Are We Doing Worse than Our Parents?

During the time I was growing up, it was common for young people to openly reject the values and teachings of their parents. The feeling was that parents had made a mess of the world, and (given the chance) our generation could do much better. In large part, the arrogance of my generation continues today. This, despite the fact that after many years in our hands, the social, political, and moral affairs of our nation continue in a downward spiral. The words of Proverbs 30:11-13 seem so apropos: “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation; oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.”

Anything that has widespread impact in a society usually impacts churches within that society as well. And so, as they came of age representatives of my generation began to deplore how their fathers had been handling affairs in the churches. The “traditional” order of worship was one subject frequently discussed. Things needed to be changed! We could do better! We can make it so much more uplifting!

Dissatisfaction was also expressed about other things, particularly the way the previous generation had handled controversy, both with denominations and within the church. Lines had been drawn in bold. Those who would not teach God’s plan of salvation were not fellowshipped. Churches of Christ were separated from one another based on whether they would or would not support human institutions with church funds. To some of my generation, this all seemed so unnecessary. We would have done it differently! We would have worked things out!

Time has come and gone. My generation is having its turn at the controls. Here’s what some are doing: They’re improving worship by turning it into an entertainment event, complete with musical and dramatic performances, hand clapping, and motivational speeches based on the current pop psychology. They’re solving the problem of fellowship with denominations by declaring that baptism is not essential to salvation. They’re fixing the controversy over institutionalism by advocating that every church do its own thing in supporting human institutions. In short, they’re simply ignoring what God has said about these issues in His book. “And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me” (Jeremiah 16:12).