Another Post on Why Millennial Culture Warriors Surrendered

Facebook felt I should know that one of my friends, a friend I expected would know better, liked this Charisma Magazine post, titled with a click-baity “Here’s How the New Christian Left Is Twisting the Gospel.”

It starts out with the usual “Here’s why millennials are leaving the church” thing, and it’s filled with wave after wave of traditional nonsense about how we millennials adore compromising with The World™ and we’ve dropped out of the culture war because it’s just too damn hard or uncomfortable. Like this, paragraph 3:

Somehow the blame for this chasm is being heaped on traditional churches. They are accused of having too many rules as well as being homophobic and bigoted. Yes, we’ve heard those false claims from popular culture in its desperate attempt to keep Christianity imprisoned within the sanctuary walls. But now popular culture is being aided by Christ-professing bedfellows whose message to “coexist,” “tolerate” and “keep out of it” is more marketable to the rising generation of evangelicals. [Emphasis mine]

Yup. We’re just preaching tolerance and coexistence and keeping out of it.

Oh wait. No we’re not. You’re thinking of our more moderate siblings who think gay marriage is sinful but believe in that little line in the constitution about establishments of religion that Jefferson, who wrote it, referred to as creating a wall of separation between church and state.

Those of us on the Christian left do not have a message of coexistence and tolerance with those who disagree with us. We have a message of love for people of other faiths.

Those I know on the left side of Christianity are saying anything but “keep out of it.” The death penalty? War? Marriage equality? Gender equality? Income equality? We mix faith and politics just like we were raised to, quoting verses against the darkness just like we were trained.

But wait, as they say. There’s more.

Desperate for acceptance in a fallen world, many young evangelicals (and some older ones) choose not to take Christ out of the chapel, and so they are unwittingly killing the church’s public witness. [Emphasis mine.]

Rachel Held Evans, I believe, wrote a post that I can’t find about how the culture we millennial post-evangelicals come from is one of Christianity, so “fitting in with the culture” for us would entail belief in inerrancy and voting for Republicans. As I wrote in another post,

Shifting left has made my life harder. My life would be easier if I suddenly realized that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck were right about Jesus, and John Dominic Crossan wasn’t.

“Desperate for acceptance?” No. If I was desperate for acceptance from my culture, the evangelical world I’m from, I would sit down and shut up about my faith like you claim we’re telling people to do to be accepted in the world.

I assure you, calling for more funding for welfare and less for the US military doth not acceptance bring, neither from the world nor from the evangelical subculture. I say this from experience.


Our Charisma writer goes on. Where did we go wrong? Didn’t we train up our children in the way they should go? She writes,

The millennial generation’s susceptibility to “feel-good” doctrine is playing a big part in America’s moral decline.

I suppose you would endorse a feel-bad doctrine, Chelsen? I see what you’re about, and I’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s “feel-good” to decide that God is too righteous to do some of the heinous things the Bible says God did. It makes us feel good to stop telling our conscience to shut up and finally trust our conscience over the Bible. (It does, but it also doesn’t. There’s something wonderful about having a book that can tell you infallibly what to think.)

It makes us feel good to trust Christ to tell us who God is, rather than Moses. If we wanted Moses to have the final word on who God is, we could be Jewish, thanks. (Though, to be fair, I’m pretty sure Jews don’t think Moses had the final word on who God is.)

And check this out:

If we never talk about abortion in church, how can we expect the rising evangelical girl to calmly explain the option of adoption to her frightened best friend who just admitted she is pregnant?

Lord have mercy. Because everyone knows evangelicals never talk about abortion in church. Like ever.

Oh wait. Did I say “talk?” I meant “shut up.” Evangelicals never shut up about abortion in church. Chelsen, that ain’t the problem. Neither is this:

In order to safeguard the trajectory of young evangelicals, we must uphold the authoritative Word of God.

Which is to say, “The problem we’re having isn’t caused by what we’re already doing. The problem is caused because we’re not doing it enough, even though we basically do it 24/7.”


What the author of this article utterly fails to realize is that we millennials who have taken a turn for the left didn’t do it because we wanted to fit in with the culture. We didn’t do it because we hadn’t thought really hard about our faith. It wasn’t for a lack of proper training to engage in the culture wars. It’s not even because we’re couch potatoes, as she suggests elsewhere in the post.

We didn’t surrender the culture wars.

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We joined the other side.

We joined the other side because we came to believe, based on our understanding of Jesus which was very well-informed, that God was okay with same-sex marriage, wasn’t a fan of violence or genocide, and had nothing against women in leadership, in any context.

We were not wishy-washy. We were not ill-informed. We were not biblically illiterate. My parents had hour-long devotions every night of my childhood. We were trained to think hard about our faith, to engage our faith in our daily lives.

We are not the mamby-pamby, “The culture wars just got too dang hard and we got tired and gave up” mushy apathetic wusses you portray us to be. We’re not weak-minded or weak-faithed.

We made choices. We thought about them carefully. We prayed about them. We were raised in Sunday School and spent at least an hour of our lives every week in church. Many of us still do. We accepted Jesus. And then we learned something the broke our worldview.

We didn’t stop fighting the culture war.

We just switched sides.


On the bright side, the Charisma article provided no substance for the clickbaityness it pledged us. There was no mention of what the author thinks the gospel is, which is becoming a theme, nor a hint of how the New Christian Left is distorting it. In that, I was disappointed.

David M Schell About David M Schell
David M. Schell is a doubter, a believer, and a skeptic. He writes about God and stuff. He is happily married to Kristen, and that's why his posts don't come out as often or as angry.

  • We switched sides. Exactly.

    And the “changed because it’s easy” argument always frustrates me. I mean, the fear of rejection that’s come with my change has been strong enough to trigger my PTSD. It’s anything but easy…but worth it, I hope. Because I changed because I wanted to better love Jesus and the people He created.

  • Excellent post, David. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Angie Gogerty Fillingame

    Wonderful! As a “middle-aged” progressive Christian I can vouch for it not being easy, all the “church people” of my generation expect me to be like them…NOPE! can’t do it….the best way I have to describe the millenials and other progressives is to refer to the scales of tradition and fundamentalism dropping from their/our eyes.

  • Great post!! It is not at all easy to be on the left side of all this. There’s a truckload of judgement and nagging (much like the kind found in the post that inspired this one) and condemnation that comes from living on THE LOVE SIDE and believing that Jesus did the same.

    I, thank God, belong to a church that lives on the love side, and lets women like me in leadership roles. Women who have had abortions, been drug addicts, been strippers, and who have run as far away from God as possible not realizing – thanks to people on the other side – that God’s message is actually one of immeasurable love, acceptance, and grace.

    Our senior pastor gave a message just a couple weeks ago about homosexuality and gay marriage. He told the staff ahead of time that there might be groups who catch wind of this and, not knowing what his message would be saying, rally against it. He said that if that happens, we invite every last one of them inside, we give them water (it was a hot day) and ask them to join us for pizza lunch. His message was astounding. I was in tears and blown away by his and our church’s love for a people group that so many other churches condemn. I was reminded that there is a movement – made up of millennials and middle-agers alike – that works from a gospel of unconditional love, JUST AS WE ARE CALLED TO.

    • THAT’S AMAZING!
      Yes, I know. Capslock means shouting. I meant to shout 😀

  • Timber St. James

    Bit of a rant incoming. TL;DR: hate is bad, no matter the “side.”

    *

    See, it’s the “sides” issue that is troublesome. It’s too often us/them, black/white, either/or. I didn’t decide to switch to “the other side,” I decided to be done with evangelicalism.

    No no, not just fundamentalist Christianity, I’m done with polarizing crap like hardcore global warmism, feminism+misandry, hating gays, or hating the people who hate gays. Many of my friends who escaped the fundamentalist Christian side of the equation (as they perceive it) how now pendulumed (new word) to the “other side” but KEPT the same level of hate/evangelicalism. Better not question the religion du jour, or else you’re one of them.

    It’s frustrating. It’s like we are willing to do ANYTHING to defend against truly positive change and growth. Even switch “sides.”

    Just because a person is hateful against different people now doesn’t mean they’ve grown as a person.

    I mentioned this to one of my otherwise caring lesbian/atheist friends. She’d gotten into the habit of posting dumb-dumb pop-culture misandrist crap about men on her Tumblr, and I called her out. She didn’t talk to me again for days.

    THEN, lovely girl that she is, she got back in touch and apologized profusely. That’s the real deal. (Then we went back to emailing Tumblr porn like normal adults, because, happy day, we both share the same preference!)

    • I have to agree with you there. I’m aware, somewhere deep inside, that I probably have a little fundamentalist screaming “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY” and “IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME YOU’RE WRONG, AND HOW DARE YOU BE.” I do try to keep focused on the Kingdom of God, but I’ve found from my experience that those trying to enact the Kingdom of God tend to be found more on the left than on the right. That’s not necessarily true, but it’s been my experience.

      I agree, there are loud-mouthed people screaming “HOW DARE YOU” on both sides, and occasionally I give in to the temptation to be one of those people. I prefer civil conversation, except when I don’t. I remembered this morning that I’m 1/4 Irish, and if it weren’t for the fundamentalism, I would totally blame my Irish quarter for my occasional outbursts. (I’m also half-Swiss, so thus the even-keeled a good portion of the time-ness).

      I’m going to seminary starting this summer. I’m in a weird position: I’m passionate and believe that’s important, but I also want to be more mellow, and that’s what I’m hoping for from seminary – to be less partisan and more gracious without losing my “edge.”

      Basically, I want to eat my cake and have it too.

      • Timber St. James

        “Basically, I want to eat my cake and have it, too.”
        LOL, so you are indeed a millennial. (Full disclosure: I am, too.)

        I like to tell other recovering homeschool/fundy kids, and my wife (who’s heard all my brilliant rants more than once): it’s not that I don’t believe in God anymore, now I just blame Him for way less.
        Seems like hate is sort of the default emotion that kept tribes localized and united back in our semi-monkey days. Everyone stayed safer. Genetic biodiversity occurred through mutually-arranged exchanges between tribes. Now we can mix genes much more easily (Tinder, woot!) and the hate part isn’t as useful.

        • Timber St. James

          And can I just mention that Switzerland is a freaking amazing place. It’s pricey as hell, but so clean and organized.

          Geneva is beautiful, food is amazing, but my money is on Zurich.

          I’ll retire there if I have enough money (my grandpa lives between Geneva and Lyon, somehow).

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