opinionated old men or youth?

Speaking as a pastor again, here is something I am thinking about: the church. Duh! Yes, I’m still reading Jack Good’s book, The Dishonest Church. But aside from that, I continue to think about the church with love and concern. In an earlier blog, I referred to my teenagers and the younger generation in general. How will they compose the church? Where’s their place? Are we presenting a Jesus that the youth will be curious about? My oldest son, who lives in another city: will he find a church he feels accepted in, and one that he will be attracted to? These are real questions for me. I enjoyed teaching on Sunday because there was lots of feedback and discussion. Even the young people there were engaged because I wasn’t dominating, mumbling alone at the front. It was interesting because of the conversation that was taking place in the community. Martin Luther, way back in the 1600s, said this:

“I have great hope… that as Christ, when rejected by the Jews, went over to the Gentiles, so this true theology, rejected by opinionated old men, will pass over to the younger generation” (Roland Bainton, Here I Stand. A Life of Martin Luther, p. 66).
I don’t want to be an opinionated old man among opinionated old people. Where’s the Christ that the younger generation will receive?

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  • Fred

    Let me address the question: How will they compose the church?

    How about: How DO THEY compose the church?

  • Fred

    Let me address the question: How will they compose the church?

    How about: How DO THEY compose the church?

    And how do you mumble and dominate at the same time?

  • Fred

    Is there any way to edit or delete a comment?

  • yes, just ask me to

  • Jeff Roach

    The Christ that the younger generation will receive is the credible one, the one that their information-saturated internet brains can believe in. In my opinion, they will find a mythological Jesus – if at all – since there is no evidence to support an historical one and they/we are a generation that – strange as it may seem to the opinionated older generation – requires evidence.

    And they will discover Jesus online, not in a church.

  • Fred

    What do you mean there is NO EVIDENCE to support a historical Jesus? Are you really saying that you reject the evidence that exists? Otherwise you seem to imply that things like the Bible don’t really exist except in our imaginations…or something…

  • John

    The Jesus of the internet!

    Ahhhh – the internet – an incredible source of truth and reliable information!

  • Jeff Roach

    The church – an incredible source of truth and reliable information!

  • John

    apple / orange

  • Nato

    The Christ of the younger generation – myth or historical – will sidestep self-sustaining debates in which existential angst and superiority complexes arise. The Church will be accepted or dismissed based on tangible evidence – their actions – and the compassion towards the oppressed, the widows and orphans, and their desire to put People! before ideals. The Church will have to be ‘in this world’ and lend its voice ‘for this world’. We’re a knowledgeable generation, no longer capable of unreflectively accepting the philosophies of our forefathers. We’ll create our own, possibly to our own detriment, but ultimately we’ll respect only those which are reputable and impact for the greater good. Actions are louder than words.

  • Jeff Roach

    I am saying there is no evidence to support the Jesus of the Bible, yes. The issue isn’t if he existed or not, but whether the account of him in the Bible is valid and I don’t believe it is.

    If, as others have pointed out, 95% of the Bible has been copied from sources and other cultures and societies that pre-date the Bible, believing in this Jesus is pretty much impossible for me. I have read some historians who go so far as to claim that if the Bible is seen as history, it is a historical novel, not an historical account of facts and people.

    Try reading some of the books I and others have recommended in this blog such as The Pagan Christ, The End of Faith, and The Laughing Jesus and see if your evidence can dispute the claims they make.

  • kari

    Excellent words – “People! before ideals”…”Actions are louder than words”.
    Thanks for your insight!
    I was hoping for a few younger voices on this LARGE question.
    I noticed you used the word “Church” where David’s question used the word “Christ”.

    I always appreciate your comments. RV should still have a video/book series called “Youth Alpha”. It deals with the Historical Jesus. A bit slow, but worth the time spent.

  • Fred

    Nato–quite the erudite comment. I liked it!

  • John

    Nato….simlicity seems to rise to surface! We tend to complicate the “church” or “Christ” to the point we move to a position of confusion. Some call it the ability to search for truth – but the simplicity is what you said: The Church will be accepted or dismissed based on tangible evidence – their actions – and the compassion towards the oppressed, the widows and orphans, and their desire to put People! before ideals. The Church will have to be ‘in this world’ and lend its voice ‘for this world’.

    The world doesnt give a flying cats *** about the depth of our knowledge we can have – it comes down to coming out of our proverbial shells of religion and take hold of the pure religion of James:

    “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

    God will hold us to account with this!!

    Sometimes we – as the church – need to get off our ass and just do it! It is the churches responsibility to respond to the need in this world! Doing nothing is no longer an option!

  • silverfoot


    sometimes it seems like the Institution of ‘The Church’ (whatever that means) has become so far distanced from what Christ himself said. love, faith, compassion for your fellow man – these are ideals i can get behind. and John calls for people to matter more than ideals, but sometimes it seems the ideals get lost behind the dogma…

    David – i love that you invoke Luther, here. himself, the staunchest of Catholics, but that heartweary and convinced that his Church was not going to save him. he was never trying to tear down the Catholic Church, just attempting to reform what he saw as very real abuses of authority, and lapses in morality. those who came after him took his teachings in very different directions than he himself intended, and in that way, i think he bears a certain resemblance to Jesus.

    but… i need to ask about terminology, here. what do we mean when we say The Church? to which church/faith/path are we referring? there is talk of the Canadian church VS the American Church – what are we really talking about here? people seem to be drawing lines in the sand between Us and Them, and i wonder who really occupies those camps – i’m *not* trying to make this confrontational. just asking for a little clarification…

  • Silverfoot: Thanks for your response! I also appreciate your explanation of the origins of your nickname. Cool! I don’t feel you’re trying to be controversial, but just trying to understand definitions, which I think is important. I think the “church”, without being too simplistic, is usually understood two ways:
    1. invisibly: the invisible but real fellowship of “Christians” (we’ll not get into what that means at this point) around the world from all time.
    2. real: the tangible, visible fellowship of “Christians” when they gather together for worship, preaching, fellowship, and ministry.
    I think that’s what we mean, and that encompasses all denominations and people with a wide variety of dogmas. It includes American and Canadian “church”, even though they do hold unique differences.
    Hope that clarifies at least a little.

  • silverfoot

    fair enough.

    the invisible fellowship makes perfect sense to me. i don’t know that you need to worry about explaining that – i think most people on a spiritual path are connected in that way, regardless of their differences.

    typically, when i use ‘The Church’ i mean the Vatican; else, i tend to specify ‘The Protestants’ (Lutheran or Puritan), on account of being a history geek primarily obsessed with the early modern period (c. 1450-1800s). if i’m talking about the present, i tend to add the terms’evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist.’

    ugh, i sound like a semantic weenie, but i like to know the field; making assumptions about people’s terms of reference can turn things ugly really fast.