Today, many Americans wonder out loud if democracy is an absolute good, applicable to every culture, at every place, in every time (more). That’s new. It used to be that democracy was one of those “A-is-true” truths. Anything else was “not-A” and therefore not true.
Many are also questioning capitalism (more). These kinds of doubts are rare in American history. Many are wondering if absolutes even exist; if givens are really givens.
In other areas of our society as well…
- the bedrock belief in, and description of, family is morphing in our time.
- Our trust in authority figures is eroding as well (how can we trust them to have truth, if truth itself is questionable?).
- We don’t think our doctors have the final word they once did.
- Western medicine isn’t the “A-truth” it once was. The East’s medical philosophy seems just as valid. Our doctor’s truth becomes one among many and he or she must compete in the marketplace of ideas. Their truth might be right for us; but it might not.
And politicians? They certainly don’t have a corner on truth
– or professors…
– or lawyers…
– and especially not preachers.
In fact, we pity preachers. This poor guy actually thinks he has some absolute truth. He believes his certainty has God’s stamp of approval. He believes his truth trumps everybody else’s. But in a universe where time and sub-atomic particles can be two things at the same moment, the very idea of having an absolute truth jangles most young people.
We Christians often stand up and say…
“young person, I have a list of God’s absolute truths for you… and here it is…”
But before we open our mouths to tell them our list of precious and timeless truths, we’ve lost them. They know the universe is a relative place. They know that the universe is an illusory place. They know that two, seemingly mutually exclusive truths can both be “true.”
So in their minds, before we even start, whatever truths we’re about to tell them, are already suspect; deluded at best, false, toxic, or harmful at worst.
So we don’t get to tell them about Jesus’ teachings. We don’t get to tell them about our souls being awakened and made alive by the Indwelling Spirit of God. We don’t get to tell them about the gift of spiritual community, or awakening to the Inner Voice.
Not because young people aren’t just as hungry for these things as we are (they are). No, we don’t get to tell them about these things because they don’t live in the universe we do any more.
It’s a relief to know our kids are not “rebelling against God” but responding to the tune of a different drummer than we are used to. We need to do some catching up to see what they see. And yes, the old dogmatic church is not doing a very good job of helping us realize this.