Interview on Young Evangelicals in The Christian Post

Interview on Young Evangelicals in The Christian Post June 27, 2012
Me making some point or another at Pastorum.

While I was in Chicago earlier this month speaking at the Pastorum conference, I was interviewed by The Christian Post on my take on young Evangelicals and how they are processing their faith. (“Young Evangelicals” is simply commonly used short hand for recurring generational restlessness within Evangelicalism. It is not to imply that one need be “young” to feel this way.)

The interviewer did a good job of capturing some of the tenor of what I was trying to convey, although I feel I come across more negative and denunciatory than it felt over a pint or two at the hotel bar while watching baseball highlights. As with all interviews, decisions need to be made and some nuances were lost.

Still, the main point holds, and it is as old as the hills. There are unofficial yet powerful gatekeepers whose job it is to be ever vigilant about what passes in and out of the movement they feel charged to protect. This protective posture does not encourage the kind of hermeneutical and theological self-reflection that some others–professors, pastors, students, lay people–feel is necessary to bring to the table, on issues like: inerrancy, Canaanite genocide, homosexuality, date and authorship of biblical books, evolution, historicity of the exodus and conquest of Canaan. etc. The list is long and hardly needs elaboration for those involved in the struggle.

In case you are not familiar with it, I recommend to you the book I mentioned in the interview by theologian John Franke, Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth, which lays out relentlessly but also accessibly the diverse theology of Scripture and of the people of God throughout history and today–which is not good news if one is trying to protect a theological system.



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  • I agree. Roger Olson talked about this at the Hayward lectures a few years back, using the term “post-conservative evangelical”. The resulting book is “Reformed and Always Reforming”. You can also watch the lectures on YouTube, just search 2005 Hayward Lectures.

    • peteenns

      Thanks for the link!

  • Steve Aldridge

    I didn’t get “negative” as much as I got, this is serious. I grew up in a fundamentalist church and have slowing worked my way out, but I don’t want to leave evangelicalism. In seminary I learned the biblical languages and that’s want convinced me to modify my understand of the OT theology. Sadly, most seminary Pastoral programs no longer required Hebrew and Greek. I was told by an administrator that the English track beings in more students to “pay the bills.” I find myself left out of evangelical theology discussions because few pastors have mastered the languages. So, they quote the gatekeepers, who have PhDs is history or something and my little masters degree is stomped on. We need to have everyone master the languages, if they they are presuming to teach the Scriptures. There is too big a difference between Hebrew and English. “Translator are Traitors.”

  • Bev Mitchell

    Danny Z,
    Thanks for this link. I particularly liked part 3 on open theism. A very good treatment by someone who says, as far as I know, that he is not OT.

  • Ryan

    I wonder if “homosexuality” belongs comfortably on the list of issues that can be left on the “self-examination backburner”. Please read carefully why I say this . . . in my experience, this is an issue that radically alters real decisions that real people have to take. There is a distinct bifurcation of outcomes based on the theology (for some), with potentially a great deal of pain involved, which is why I find it an interesting conundrum.

    While the subject Canaanite genocide may make someone feel distinctly uncomfortable and conflicted, I wonder if it has the same bearing on day to day living? Is it fair to be ambivalent about something that could alter someone’s life so dramatically?

    This is a slight tangent to whether it should be a “gatekeeper” issue to Evangelicalism, or whether there should be gatekeepers at all. Of course, it’s hard to deny people the right to defend their positions cogently, even vociferously, as long as done in love.

  • Hi – I have been reading your blog since I stumbled on it thanks to a friend’s Facebook link to one of your posts. I’m really enjoying what I’m reading. You mentioned something in passing in this post that I need to learn more about. My son, currently an atheist, told me one day that there’s no evidence for the exodus and that idea shook me up. Although I am learning to change my expectations of the Bible, I am struggling with this possibility. The exodus seems very central. But I take it this is not news to you as it was to me. Can you point me to something I can read about this?