Those of you who are concerned with the younger generation of evangelicals would do well to check this out: In the winter 2008 issue of The City, a magazine published by Houston Baptist University, Matthew Lee Anderson writes on “The New Evangelical Scandal”. Be warned: This article is pretty long, so you need to read it when you have an opportunity to devote a lot of time to it.
This article is a comprehensive look at what we can see in the younger, emerging generation of evangelicals and what it tells us about the future of evangelicalism. It starts out by looking at evangelical voting in the 2008 presidential election, and goes from there to talk about the ambivalence of younger evangelicals toward politics, and from there to look at other trends which define the emerging generation of younger evangelicals.
To me, this article comes off as an apologetic for the older generation of evangelicals. It seems to me that the author has taken a tone that the issues which define younger evangelicals are simply generational preferences and that we need to grow up, quit whining, get it together, and fall in line with the rest of evangelical Protestant-dom.
I would strongly disagree with this assessment, if in fact this is what the author is really saying. I believe that there is much in evangelical Protestant-dom that needs to be changed, and I appreciate that the younger generation of evangelicals is stepping out and calling for change in these areas. However, this article serves as a reminder that we need to check our motives. In seeking to disengage from partisan politics and the culture war, are we doing so because we truly believe that God is apolitical, or because we want to curry favor with the world by distancing ourselves from our elders who are so obnoxious about culture war issues? In seeking to engage with the culture around us, is our motive truly to build understanding with people on the outside in order to be able to relate to them authentically, or is it to simply give ourselves an excuse to indulge ourselves in the same consumer culture as the world around us without any concern for its bad effects?
While I believe that there is much in evangelicalism that needs to be changed, and I laud younger evangelicals for calling for change in these areas, I also believe that we need to check our motives. In calling for change we need to be sure that we are motivated by honest, godly concern for the fate of our movement, and not simply a desire to throw off the old ways and strike off in our own direction. If this is all there is to our motives, then our calls for change in the world of evangelicalism are nothing more than the same old hot air that younger generations have spouted in the face of older generations since time immemorial. Toward this end, this article serves as a necessary corrective for us.