Ho hum, another day, another preachy, arrogant, self-important op-ed, from a millennial telling churches how to avoid scaring off the sensitive snowflakes born around the turn of the century.
Up front I admit that I agree with her about "love on" (a hideous phrase) and even to some extent about "God will never give you more than you can handle." But as for the other three, if she doesn't like them, she needs to get over it. And most of all, get over herself.
In particular, she has a heck of a lot of gall, which simply makes her look childish, when discussing the phrase "The Bible clearly says..." That's supposed to be a no-no? Here's young Addie, telling us why:
We are the first generation to grow up in the age of information technology, and we have at our fingertips hundreds of commentaries, sermons, ideas, and books. We can engage with Biblical scholars on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s impossible not to see the way that their doctrines – rooted in the same Bible – differ and clash.
We’re acutely aware of the Bible’s intricacies. We know the Bible is clear about some things– but also that much is not clear. We know the words are weighted to a culture that we don’t completely understand and that the scholars will never all agree.
We want to hear our pastors approach these words with humility and reverence. Saying, “This is where study and prayer have led me, but I could be wrong,” does infinitely more to secure our trust than The Bible clearly says…
The fog of pride and self-promotion here really leaves one gasping for air. Let me get this straight, Addie: Because you have access to Bible commentaries on the Internet and can read "Biblical scholars" tweeting their little hearts out on Twitter, maybe even ask them some questions by way of your own tweets, pastors shouldn't say, "The Bible clearly says." Where does one begin? How about with the fact that there are a lot of things, probably including things that many millennials don't like, that the Bible does clearly say? We should also point out that relativism tinged with self-centeredness is the curse of too many millennials and that they need to apply a little of that vaunted humility to get over it and to admit that the Bible judges them rather than vice versa. We could continue with the fact that St. Paul's injunction to Timothy to "preach the Word. Be instant in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" doesn't really sound much at all like "This is where study and prayer have led me, but I could be wrong." Dare I say, "The Bible clearly says" that pastors are to teach doctrine boldly and to reprove false teachers rather than acting like limp-wristed wimps, even though the latter is the hipster-approved pastoral style.
Then there's this bit. Addie tells pastors not to use "Black and white quantifiers of faith, such as 'Believer, Unbeliever, Backsliding'" and explains the prohibition thus:
Millennials are sick of rhetoric that centers around who’s in and who’s out. We know our own doubtful hearts enough to know that belief and unbelief so often coexist. Those of us who follow the Christian faith know that [the] world around us feels truer than the invisible God who holds it together.
Terms like backsliding that try to pinpoint the success (or, more accurately, lack thereof) of our faith, frustrate us. We don’t want to hustle to prove our faith; we don’t want to pretend. We want to be accepted, not analyzed.
What point exactly is supposed to be supported by the semi-coherent statement that "the world around us feels truer than the invisible God who holds it together"? It seems that the point is supposed to be that millennials are creatures of emotion, that God doesn't feel very real to them, and that therefore we need to be careful constantly to assure them that we, like, totally accept them the way they are, man, rather than talking about such exclusionary concepts as believers and unbelievers.
Now, who was it who told that parable about the sheep and the goats? Oh, that's right, it was the all-loving Jesus. Oh, well, so much for not talking about "who's in and who's out." C. S. Lewis once remarked, I seem to recall, that the most terrifying things about hell were said by Jesus, not Paul.
Implicit in all of this "What you need to say to woo us" talk and its joyous acceptance in the mainstream media is the idea that truth doesn't matter all that much. Politics comes to church. Actually, this attitude is also fatal in politics. It creates a kind of abuser situation in which the MSM and other concern trolls keep telling conservative (or even just Republican) politicians that they still aren't doing enough or the right things to be loved and trusted (notice Addie is big on getting the millennials to trust you) by the masses, that whatever bad things happen to them are their own fault for not trying hard enough, and that they need to try harder to do what the media wants them to do. Whether conservative criticisms of left-wing policies are accurate or not is thus set aside by means of what really amounts to a postmodern appeal to how people feel. The fact that the media will always make sure that many people feel that the Republicans haven't moved far enough left, will always make sure that the merits or demerits of liberal policies are not fairly discussed, is conveniently left out of account, because perception, not truth, is all that matters. This makes the analogy to the abused wife complete, because an abuser will always blame his victim, tell his victim to try harder, and then abuse again regardless.
Leaders too often accept this kind of abuse, whether in the political or in the religious realm, because they are too sincere and too naive in wanting to help by winning hearts and minds. Therefore, they keep hoping that if they just cook the dinner better next time they won't get a beating. It's a mug's game, and I suggest that both pastors and politicians stop playing it.
Tell Addie and her friends to sit down, shut up, and try to pay attention to distinguishing truth from falsehood instead of asking everyone else to cater to their feelings. You never know. Maybe a few of them will do so and, in consequence, will actually admit a gleam of light into their sophomoric darkness.