A while back, I read a book on millennials titled “the millennials – Connecting to America’s Largest Generation”. At the time, I offered a fairly unimpressed review of the book’s statistically driven conclusions. As I have reflected on last year’s readings, one passage from this book has continued to bothered me. In order to characterize their statistics, the authors/researchers had to define their different groups. One group was titled “Evangelical”. To be part of this group, millennials must:
Be born-again Christians
Agree that the Bible is the accurate, written Word of God
Agree that they personally have the responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs
Agree their religious faith is important in their lives
Agree God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and rules the universe today
Agree salvation is available through grace alone
Disagree Jesus committed sins while on Earth
Disagree that Satan is not a living being but just a symbol of evil
While I may not fully agree with the basis for their categorization, this is not what bothered me. They were upfront and I understand the need for defining groups in the interpretation and assessment of statistical information. What pains me are the conclusions that are drawn from this information. The authors go on to say,
Only 6 percent of Millennials could affirm the statements [defining Evangelical] as written above. Obviously, the representation of true Christians in this generation is small.
This sort of overarching dogmatism angers me. Their own words defeat them. If salvation is “available through grace alone”, but I am not a “true Christian” unless I affirm all of the other statements; it only stands to reason that I can be saved without being a “true Christian” – otherwise salvation is not based on “grace alone.”
No wonder millennials struggle with Christianity. My personal interactions with young people offer great encouragement in that they are very open to the message of the Bible. They just struggle to be associated with religion as they see it played out in books like this one. I believe Jesus feels the same way.