Thursday, April 14, 2005

Article - Mohler, Soul Searching

Related to my previous post about OMG...

A friend sent me a link to an article by Al Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Seminary) about Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton.

Here are some snippets from the article, including Mohler's comments as well as direct quotes from the book. I've also added my own commentary here:
- American teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their religious beliefs, and most are virtually unable to offer any serious theological understanding. is apparent that most religiously affiliated U.S. teens are not particularly interested in espousing and upholding the beliefs of their faith traditions, or that their communities of faith are failing in attempts to educate their youth, or both."
This is surprsing to me. The teenagers that I talk to in our faith community are not inarticulate at all about their beliefs. Quite the opposite. They will communicate their beliefs and understanding in specific, well thought out terms. I keep saying it, GCC is not like any other place.

- The researchers discovered that for many of these teens, the interview itself was the first time they had ever discussed a theological question with an adult.
This is serious. If we have a generation of youthworkers and youth pastors that are not engaging students in dialogue about their faith and the relevance it has to life, that is a huge problem. Are we just eating pizza and taking them to the roller rink instead? Jesus engaged His disciples in dialogue, almost constantly, about the mission and what they thought about God and what it meant for them.

- We must now look at the United States of America as missiologists once viewed nations that had never heard the gospel. Indeed, our missiological challenge may be even greater than the confrontation with paganism, for we face a succession of generations who have transformed Christianity into something that bears no resemblance to the faith revealed in the Bible. The faith "once delivered to the saints" is no longer even known, not only by American teenagers, but by most of their parents. Millions of Americans believe they are Christians, simply because they have some historic tie to a Christian denomination or identity. We now face the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity.
Remind you of a recent, great book with Barbarian in the title?
"...yet christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists. Those who choose to follow Jesus become participants in an insurrection. To claim we believe is simply not enough. The call of Jesus is one that demands action. Jesus began His public ministry with a simple invitation: 'Come, follow me.' His closing instructions to His disciples can be summarized in one word, 'Go!' A quick survey of the modern church would lead you to believe His invitation was 'Come, and listen,' and His closing mandate would be summarized in the one word 'No!' The tribe of Jesus, above all people, should right carry the banner, 'Forward.'"

One more thing in closing. We should be engaging our students about 'theology.' But let's be clear - discussing theology for the sake of theology is a mistake. From Perspectives, theology must have the context of mission wrapped around it.

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