21 July 2008

Open Mind, Hard Heart

I realized something the other day.

I am so open-minded to the point that I am close-minded to close-minded people.

This summer I am interning as a youth director at an ultra-conservative church in Columbus. The church is the complete opposite to everything I am accustomed to. There's pews, deacon chairs, a communion table... The service is filled with formal liturgical readings and hymns accompanied by an organ. Although the style is not of my taste, the traditionalism of the church is not what bothers me. What bothers me is how conservative they are in their thinking and teaching.

This whole summer that I've been attending there the pastor has been preaching about nothing but the book of Revelation. No problem, except that he reads it as literally as possible without taking the original literary context into mind and then doesn't even draw a contemporary application from the text. Basically, the whole conclusion to each sermon is that the "Tribulation" is going be really, really terrible and that it is going to be suck to be one of the people who is "left behind." Seriously.

Now, I don't believe in reading Revelation like a crystal ball, especially since it was written to a specific group of people at a specific time in history. It drives me crazy sitting in that church and listening to this same thing every Sunday. Lately, I've been realizing that since I'm so opposed to this idea I don't bother to examine other things that the pastor may say. I quickly write them all off as wrong and don't really consider it too much. Anything that is conservative or spoken in Christian lingo is quickly disregarded.

That's when I finally started developing a deeper understanding of my generation's frame of mind. We're rebellious. We love going against the ideology of previous generations. In fact, we strive to think of new, provocative ideas in response to the old traditional way of thinking. It's almost as if we're always trying to come up with something more shocking, something more contradictory. Think about it. We try so hard to establish Christianity as a relationship instead of a religion. In fact, so many of us don't even like to call ourselves Christians. We instead assume the identity as a "follower of Christ." We place such a large emphasis on the present day and age, in opposition to the old concentration on the afterlife. Theological truths that were previously accepted are now viewed as "too close-minded." I've found myself even teaching all of these ideas to the kids I've been mentoring at the church.

One thing's for sure: Our generation is dramatically shaping Christianity.

This is such a scary thought. Christianity today looks so different from what it looked in years past. While I think that a lot of the changes we have been applying are for the best and are really shaping Christianity to look like it's supposed to, sometimes I worry about the power we possess. There is the huge danger of going way too far with our postmodern mindset.

Maybe we've already gone too far...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

deep yet true. amazing how no one else has seen that yet.