Saturday, April 24, 2010

Younger Pastors and Their Increasing Conservatism

This snippet from Al Mohler's interview last week with Ligon Duncan is intriguing. It starts around the 12:40 mark.

Mohler: "Are you a bit surprised that, in one sense, the younger pastors these days are actually more conservative, by and large?"

Duncan:
I'm not, because they grew up in a culture that they know is not a friend to them, whereas so many of the guys our age and older thought that the culture was a friend to them, or that they could fit into the culture, or that they could make d├ętente with the culture. And these young guys know that this culture is not their friend. And so they're on fire for truth. They're ready to be countercultural. They're ready to speak truth to power. They're ready to be a minority. And it's encouraging, very frankly, to me, to look at them. They're heroes to me. [longer comments from Mohler] . . . They didn't become conservative evangelicals by accident. They had to make that choice. It wasn't something that they just sort of inherited through tradition. It's something that they had to do against the tide.
Is the underlying assumption true? I suppose it depends where you draw the circle and how you define conservatism.

10 comments:

Dan Salter said...

Lately, Duncan has been giving me lots of "What?!" reactions. First he says the young find today's culture against them and then calls them heroes because they had to "make that choice" for truth? Sounds like they were bullied into the corner by the unfriendly culture.

Actually, I think he's got it backwards. The Christian growing up in the 60s and 70s thought of culture as much more of an enemy. There were gazillions of taboos. Rock music was the Devil's music. Beer was the Devil's brew. You had to dress up for church or be cast as a rebellious liberal.

Today most conservative evangelicals don't have that kind of pressure. They can mix with culture regarding music, drinking, and dress. I'm not arguing for the rightness or wrongness of that; it just is what it is, meaning that particular battles of culture have been removed, not necessarily increased.

Another thing is that in the "olden days" (again, 60s and 70s) there was more pressure to follow a single style and fashion. For example, teen and 20-something women wore long straight hair parted in the middle. Okay, maybe only 80% did, but that is the kind of follow-the-leader culture pressure of the time. Today, while style and fashion may broadly fit certain types, there are more choices so as to put your own mark on fashion. That kind of allowance for individual choice can be seen in a lot more than fashion. And it is that general freedom of choice that society (culture) now offers that also gives the young pastor more confidence to seek truth on his own rather than simply follow trends to be accepted.

By this I'm not arguing that culture is getting better. But I do think conservative evangelicals concern themselves more with defining worldliness in specifics rather than generalities. Rather than broadly categorize such things as drinking as worldly because "the world" does it, they tend to define worldliness as the mode or excess of drinking that specifically turns a person from his/her focus on God. (Again, I'm not trying to defend or attack drinking. This is just the way it is, and it gives rise to reduced emphasis on taboos, freeing the ce to be attracted by and focused on more important things like doctrine.)

Okay, I feel like I'm rambling. Maybe someone else can offer a more cogent response.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I think there is a conservative pendulum swing in evangelicalism. I believe it is led by men that are anchored by reformed theology. I don't think it will last unless there is some sort of turn from what is mainly the remaining heteropathy. Edwards saw this danger in the Great Awakening with his Treatise on the Religious Affections. True doctrine will not survive without true affections. God said to "love Him," and that includes more than right doctrine.

One more thing, the conservative evangelicals are not completely anchored, because they have left a historic, reformed bibliology. They moved from the pre-modern sole scriptura. The uncertainty won't sustain conservatism. I guarantee that.

Frank said...

Kent,

How can you say these people are conservative when their wives wear pants all the time?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

I would expect that your wife wears the pants, but I don't think that probably applies to everyone.

ben said...

Kent,

You're out of line.

I'm going to leave your comment in place because you made it publicly, and I think it brings shame on you, not Frank.

You're not welcome to post here until you find a way to address your poor choice appropriately.

Kent Brandenburg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kent Brandenburg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ben said...

Kent,

Wrong answer.

I don't know whether Frank's comment was sincere or sarcastic. I suspect the latter, but in either case it calls into question what you really believe about conservatism. Off-topic? A bit, but not as much as you suggest. And it's not as if that's the first time it's ever happened here. Hey, my blog, my rules.

Bottom line: Frank addressed ideas, in some fashion. What I won't tolerate here is a cheap-shot ignorant personal attack—particularly at a guy's relationship at his wife. Whether it was tongue-in-cheek or not means very little to me.

Kent Brandenburg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Ben,

A little touchy there, aren't you?