April 14, 2014

IRD SYMPOSIUM: The Church and the Millennials

The Greek word for “Symposium” originally meant to gather and drink together. Unfortunately, that is not what we have been doing the past two weeks here at the IRD. We have, however,  managed to bring together some of the best and brightest millennial Christians to talk about what the Church and her teachings on sex mean to their generation. All of their contributions can be found here.

IRD President Mark Tooley introduced the Symposium asking “Should the Church Pander to Millennials?

20140331-112346.jpg“Should The Church cater/pander to the reputed majority views of young people, i.e. the much mythologized Millennials, in pursuit of their allegiance? There’re ongoing insistent demands from liberal church voices that Christianity, especially the Evangelical world, will crumble unless key teachings at odds with purported Millennial preferences are amended or abandoned.”

Brian Miller  wonders what Liberalized Christianity has to offer his generation in “Part 1: What does Liberal Christianity Offer Millennials?

a-visit-to-the-old-soldier“What do liberal Christians think these churches have to offer millennials? Social Justice? The Democratic Party offers that. Perhaps lessons in responsible treatment of the Environment? We are supplied a constant dose from Chipotle and Starbucks. Maybe it is the wonderful good news of progress and equality? Alas, we have had that rammed down our throats by professors and politicians of all stripes and ideologies.”

Chelsen Vicari, IRD’s Evangelical Program Director, is basically the anti-Rachel Held Evans. She recounts her own struggle with the influence of the emergent church in “Part 2: Tony Jones and Me.”

tony-jones-570x374“Dear, Mr. Jones: It took some spiritual mentoring and much prayer, but I finally realized I didn’t need, nor could ever, appeal to a broken world and still follow Jesus.  So I’ll stick to orthodoxy, not your Theoblogy. Still, I pray you too come to place of recognizing God’s sovereign truth motivated by love above any innate desire for adoration or affirmation.”

Nathaniel Torrey is both a millennial and a devout Eastern Orthodox. Hear him explain why in “Part 3: Matter Matters.

incarnation 10-59“Those are my reasons World Vision and the ongoing battle in many American denominations over same sex marriage are not going to affect my decision to stay put. The traditional worship in the Orthodox Church, reflective of God’s unchanging will for us and of embodied nature, is the reason I came to her in the first place and it will be the reason I stay.”

John Goerke writes a powerful confessional piece in “Part 4: Sex and Salvation.

“The Church in her wisdom looks at sexuality and calls it up to higher things. We can settle to squirm like animals in mud or foam like dogs in heat, but we are not mere material. Contemplation of the Life of the Trinity, which Mr. Jones rightly asserts as important, calls up everything into that life. Sex becomes holy and it is placed in right relation to the rest of creation. Monogamy is this elevation, marriage is its complete expression. Through the ministry of the Church I learned this truth.”

Marya Skotte isn’t worried about the future of Conservatism or Evangelicalism. As a student at Azusa Pacific University, she explains the importance of the Church’s teaching in “Part 5: Why Churches that Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Attract Young College Students Like Me.

2130marchformar_00000001278“It is the Biblical duty of the Evangelical Church to love, care for, and cry with our brothers and sisters, regardless of their sexual orientation. While we deeply love our homosexual neighbors, friends, and family, we also stand firm in our Biblical convictions. Young Evangelicals are aware that our homosexual brothers and sisters share some of the same struggles, successes, and sins that we face. We share in humanity, and so we are committed to demonstrating love.”

Alex Griswold is living proof that organizations like IRD are not staffed by gray-headed old men. He does, however, think he lives in a “warped and crooked generation.” He explains why there is hope even for us in “Part 6: A Warped and Crooked Generation.

millennials-wordle“As Moses and Paul make clear, there’s nothing unique about millennials. There was nothing socially liberal or postmodern about Jesus’ generation or the ancient Israelites, yet every generation is “warped and crooked,” and every generation carries sin and worldliness displeasing to God. Yes, millennials often have their own unique failings, but so did every other generation before them, all the way back to the Original Sin.”

Bart Gingerich is a millennial who loves orthodoxy so much, he went to Seminary to study it. Read his prognosis in “Part 7: Recognizing the Real and Good.

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_(1568)_The_Blind_Leading_the_Blind“When the Genesis narrative, Jesus Christ’s teaching in Mark 10 and Matthew 19, and St. Paul’s epistles espouse marriage as a monogamous permanent heterosexual union, I am immediately attracted to submit to the Scripture’s teaching and the Church’s broad traditional interpretation of those texts. God has mandated that which is already within nature to function in a certain way? Excellent. Death take me before I surrender to falsehood. My sinful libido consistently plots rebellion, but that is a problem of the will, not of the nature per se.”

John Lomperis is the same age as Rachel Held Evans (which is older than you think). He shows us he doesn’t have much else in common with her in “Part 8: How NOT to Reach Millennials.

Empty Pews“On a larger scale, whenever denominations have moved to embrace interfaith universalism, sexual liberation, offering-plate-funded lefty partisan politics, and otherwise sought to define themselves as “Not Like Those Bad Conservative Christians,” the result has been a dramatic collapse of membership.  There is no rush of flattered unchurched Millennials joining such churches out of appreciation for being pandered to.  While much of the membership loss is due to orthodox defections, much is also driven by secularized versions of Christianity generally lacking much power to attract and maintain people.”

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