Rant on Youthful Christianity

I have a feeling that if Christianity in America ever decides to stop patterning itself after the youth it generally spends most of its time either converting or trying to keep converted, things might go a little smoother for it. We might have quiet virtue and devotion, instead of having to constantly be in ‘FIRE! PASSION! RUNNING! CHASING! DANCING! YOUTHFUL ENERGY! MORE! MORE! MORE!’ Perhaps we’d have less ‘Acquire the Fire’, and fewer corresponding burnouts because of people being unable to maintain such a level of ENERGY for very long. Perhaps, just perhaps, we might have more focus on doing the will of God in the world and living in faith, instead of having to pursue teenage-esque romance under the guise of A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS, and being burned out when we simply get tired of trying to be teenagers.

Believe it or not, Christianity is not defined by the traits of horny teenagers.

No, this isn’t a false dichotomy, and yes, I know we are told not to despise our youth.

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11 thoughts on “Rant on Youthful Christianity

  1. Fariba July 15, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    Emotional Christianity is the result of this constant desire to “win” hormonal teenagers.But emotional Christianity is not just annoying but empty. That’s why I’m always so suspicious of retreats. People leave feeling elated but that’s no indication of conversion. What happens when the feeling goes away?

    Liked by 3 people

    • whitefrozen July 15, 2015 / 6:20 pm

      There’s the rub – how much time and effort is spent trying to capture/retain that elated feeling?

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  2. Jamie Carter July 15, 2015 / 7:31 pm

    You can have my last church … 3/4 of its people were 65 years or older. It was not smoother. Problems lie in wait when we end up in either extreme. The church benefits from the wisdom of its elders and the energy of its youth. It does not do well when its elders tell the youth no or the youth try to run the show. Problem is that acheiving balance requires compromise which might as well be a four letter word in christian vocabulary.

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    • whitefrozen July 15, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      Thanks for the comment! There are indeed problems in extremes on any issue, and this is no exception.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No Man's Land July 15, 2015 / 9:44 pm

    Many modernist Christians think “being happy” and “being on fire” are ends themselves rather than consequences of being oriented toward the Good as such. Alas, ultimate goods give way to immediate goods.

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  4. J. Matthan Brown July 17, 2015 / 8:18 am

    Completely understand the frustration – this is one of a very long list of reasons I became Catholic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • whitefrozen July 17, 2015 / 8:20 am

      I’m not Catholic myself, but at this point evangelicalism needs to start learning from the Catholic church, past adopting words like ‘catholic’ (lower case ‘c’).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Andrew July 17, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    The ‘on fire for Christ’ language has a pedigree that predates the evangelical preoccupation with youthful Christianity. It was, and as far as I know remains, in common usage amongst fundamentalists. Manifests in ‘soul winning’, long prayer sessions, and a general earnestness that most people just finding annoying.

    Whatever form it comes in, the theology behind it, such that it is, pays scant attention to fact that some people just aren’t like that. Young or not. And if this is what is seen to count as spiritual formation, the absence of it is rather dispiriting.

    As aside (since I’m definitely not looking at twitter for a while), the last couple of days I’ve also had a real notion to read John Owen. Last Christmas BoT were offering his works at half price. Thought about buying them but didn’t. Alas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • whitefrozen July 17, 2015 / 5:33 pm

      The language of ‘on fire’ definitely isn’t exclusive to youthful Christianity – it goes back to Scripture, the early church, etc. Very different things are meant by it, however. As I said in the post, it’s not a dichotomy. The energy of youth is a really, really good thing. If only we all had it! The problem is that, like you said, when it becomes the (often only) indicator of spiritual growth and formation.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cal July 20, 2015 / 5:42 pm

    It seems the criticisms are either from the ‘youthful’ or the ‘elderly’: either people are too stuck in their ways, unable to push through boundaries and take a leap of faith into new practices and arenas, or people are too energetic, frantic, emotional etc etc.

    Jamie is right: we shouldn’t be teenagers, but we shouldn’t be crotchety and stiff-necked either.

    It’s funny: we have ‘counter-culture’ which plays out of angsty American teenagerdom and we have ‘counter-culture’ which plays out of grumpy, bitter ‘you-damn-kids’ thinking. Both are not only the opposite of ‘counter-culture’ but are pre-made scripts for Americans.

    We not only need the energy of the young and the wisdom of the older, but we need to encourage the old to press on, and the young to get out of themselves and see a bigger picture. Or maybe we need to listen to the potential wisdom of the young, and entrust ourselves to the ‘oldman strength’ of the elderly. Either way, neither pattern really fits how things go in this country.

    cal

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