Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Young, Restless, and Restorationist

As a minister I often read and sometimes travel in circles outside the Restoration Movement, in what is broadly called evangelicalism. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon occurring among this group , a resurgence in Reformed Theology (i.e. the teachings of men like John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Knox, and others). In 2009, Time Magazine listed The New Calvinism as one of the Top 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Young people who have been attracted to this have been called, “Young, Restless, and Reformed” in numerous articles, books, and blog posts. Dissatisfied with the status quo that they are experiencing in their congregations, they are starting to read, study, and promote some of the core doctrines that launched the Protestant Reformation.

These facts may fascinate some folks, but why am I writing about them in a column that is supposed to promote Restoration Movement principles? The answer is simple. I’m wondering whether the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ can demonstrate a similar rebirth. Does our movement have significant numbers of people who can be identified as, “Young, Restless, and Restorationist”? If so, how can we motivate and mobilize them to spread their enthusiasm among our churches and the world? If not, can such a passion be created, and how can it be done?

The plea of our forefathers to restore New Testament Christianity needs to be rediscovered by a new generation (actually, multiple generations are good candidates for exposure to this subject). The very principles that once made the Restoration Movement the fastest growing movement in North America are just as valid today as they were 200 years ago. The early slogans still ring true:
Where the Scriptures speak we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.
No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible.
Do Bible things in Bible ways; call Bible things by Bible names.
In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion liberty; in all things, charity.
Surely there are people in their 20’s and 30’s who have grown weary of the “same old church thing” and would be eager to embrace a return to the church as depicted on the pages of the New Testament. Our Calvinist friends have demonstrated that young people are not averse to things of a spiritual/biblical nature. I urge you to pray for the Lord to raise up leaders in our movement who are able to capture the imaginations of our young and bright believers. The purpose is not simply to perpetuate the movement or to elevate human leaders like Alexander Campbell or Walter Scott. Rather, the goal should be to promote the truth that has eternal value.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the slogans and would encourage that direction. However, it seems to me that most "restorationists" believe in restoring American frontier 19th century christianity. That's really little different than thsoe going back only to Calvin, etc.
So much good biblical scholarship has taken place over the past 150 years that should aid us in understanding what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ in the first, as well as twenty-first, century.

Tom said...

Where in his post is Mike saying we should disregard good biblical scholarship? The Restoration Plea is a call back to New Testament Christianity. What aspects of the movement do you see trying to restore "American frontier 19th century Christianity"?

Anonymous said...

I didn't accuse Mike of disregarding good biblical scholarship. I was simply speaking to my expereience with most restorationists.