’t find it necessary to even listen to her. What specifically about the excerpt in this post (or elsewhere) reeks of false prophet?

  30. OldProphet says:

    At least I’m not the only one who sees thru RHE’s foolish and senseless rhetoric.

    • Everything becomes testimony to where we are at. We are not destined to stay where we are. Just like the hymns nobody wants anymore those people were looking and seeing something and wrote and dared and moved. I doubt they stayed where they were like say the rolling stones….lol. Much better to testify in such a way that is encouraging. Did you know that you have encouraged me. I’m not talking about you got this right or wrong stuff. You………being……..encourages me. Now my favorite hymn is In Christ Alone…..use to be Amazing Grace which was penned by a man wanting to share it at a prayer meeting that night. A very young man penned Here is Love vast as the ocean…..loving kindness like a flood when the Prince of Peace our ransom shed for us His precious blood while sitting on the shores of Great Britain. You see much more is it encouraging to tell what is a favorite then to tell what drives us nuts. This RHE I don’t even know or have I followed. I guess I’m out of touch that way. This person is like us and she is looking what she sees is subject to change when we get there. I’ll be looking for you. Who knows maybe here So Cal trucks have no rust and I might just go there some day and get one.