Young, Restless, Foolish

I now approach evangelical debates with a little more grace and familial language

“There is a caricature of young Reformed guys as being hard to get along with and angry. I agree. But it’s not because they’re Reformed. It’s because they are young, mere infants in the faith. It’s not true of every young Christian, but it seems to be particularly true of zealous, academically minded men.”

 

In 1997 the only place online to discuss ideas was in AOL chat rooms. If blogs had been around when I became a Christian, I would have been that guy writing in the comment sections in ALL CAPS TO GET MY POINT ACROSS.

I got frustrated with people who did not seem to take their faith seriously. I got mad at parents of young kids for always being late. Mad at families for not signing up for Bible studies. Mad at church members for not being in Sunday school. Mad at long-time believers for not knowing things I had just learned. Mad at youth for falling into the same junk I had done as an unbeliever. And certainly mad if people did not use the NASB. People today would have called me a young, angry Calvinist. The only problem is that I didn’t know anything about John Calvin or anyone else in the Reformed world.

Then I went to seminary and my roommate gave me the nickname “Fun D.” I was frustrated at professors, at students, and at people in my local church. In my first encounter with a certain French Canadian New Testament professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I challenged him. I didn’t know any better. I was just a young, excited fool. That professor pulled me aside and called me “amateurish.” I had to look up what he meant.

There is a caricature of young Reformed guys as being hard to get along with and angry. I agree. But it’s not because they’re Reformed. It’s because they are young, mere infants in the faith. It’s not true of every young Christian, but it seems to be particularly true of zealous, academically minded men.

Why So Angry?

I have often seen this trajectory repeated in the lives of others. I have wondered how this pattern of pride could even happen. How could a young Christian given the anchor of God-centered theology be such a fool? Here is why: he’s not mature.

Reading a Christian book or attending a class or being mentored for six months does not make you mature. It might move the needle a centimeter, but if discipleship is a race, you have barely taken your feet off the starting block. Your old self has been crucified, but when you open a book on any topic, you still read it through an immature lens. Limited experience makes you think the latest book you read is normative. You think that everyone should have this same feeling of newness. Blanket statements make a lot of sense in your limited view of the world.

Those of us who have walked with Christ for many years should give these young Christians a break. The world today allows us to say more things in a public forum than any other people in history. Want to voice instant displeasure within a Christian ministry? Just head to the computer and let the world know. Be thankful there was no Twitter when you were young.
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