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postmodern, millenials, etc...

I met yesterday with the Education Hub to do some long range planning, and though we're not at all done and have just started the conversation, it was a good one. We started out talking about how ministry is going to be different for these generations, because of everything that has changed so rapidly within the last few generations. I am on the edge of being a millenial (born 1982-2001ish), and have some Generation X (born 1964-1982ish) qualities because my brother was squarely in Gen X. But for the most part I understand Millenials, because I am certainly one of them.

We talked a lot about postmodern thinking is going to affect ministry, and discussed absolute truth, which really brings me to my ultimate question that the Children's ministry director and I have been asking each other, and that is, "What is it that is so foundational to my faith, that without it, I can no longer live the Christian life I lead?"

For many postmoderns (approximately 60-70% of millenials are postmodern thinkers), the answer is going to be one filled with mystery I would venture to say. Or really I would even say that the question would cause someone who is postmodern in their thinking to ask more questions. That's my initial reaction to the question at least.

I remember a really great theological conversation that I had while sitting on a porch in Costa Rica very early in the morning. We were up, ready to go work, and suddenly this discussion of the virgin birth came up. And whether or not we believed in it. The ultimate answer for us came in the form of a question about why it matters. The understanding of the context for many of these "core beliefs" is more about the story for me. The relevancy for me lies in why it is important. The importance of understanding the virgin birth is to understand the human and Godly nature of Jesus. Many of these stories for me have meaning far beyond their literal understanding. Jesus spoke in parables in order to teach lessons from a different perspective. He didn't just lay everything out in purpose or mission statements. He didn't make it easy for his disciples to get it. I think that is because there is more to it than we can possibly begin to understand. There are some stories that I don't get. I don't understand their purpose. I get frustrated that I just don't get it, but when I remember the larger part of the story then I understand that maybe I am not supposed to get it all. And I'm ok with that. I'm all right with living in the mystery.

I know that many people would probably question me when I say these things. But I've never been one to be ok with really stringent rules. I like to do things my own way, and I think as ministry keeps happening in this world we're going to have to be able to deal with these questions, and maybe that means asking more questions and being ok with not having the immediate answer. I'm not ever going to say that I've got God figured out, because frankly, I just don't think it is possible to have God figured out. It is part of the mystery of it all.

So what belief for you is so important that if it disappeared tomorrow then you would no longer be able to live your life as a Christian?
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1 Comments:

Great post. I was brought up with a strong emphasis on learning and understanding Good Doctrineâ„¢. I still think it's important, for the reasons you described; namely, concepts like the virgin birth teach us about the nature of God and his otherness from the world. That's the whole point. Whether or not it's meant to be taken literally doesn't matter in the big scheme of things.

It's like an Aesop fable. Shall we get hung up on "OMGZ a talking dog!!1" and give up and walk away, or look beyond the narrative to find the moral of the story? And isn't there truth there, underneath, worth discovering?

Maybe it's a PoMo/millennial thing, but I think a big difference between us and many older Christians is that we're willing to say "I don't know, and I don't care" about some things. The old idea is that you MUST choose: either virgin birth or no virgin birth (or whatever the doctrine of the hour is) but there's not supposed to be any middle ground.

Yet here I am in that middle ground, "indecisive." And here you are too, I think, though I hate to put words in your mouth. It's not really apathy, it's just recognizing that there are mysteries we can't be certain about, and these mysteries are *not* crucial to our faith, and ultimately we'd rather stop worrying about nonessentials and just walk with God already.

Sorry for the long comment, it's really an article in itself. I just want to add that at this point for me, there's only one belief I could never part with... the knowledge that God loves me and leads me and cares for me, and asks only that I love him in return and be that love to those around me. It's intensely personal but real as the air I breathe. All doctrine takes a backseat to that.

By Anonymous Parker, at 1:38 PM  

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