May 26, 2015

Millennials and Warped Conceptions of Christ

As a Baptist, I believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He rose from death, and that everything the Bible says is true. My preference for decentralized government that enforces traditional morality renders me a social conservative.

Also, I’m in my late twenties. That means I’m a “millennial.”

I know what you’re thinking. What’s it like to be a freak?

Honestly? I feel like an old man in my own generation. I find myself shaking my head at the beliefs and behavior of young people I don’t identify with, and longing for the good ol’ days when sound doctrine and morals ruled the culture-days which my better judgment tells me never existed.

The clash between my convictions and those of the culture is most apparent on social issues. If people like Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe are to be believed, the mere fact that I believe homosexuality to be immoral makes me a bigot.

I am not surprised that someone outside the faith perceives me in a negative light. However, such sentiments are no longer confined to the unchurched world.

For example, prior the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I reached out to an old classmate, urging prayers for the Justices, that they would make the right decision, as well as for homosexuals, that they would come to know the love of God.

She responded by saying, “Jesus loves everyone,” before calling me hateful and de-friending me on Facebook.

In grad school, I encountered other spiritual heartaches. While at Regent University, I had a classmate who described herself as radically pro-life. She also said she drove women to get abortions. When asked about this, she said that God told her to love people, not to judge them.

To say that I was shocked that a self-described, pro-life Christian helped abort children is an understatement.

As disturbing as these two examples are, given that they came from believers, they are iconic of the millennial generation’s fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus. They seem to think Jesus’s command to “love” is something they are free to interpret. For them, the concept of love and judgement are mutually exclusive; we must affirm or accommodate evil in order to be loving.

However, scripture shows us that this is not what Jesus meant. Jesus judged the Pharisees as hypocrites, blind guides and broods of vipers (Matt 23). In the opening chapters of the book of Romans, Christ uses Paul to condemn all of mankind for violating his standards of conduct, as revealed in his law (Romans 3:23). In John 10:30 Christ claimed to be the God of the Old Testament. That means all of God’s dialogue and actions were said and performed by Christ. God the Father judged people on a regular basis, sometimes fatally, and yet God is love (I John 4:7-8). Apparently, the mind of God does not see a conflict between love and judgement.

Finally, Christ said that man’s primary duty was to love him and that this was demonstrated by obeying to his commandments (Matt 22:36-38, John 14:15, 23) It is therefore impossible to say that “love” necessitates the affirmation or accommodating of evil.

It is disheartening to see the Body of Christ fall prey to such an elementary mistake that has such lethal consequences for life and marriage. Such basic blunders on the part of the Church seem to validate the observation of New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, whose book Bad Religion: How we Became a Nation of Heretics, warned that the chief problem with the nation “isn’t too much religion, or too little of it. It’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of destructive pseudo-Christianities [sic] in its pace.”

Until this is fixed, we can expect these catastrophic mistakes to continue, thus further damaging our ability to fulfil our duty to proclaim God’s wisdom “to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:10 NASB).


13 Responses to Millennials and Warped Conceptions of Christ

  1. Chris says:

    You are not a “freak” or an “old man,” you’re able to see beyond the now and into the eternal, which is what being a Christian is all about. Don’t get upset about being de-Friended on Facebook, most conservatives have that experience, and it’s always our “tolerant” and “inclusive” liberal friends who do the de-Friending. It’s easy to learn what Jesus is really like, just read the New Testament, but most contemporary people (including “Christians in name only”) don’t do that, they prefer the fictional Jesus in their own heads.

  2. Dan says:

    In other words “God is love, but love is not God.”

    • Mark Brooks says:

      That’s good. Or:

      “Love is not sentimentality.”

      Because the fundamental problem is that many people don’t understand the difference between love, which seeks to do right, and sentimentality, which is concerned only with how something makes the sentimentalist feel.

      Sentimentality is nowhere mentioned among God’s divine attributes.

      • Zachary G. Taylor says:

        Maybe not sentimentality but as exodus 34:6 says Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

  3. M Didaskalos says:

    “Progressive” denominations (increasingly moribund as they are) have been spearheading the battle against the Bible for decades. Even though many millennials don’t bother actually darkening the door of an ersatz-Christian church that’s preaching only the “gospel” of Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood, and the Democratic Party, they’re still beguiled by the do-it-yourself theology it and the world keep pumping out incessantly. Life’s your oyster when you’re the sole arbiter of who’s God, what’s sin, and who gets into heaven.

    Al Mohler writes: “. . .As J. Gresham Machen rightly observed almost a century ago, we do not really face two rival versions of Christianity. We face Christianity on the one hand and, on the other hand, some other religion that selectively uses Christian words, but is not Christianity.”

    John MacArthur adds: “Notice what we are supposed to be fighting for. It is not anything petty, personal, mundane, or ego related. It’s not mere wrangling between competing ideologies. It’s not a campaign to refine someone’s religious creed or win denominational bragging rights. It’s not a battle of wits, or a game of any kind.

    “What we are called to defend is no less than the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.’ He’s [Jude’s] talking about a serious struggle to safeguard the heart and soul of the truth itself and unleash that truth against the powers of darkness. Compromised truth has no hope of rescuing the eternal souls of men and women who have been unwittingly ensnared by the trap of devilish deception.”

    http://www.ligonier.org/blog/cost-compromise/ — “The Cost of Compromise”

  4. Darrell Garrett says:

    Excellent Bryan!

  5. Eva says:

    Amen well said those of us who read our word daily are not deceived by today’s culture. So glad we have Gods word to help us.

  6. Randy Greene says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Bryan – I love the heart with which you write. I too am a Millennial Christian, although I probably fall more to the progressive side of the faith than you do.

    The point you make about embracing both love AND judgment is an important one for us to remember. It’s unfortunate that we so often succeed at one and fail at the other – and we Christians certainly fall on both sides at times.

    I myself am imperfect and I know that I often err, but I hope that, when I do fail, I fail on the side of love.

  7. Zachary G. Taylor says:

    My question is this why is this directed at those who practice love over judgment Romans 1:28-32 suggests that those who do not practice love and mercy shall be treated the same. Christ ate with the sinners and harlots he spoke with them and drank with them Luke 7:33-35 spoke against judgment of anyone by anyone who is not without sin Mathew 7:1-5. He knew that their is more to love than action as many sin to cover hurt and those that make mistakes are givin a second try, third try, four try, and so on John 8:1-11. In Luke 10:25-37 he reiterates that we should love and respect everyone who needs our help including sinners. As a Christian we cant walk around going to only Christian events, only Christian schools and only Christian retreats (not that these events are bad in anyway) but we are called to go and teach people Matthew 5:13-16. He does want us to to try and clearly states that you have to obey the law still Mathew 5:17-20. The thing we have to remember as Christians is we follow and listen the things Christ taught. As they artical points out in the 12 paragraph Jesus judges not us. James 4:11-12 also tells us not to judge our brothers but leave it to Christ. I conclude with the fact that this is my opinion, I hope I have not offended anyone only to offer some food for thought.
    He said:

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    • Mark Brooks says:

      You are misrepresenting your sources. For instance, here is what James 4:11-12 says:

      “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”

      This regards evil-speaking, not discernment. In other words, don’t bear false witness against your fellow Christians. In the context of this article, the evil speakers are the so-called Millennial Christians who accuse their Bible-believing brethren of bigotry and intolerance. That is evil-speaking. Also, it concerns Christians, not people who are not Christians. So discerning who is, and is not, a Christian comes into play.

      Reading scripture teleologically, or “proof-texting”, won’t get you very far. I encourage you to read the scriptures plainly and in light of each other. You will be unlikely to go wrong in such a case, though it may require that you be willing to change your mind about some of your existing beliefs.

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