I know I’m supposed to be working on themes and bits and bytes but instead I’m going to talk about something else. Because I can. I was reading through the bajillion blogs I read and came across the article Young Evangelicals are Getting High and thought, “kids these days…” Once I read it a bit and realized this wasn’t the scandal I was thinking, but instead an entirely different and juicier scandal, I immediately started doing internal high fives.
“A friend of mine attended a Christian college where almost all of the students, including her, grew up in non-denominational, evangelical Protestant churches. A few years after graduation, she is the only person in her graduating class who is not Roman Catholic, high Anglican or Lutheran.”
Yeah, another person sees it. Evangelicals are leaving in droves, escaping the leaking schism-fest that is the modern Evangelical movement, for the more ancient traditions. Of course, the author includes in this the ancient traditions of the Lutheran and Anglican church, which stretch all the way back to … the 16th century! 500 years seems like a lot on some scales, but when you stack it up against 2,000 years it suddenly doesn’t look that big. I’m not sure that’s what I would call ancient.
Anyway, the basic point holds though. There is a distinct current troubling the demographic waters that is pushing people toward the safe harbors of the ancient church. Sometimes those currents push gently, and sometimes very hard. Conversions are a fact of life now days, and that should spawn lots of little niggling questions for the Protestants watching their friends and family sail away to wonder what’s going on.
Hint: In 33 AD there was 1 church. In 1054 Rome splits with the rest of the church. The reformation in 1517 gives you 3. Then the craziness starts. 15 years later: 1530s = 6+. Now, almost 40,000.
But then I got to the end of the blog post, and that’s where I diverge. The author sees some distinction between the stayers and leavers. Stayers apparently are those that got the good training. Leavers went to the youth groups with xboxes I guess. Too much church Halo. For the well trained:
“These kids have the tools they need to think biblically through the deep and difficult issues of the day and articulate their position without having a crisis of faith. They know the headlines, church history, theology and their Bibles, and so are equipped to engage culture in a winsome, accessible way. They have a relationship with God that is not based on their feelings or commitments but on the enduring promises of the Word and so they can ride out the trends of the American church, knowing that they will pass regardless of mass defections to Rome.”
I would kindly suggest that this is being very rosey glassed, and way too kind. In my personal experience there isn’t such a distinction. Leavers are probably more likely to have been well trained, have a grounding in theology, understand the denominational breakdowns, and certainly are more likely to have a grasp of the grander sweep of church history. Good, bad, and ugly. Stayers are very likely to be more insulated from the harder questions of Christian history I’ve found. Of course, I’m a leaver, so what else would I say. 🙂
The exodus from low-church to high-church is happening. The masses who are looking at the ancient church are slowly becoming aware that going historic doesn’t mean Rome, it means Constantinople. There’s another church tradition in play that for Evangelicals has been almost completely invisible. If this were hide and seek that would be a huge advantage. Orthodox for the win! But it’s not. So thank you to all the many Orthodox who are getting visible and talking about the awesome treasure available to those who are seeing the weakness of evangelical Protestantism.