CHRISTIAN LIVING: Be a Witness for Christ, Matthew 10:32-34 (, 051214)


by Mike S. Adams


[Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).]


Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth stated, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”


As I was re-reading those three verses yesterday, I was reminded of a speech broadcast live (and rebroadcast several times) on television from my school, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. In the speech, the self-proclaimed religious expert strongly urged the audience to abandon the notion of the deity of Christ. To do so, he claimed, would be to fully appreciate what a great man Jesus really was.


Such an assertion raises a number of issues. One issue is the weight of the ego of the speaker who urges us to believe that he is telling the truth about the deity of Christ – while suggesting that Jesus was simply lying. In the conflict between the religious speaker and Jesus Christ there is, of course, a gap in credibility. One has been the subject of more books than any other who has ever walked upon the planet and also has the distinction of having time based upon His birth. On the other hand, I cannot even recall the speaker’s name.


Of course, another issue is the mental dexterity of a speaker who claims that Jesus is only a great man if He (or he) is also a liar. Such assertions were once confined to those with IQs below room temperature – long before our universities declared war upon the notion of truth (or Truth) in the postmodern era of education. Now that we scoff at the notion of truth, the epithet “liar” has lost some of its punch.


The speaker who urged the audience to reject Christ’s claim that He is God did so under the full protection of the First Amendment. And I am glad that he was able to do so. There is no better appreciation of the Truth than that which is gained from its juxtaposition with falsity.


But the problem at my university (and many others) is that the First Amendment is not deemed applicable to those who make the contrary assertion that Christ was, and is, our Lord and Savior precisely because He is the Almighty God. A conversation I had with a student just last week is illustrative.


The student was fired from his job at UNCW for being too “open” about his faith in Jesus Christ. Fortunately, he got another job on campus shortly after he lost one for disagreeing with the “Gospel” according to the Office of Campus Diversity and, instead, following the Gospel according to Matthew. (See paragraph one for details).


I do not know whether the student was asking me for advice but here it is anyway:


Your goal in your new job at UNCW is to get fired again. The reward for doing so will be much greater than the minimum wage. (See paragraph one for details).


If this one example does not suffice to demonstrate that UNCW (The University of No Christian Witnesses) is intolerant towards Christian speech, consider another. Last month, a new Christian student organization was told to be cautious in its efforts to spread the Word of God because of the university’s harassment policy, which, of course, limits “offensive” speech.


And you know the type of speech they are talking about. It’s the kind that creates a “hostile environment.” (See paragraph one for details).


When I received an email from one of the Christians in the organization – an email that included the text of the administrator’s preposterous warning – he was looking for advice on how to deal with the situation. I offer it gladly in these following sentences:


Your goal in your new Christian organization is to spread the Word of God with such zeal that you will be thrown off campus for violating the harassment policy – the one that ignorant administrators think trumps the First Amendment right to religious expression. (This is also the policy that malicious administrators pretend to think trumps the First Amendment right to religious expression).


Of course, getting booted off campus will not be a big deal. But the reward will be very great. (See paragraph one for details).


As I think about my advice to these students, I am reminded of the “Holiday Greeting” sent out earlier this week by UNCW Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. The greeting mentions the word “diversity” but not the words “Christ” or “Christmas.”


There is something very wrong with the idea that the word “Christ” is offensive by itself but protected free speech if followed by the words “was not the Son of God.” I believe that this idea has consequences. (See paragraph one for details.)




THEOLOGY: Can a Christian Deny the Virgin Birth? (031219)


Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? This question would perplex the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries, but modern denials of biblical truth make the question tragically significant. Of all biblical doctrines, the doctrine of Christ’s virginal conception has often been the specific target of modern denial and attack.


Attacks upon the virgin birth emerged in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, with some theologians attempting to harmonize the anti-supernaturalism of the modern mind with the church’s teaching about Christ. The great quest of liberal theology has been to invent a Jesus who is stripped of all supernatural power, deity, and authority.


The fountainhead of this quest includes figures such as Albert Schweitzer and Rudolf Bultmann. Often considered the most influential New Testament scholar of the twentieth century, Bultmann argued that the New Testament presents a mythological worldview that modern men and women simply cannot accept as real. The virgin birth is simply a part of this mythological structure and Bultmann urged his program of “demythologization” in order to construct a faith liberated from miracles and all vestiges of the supernatural. Jesus was reduced to an enlightened teacher and existentialist model.


In America, the public denial of the virgin birth can be traced to the emergence of Protestant liberalism in the early 20th century. In his famous sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?,” Harry Emerson Fosdick—an unabashed liberal—aimed his attention at “the vexed and mooted question of the virgin birth.” Fosdick, preaching from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, allowed that Christians may hold “quite different points of view about a matter like the virgin birth.” He accepted the fact that many Christians believed the virgin birth to be historically true and theologically significant. Fosdick likened this belief to trust in “a special biological miracle.” Nevertheless, Fosdick insisted that others, equally Christian, could disagree with those who believe the virgin birth to be historically true: “But, side by side with them in the evangelical churches is a group of equally loyal and reverent people who would say that the virgin birth is not to be accepted as an historic fact. To believe in the virgin birth as an explanation of great personality is one of the familiar ways in which the ancient world was accustomed to account for unusual superiority.”


Fosdick explained that those who deny the virgin birth hold to a specific pattern of reasoning. As he explained, “those first disciples adored Jesus—as we do; when they thought about his coming they were sure that he came specially from God—as we are; this adoration and conviction they associated with God’s special influence and intention in his birth—as we do; but they phrased it in terms of a biological miracle that our modern minds cannot use.”


Thus, Fosdick divided the church into two camps. Those he labeled as “fundamentalists” believe the virgin birth to be historical fact. The other camp, comprised of “enlightened” Christians who no longer obligate themselves to believe the Bible to be true, discard this “biological” miracle but still consider themselves to be Christians.


More contemporary attacks on the virgin birth of Christ have emerged from figures such as retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong [KH: a heretic] and German New Testament scholar Gerd Luedemann. Luedemann acknowledges that “most Christians in all the churches in the world confess as they recite the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Now...modern Christians completely discount the historicity of the virgin birth and understand it in a figurative sense.” Obviously, the “modern Christians” Luedemann identifies are those who allow the modern secular worldview to establish the frame for reality into which the claims of the Bible must be fitted. Those doctrines that do not fit easily within the secular frame must be automatically discarded. As might be expected, Luedemann’s denial of biblical truth is not limited to the virgin birth. He denies virtually everything the Bible reveals about Jesus Christ. In summarizing his argument, Luedemann states: “The tomb was full and the manger empty.” That is to say, Luedemann believes that Jesus was not born of a virgin and that He was not raised from the dead.


Another angle of attack on the virgin birth has come from the group of radical scholars who organize themselves into what is called the “Jesus Seminar.” These liberal scholars apply a radical form of interpretation and deny that the New Testament is in any way reliable as a source of knowledge about Jesus. Roman Catholic scholar John Dominic Crossan, a member of the Jesus Seminar, discounts the biblical narratives about the virgin birth as invented theology. He acknowledges that Matthew explicitly traces the virgin birth to Isaiah 7:14. Crossan explains that the author of Matthew simply made this up: “Clearly, somebody went seeking in the Old Testament for a text that could be interpreted as prophesying a virginal conception, even if such was never its original meaning. Somebody had already decided on the transcendental importance of the adult Jesus and sought to retroject that significance on to the conception and birth itself.”


Crossan denies that Matthew and Luke can be taken with any historical seriousness, and he understands the biblical doctrine of the virgin birth to be an insurmountable obstacle to modern people as they encounter the New Testament. As with Luedemann, Crossan’s denial of the virgin birth is only a hint of what is to come. In Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, Crossan presents an account of Jesus that would offend no secularist or atheist. Obviously, Crossan’s vision also bears no resemblance to the New Testament.


For others, the rejection of the birth is tied to a specific ideology. In The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives, Jane Schaberg accuses the church of inventing the doctrine of the virgin birth in order to subordinate women. As she summarizes: “The charge of contemporary feminists, then, is not that the image of the Virgin Mary is unimportant or irrelevant, but that it contributes to and is integral to the oppression of women.” Schaberg states that the conception of Jesus was most likely the result of extra-marital sex or rape. She chooses to emphasize the latter possibility and turns this into a feminist fantasy in which Mary is the heroine who overcomes. Schaberg offers a tragic, but instructive model of what happens when ideology trumps trust in the biblical text. Her most basic agenda is not even concerned with the question of the virgin birth of Christ, but with turning this biblical account into service for the feminist agenda.


Bishop Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church offers further evidence of modern heresy. In an address he presented on June 25, 2002 at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, this bishop denied the faith wholesale. Sprague, who serves as Presiding Bishop of the United Methodist Church in northern Illinois, has been called “the most vocally prominent active liberal bishop in Protestantism today.” Sprague is proud of this designation and takes it as a compliment: “I really make no apology for that. I don’t consider myself a liberal. I consider myself a radical.” Sprague lives up to his self-designation.


In his Illiff address, Bishop Sprague claimed that the “myth” of the virgin birth “was not intended as historical fact, but was employed by Matthew and Luke in different ways to appoint poetically the truth about Jesus as experienced in the emerging church.” Sprague defined a theological myth as “not false presentation but a valid and quite persuasive literary device employed to point to ultimate truth that can only be insinuated symbolically and never depicted exhaustively.” Jesus, Sprague insists, was born to human parents and did not possess “trans-human, supernatural powers.”


Thus, Sprague dismisses the miracles, the exclusivity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection as well as the virgin birth. His Christology is explicitly heretical: “Jesus was not born the Christ, rather by the confluence of grace with faith, he became the Christ, God’s beloved in whom God was well pleased.”


Bishop Sprague was charged with heresy but has twice been cleared of the charge—a clear sign that the mainline Protestant denominations are unwilling to identify as heretics even those who openly teach heresy. The presence of theologians and pastors who deny the virgin birth in the theological seminaries and pulpits of the land is evidence of the sweeping tide of unbelief that marks so many institutions and churches in our time.


Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? The answer to that question must be a decisive No. Those who deny the virgin birth reject the authority of Scripture, deny the supernatural birth of the Savior, undermine the very foundations of the Gospel, and have no way of explaining the deity of Christ.


Anyone who claims that the virgin birth can be discarded even as the deity of Christ is affirmed is either intellectually dishonest or theological incompetent.


Several years ago, Cecil Sherman—then a Southern Baptist, but later the first coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship—stated: “A teacher who might also be led by the Scripture not to believe in the Virgin Birth should not be fired.” Consider the logic of that statement. A Christian can be led by the Bible to deny what the Bible teaches? This kind of logic is what has allowed those who deny the virgin birth to sit comfortably in liberal theological seminaries and to preach their reductionistic Christ from major pulpits.


Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ. The Savior who died for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine, it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls.


“Everyone admits that the Bible represents Jesus as having been conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. The only question is whether in making that representation the Bible is true or false.” So declared J. Gresham Machen in his great work, The Virgin Birth of Christ. As Machen went on to argue, “if the Bible is regarded as being wrong in what it says about the birth of Christ, then obviously the authority of the Bible in any high sense, is gone.”


The authority of the Bible is almost completely gone where liberal theology holds its sway. The authority of the Bible is replaced with the secular worldview of the modern age and the postmodern denial of truth itself. The true church stands without apology upon the authority of the Bible and declares that Jesus was indeed “born of a virgin.” Though the denial of this doctrine is now tragically common, the historical truth of Christ’s birth remains inviolate. No true Christian can deny the virgin birth.




SOCIETY: The Path to Cultural Destruction—and the Way of Recovery (040128)


Peggy Noonan is right. At some point, in some moment, all of us must admit that something remarkable has happened to American culture. Mrs. Noonan, a former presidential speechwriter, recalls that this moment came for her during a high school graduation in the early 1970s. A young girl walked across the stage to receive her diploma. The girl was obviously pregnant. Noonan recalls that her first impulse was admiration for the girl’s grit and determination against social disapproval. “But,” recognized Noonan, “society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding.” As she reflected, “Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother, not good for us.”


To this the Christian Church would say far more, but the great danger today is that many Christians are seeing the same evidence, and saying far less. A remarkable culture-shift has taken place around us. The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the very heart of our culture.


Reflecting on the changes experienced by America over just the last half-century, John Howard of the Rockford Institute described the end of World War II as “a half century and a whole civilization ago.” We know how he feels. Looking back on the America of 1945, it does look like a whole civilization has passed away.


The evidence is overwhelming. Moral relativism has so shaped the culture that the vast majority of Americans now see themselves as their own moral arbiter. Truth has been internalized, privatized, and subjectivized. Absolute or objective truth is denied outright. Research indicates that most Americans believe that truth is internal and relative. No one, the culture shouts, has a right to impose truth, morality, or cultural standards.


In the courts, revisionist legal theories and psycho-therapeutic issues have replaced concern for right and wrong. Justice has become a political argument, not a societal standard. Righteousness is rejected as a concept, a relic of an older age of a common morality, nuclear families, and Victorian dreams. The discourse of a revealed morality commanding right and forbidding wrong is as out of place in contemporary America as a log cabin on Wall Street.


The most influential sectors of society are allied in furthering the process of social disintegration. Television and mass culture have so shaped the American consciousness that many citizens are now intellectually unable to sustain a serious moral conversation. Those who attempt to engage the American people in a serious moral conversation are met with immediate dismissal or—more worrisome still—blank stares.


The arts are increasingly decadent, portraying violence, pornography, and banality as high culture. In the academy, deconstructionism and other purportedly post-modern theories have largely destroyed some disciplines and thrown others into incoherence. The search for truth has been abandoned in favor of political arguments over rights and privileges.


Looking within, Americans have adopted a therapeutic worldview which has transformed all issues of right and wrong into newly created categories of authenticity, self esteem, codependencies, and various psychological fads which basically tell us that we are victims, not responsible moral agents. A cult of self-worship has developed, substituting a search for the inner child in place of the worship of the transcendent God.


The Church has constantly been perplexed concerning its proper relation to culture. H. Richard Niebuhr traced five different patterns of cultural response in his famous work, Christ and Culture. The book over-simplified the issues and now looks awkwardly optimistic, but some of the patterns Niebuhr described are still evident. The Church has at times withdrawn from culture and sought refuge in attempted cultural isolation. At other times and in other contexts the Church has simply abdicated to the culture, thus reflecting the culture rather than proclaiming the cross. A myriad of patterns can be traced between these two extremes. The fact is that the Church has often exhibited several patterns at once, capitulating to culture on the one hand and seeking isolation on the other.


In candor, we must admit that the Church has been culturally displaced. Once an authoritative voice in the culture, the Church is often dismissed, and even more often ignored. At one time, the influence of the Church was sufficient to restrain cultural rebellion against God’s moral commandments—but no longer. The dynamic of the culture-shift marches onward. On the Protestant left, leaders have simply capitulated to the revisionist ideologies and surrendered revealed morality. On the evangelical wing, however, the greater temptation is to affirm biblical morality in principle, and then wink at infractions as matters of merely individual interest.


The displacement of the Church is characteristic of the process of secularization, which has now so thoroughly altered the landscape of American culture. Though sociologists point to continuing high levels of religious activity and statements of belief-both of these in sharp contrast to other western nations-the truth is that very little of this activity translates into authentic discipleship, active church membership, and bold Christian witness.


The worldview of most Americans is now thoroughly secularized, revolving around the self and its concerns, and based on relativism as an axiom. We Americans have become our own best friend, our own therapist, our own priest, and our own lawgiver. The old order is shattered, the new order is upon us.


What, then, is the Church to do? At the onset, we must disallow both optimism and despair. We have no right to expect, as did a previous generation, that “every day in every way things are getting better and better.” The same culture that has developed the microwave oven, the CAT-scan, and the vaccine for polio has also produced social pathologies which threaten the very existence of the culture. The operating room and the abortionist’s table are both symbols of our culture. Though claiming to be concerned with the quality of life, America is increasingly characterized by a culture of death. At the same time, though the direction of the culture may be dramatically downward, we have no right to assume that this slide cannot be corrected.


We must understand that, in the Christian worldview, culture is important—but never ultimate. Beyond this, we acknowledge that God is sovereign, and that His providence rules over all.


The mission of the Church in the midst of this cultural crisis is to proclaim the truth and reach out to the casualties. In the face of rampant relativisms, the believing Church must proclaim the truth of God’s Word, the permanence of His commands, and the reality of His judgment. Given the cultural context, this task is one of the most important tests of Christian faithfulness. To proclaim biblical truth to this culture is to risk social isolation, outright rejection, and, in some cases, potent attacks.


The Church which proclaims that adultery, premarital sex, and homosexuality are inherently and unquestionably sinful will quickly discover what it means to be cut off from the cultural mainstream. The preacher who takes on the divorce culture and takes his stand for the enduring covenant of marriage will run into direct confrontation with society’s attraction to “open marriage” and what some now describe as “serial monogamy.” The Christian who stands in defense of the unborn will be told that her voice is unwanted, unheeded, and unwelcome-and in no uncertain terms.


To contend for Christian truth in the face of this culture is to discover what it means to be a member of a cognitive minority; that is, a minority which quite evidently thinks and lives differently than the larger culture. To confess the truths of God’s Word in twenty-first century America is to take on a counter-cultural posture; to stand against the stream and to press against the grain.


At the same time, we must reach out and minister to the casualties of our cultural rebellion. The Church of Jesus Christ is comprised of sinners saved by grace. With the message of grace, we must reach out to those whose lives have been ruined and warped in the course of our cultural decay. Only the Church has the honest and truthful answers concerning the most basic issues facing our society. Our challenge is to match truth to compassion, and mercy to confrontation.


This was true in the first century, it is true now—and it will almost surely be true until the Lord returns. In our depravity, human beings naturally rebel against the truth of God’s Word, but it reveals the only means of salvation. Our charge is to bear witness.


The truths of God’s Word reveal the Gospel of spiritual transformation, and the proclamation of the truths of God’s Word is the only means available to us of cultural transformation. From beginning to end, it is all in God’s hands. We are called to faithful witness and compassionate ministry. In the context of post-Christian America, our task is to preach the Gospel and to proclaim the truths of God’s Word. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, the Gospel is foolishness to those seeking wisdom and a scandal to those looking for power. To the redeemed, however, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. This is the only way of genuine transformation—and recovery.




CHURCH: Christian Missions in the Third Millennium (Mohler, 060119)


Now facing its third millennium, the Christian church faces a moment of great historical importance and opportunity. The modern missionary movement is now over two centuries old. Looking back over those years, it is clear that God mobilized His people to make great strides in taking the gospel to many parts of the world.


This missionary movement has seen the evangelization of millions of persons representing thousands of ethnic and cultural groups. The Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages and dialects. Over the last several decades, new areas of the world have shown a remarkable response to the gospel, and the continent of Africa may now be the center of the world missionary enterprise. In fact, the last half of the twentieth century saw an enormous evangelistic response throughout the Pacific Rim and the African continent.


Today, the Christian church faces new challenges. Without exaggeration, we can point to the twenty-first century as a new era in Christian missions, and recognize it as a vast new opportunity.


Looking at Christian missions today, we may be seeing the birth of a new missiological movement. This new era in missions will build upon the accomplishments of the last 200 years, but it must also be adapted to the new realities of our world context.


The most important dimension of any vision for world missions is a passion to glorify God. From beginning to end, the Bible declares that God is glorifying Himself in the salvation of sinners, and that He desires to be worshipped among all the peoples of the earth. The impulse of the missionary conviction is drawn from the assurance that God saves sinners, and that He is glorifying Himself by creating a new people through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have the glad opportunity to glorify God by declaring the Gospel to all the peoples of the earth.


As John Piper has stated, “The deepest reason why our passion for God should fuel missions is that God’s passion for God fuels missions. Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God’s delight in being God.” In missions, we share God’s delight.


Pioneers such as William Carey gave birth to the modern missionary movement. It was Carey’s sense of evangelistic passion, set upon a clear foundation of biblical truth and confidence in the gospel, that compelled him to leave the safe confines of England and go to India. The full harvest of William Carey’s ministry will be known only in eternity. Most Christians are aware that he served for many years without a single convert. When many missionaries would have returned home or moved to greener pastures, Carey stayed and invested himself in India. He translated the New Testament and built bridges to the people of that great nation.


Since Carey’s time, thousands of missionaries have left homes and families to take the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth. Reviewing the history of the missionary movement, it is clear that great gains were made for the gospel. At the same time, every generation has left its own imprint on the missionary task, and each generation is blind to some of the cultural baggage it takes along with the gospel. At the height of the missions movement in the Victorian era, it often seemed that missionaries were just as intent on Westernizing native peoples as in evangelizing them. A new awareness of the global context and respect for native cultures should lead us to be careful to preach the gospel rather than Western culture.


The new vision for world missions is directed toward the reaching of people groups rather than nations. Missiological focus upon the nation-state is a remnant of the nineteenth century, when nations were conceived as singular units and national identity was paramount. This paradigm was long out of date by the end of the twentieth century. Christians now recognize that there are thousands of distinct people groups, each identifiable by culture, language, and social structure—and they are not always divided neatly by political boundaries. Each of these people groups represents a distinct missiological challenge, and each must be considered in its own right.


While it is likely that churches and denominational gatherings will continue to celebrate a parade of the flags of the nations, the reality is that each of those nations includes a collective of various people groups desperately in need of the gospel—people groups often dispersed throughout the globe.


This should bring a new humility as well as growing urgency to the church. So long as we were able to count nation-states in terms of missionary saturation, we could see a tremendous advance and what seemed to be a constant march of progress. When people groups are taken into consideration, however, we can clearly see that the greater challenge still lies before us. This means that the Christian church must develop cultural understanding and sensitivity, as well as linguistic and cultural dexterity, in the task of preaching the gospel to unreached persons.


This new vision for world missions is also remarkable in the fact that much, if not most, of the energy is coming from grassroots Christians rather than from institutional structures. Perhaps the greatest missionary advance among American churches is seen in the widespread participation of Christian laypersons in missionary trips and short-term mission projects. Churches that encourage and support this hands-on approach to missions will bear testimony to the powerful impact it has upon the participants and upon the missionary commitment of the entire congregation.


Today’s Christians are looking for an experiential participation in the missionary challenge. They draw great excitement in hearing from missionaries, but even greater commitment by being participants in the missionary movement themselves. Because of this, this new vision is also congregational in its focus. Individual congregations are taking up the missionary challenge, and measuring their own faithfulness by the number of missionaries sent around the world from among their own members.


Much of this new vision is flowing out of reports from the 10/40 window—that portion of the world between latitudes 10 and 40 degrees, where most of the world’s unreached peoples live. This focus on the Great Commission has led to a mobilization mentality that holds great promise for the future of the Christian church.


One missionary leader has defined this mobilization as “all of God’s people reaching all the peoples of the earth.” That motto sets the issue clearly. This generation must be committed to see all of God’s people together reaching all the peoples of the earth without regard to race, culture, economic reality, or geographical or political obstacles.


Over the past half-century, America has seen several generational transitions. As the new millennium dawns, the Baby Boom generation is now in mid-adulthood, and some are heading toward retirement. The GI generation that built so many of the great institutions and provided leadership in our denomination and churches is now reaching advanced years, though many in this generation continue to be active participants and well-known leaders. Behind the Baby Boomers are coming “Generation X,” the “Busters,” and the “Millennials.” How will these generations mold the missionary movement of the future?


This generation demonstrates a readiness to take on new challenges and to go where no previous generation has yet taken the gospel. They have been born into a culturally diverse world, and they are gifted with skills in intercultural communication. They are impatient with the cultural isolationism of previous generations. They see no political boundaries to the Gospel. They are ready to cross political borders and see no limitations on the Great Commission. Where previous generations wanted to support missions, this generation is determined to do missions. Incubated in an experience-driven culture, these young Christians are not interested in missions by proxy.


This new generation holds great promise, but it also demands urgent attention. The church needs to mobilize the energy of these younger Christians and deploy their gifts in cultural translation and adaptation. Nevertheless, this generation has inherited a dwindling deposit of doctrinal and theological understanding. Our churches and seminaries must quickly be about the business of grounding this generation in biblical truth, even as they are mobilizing for world missions.


In all likelihood, these new generations will establish a missiological pattern of long duration. We may well see a tidal wave of participatory missions unlike anything seen by the Christian church since the first century. Finally, it is up to the church both to release their energy and to ground their convictions.


Our vision for world evangelization is an important barometer of spiritual and theological health. A vibrant commitment to Christ leads to a passion for the Gospel. A grand embrace of God’s truth produces an enthusiasm to see God glorified as His name is proclaimed to the nations. It is time for a new generation to lead—and to point the way.