Here is a short post on CNN by Rachel Held Evans. I suggest reading it before you continue reading my post below.
Okay, I assume you read her piece. Here is one thought that concerns me. As she is the apparent spokesperson for “millennials”, I find it interesting that the same group that sees Christianity as “old-fashioned” is the same group that is attracted to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. She argues against evangelical Christianity because it is “too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
Later, she writes, “Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.”
Then, she follows it up by writing, “What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.”
This is a case in which she wants it both ways. She complains that evangelical Christianity is old-fashioned. How is it old-fashioned? Context informs us that it is old-fashioned in its hostility to LGBT people. It is old-fashioned in its substance of doctrinal teaching.
Then, she says she and others are drawn to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Why are they drawn to these? They are drawn to these because of their “ancient forms of liturgy.” She follows that up by saying that the change in style is not important.
Yet, she just wrote that she and others are increasingly drawn to those churches because of their old-fashioned, ancient styles, or forms of liturgy. Yes, it is important to her. She wants the ancient style but not the ancient faith that goes with it. However, the ancient faith she earlier proclaimed as “too exclusive” or “old-fashioned” is the same one that gave us those ancient forms of liturgy.
I guess I would have a few questions for her and for others who consider the same things.
1. Do you really want to be challenged to live a life of holiness? Her article makes it appear as if the only ones who need to change are the ones other than “millennials.” Who are they? The old-fashioned, too exclusive evangelical Christians. She doesn’t make it seem like LGBT people need to crucify their old self.
2. She makes a claim that young adults perceive evangelical Christianity as too political and yet as unconcerned with social justice. But isn’t social justice a political issue? Isn’t the better question about the nature of politics or the definition of social justice?
3. What does it mean that she wants to end the culture wars? Which wars?
4. Why must the church change to fit your needs? I look at Titus 2 and see Paul instructing the young men to self-control under the tutelage of older men. How do young adults learn self-control if they constantly ask the church to change to fit their needs?
5. Anthony Bradley has a thoughtful response to Evan’s article. Unfortunately, the kind of church she envisions is available and it is not doing well.
Here is my final thought. She claims that the evangelical church is too political. I suggest that it is not political enough. It is not political enough because it has embraced individualism and has abandoned its strong and vibrant history with the traditional natural law theory.