Can you guess who said the following?
“Hostile to the church, friendly to Jesus Christ.” These words describe large numbers of people, especially young people, today.
They are opposed to anything which savours of institutionalism. They detest the establishment and its entrenched privileges. And they reject the church—not without some justification—because they regard it as impossibly corrupted by such evils.
Yet what they have rejected is the contemporary church, not Jesus Christ himself. It is precisely because they see a contradiction between the founder of Christianity and the current state of the church he founded that they are so critical and aloof. The person and teaching of Jesus have not lost their appeal, however. For one thing, he was himself an antiestablishment figure, and some of his words had revolutionary overtones. His ideals appear to have been incorruptible. He breathed love and peace wherever he went. And, for another thing, he invariable practiced what he preached.
Dan Kimball wrote a book entitled They Like Jesus But Not The Church, but he was not the one who said these words. It sounds a little like Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Erwin McManus, or maybe a quote from George Barna’s book Revolution… but it wasn’t any of them.
The quote above comes from the Preface to John R.W. Stott’s Basic Christianity written back in 1958. I re-read the book last weekend and was reminded that the current emerging church environment isn’t without precedent. I know that there are very real differences between “then” and “now” but still think that we have a lot to learn from those who have trod similar paths in previous generations.
As an old guy who spends a great deal of time with twentysomethings, I think that our nextgen folk are not so postmodern as the emergent folk would have us believe. They have found a marketing niche which works for them, but that does not mean that some of the older voices speaking into culture are passé. I think that Stott’s Basic Christianity still has much to offer and that any of the following would be well received by most young Christ followers.
True Christianity, by Francis Schaeffer
Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis
Growing In Christ, by J. I. Packer
Desiring God, by John Piper
Long Journey Home, by Os Guiness
The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, by Andrew Murray
The Best Things In Life, by Peter Kreeft
… and even
Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards
Can you share some older titles, or older authors, that you think speak to the questions being asked by the emergent types?