The Juvenilization of American Christianity

I have been writing mostly about the major events and changes in Christian doctrine and practice over the centuries.  However, there have been significant changes in just the past couple of generations.  Thomas E. Bergler has captured one aspect of these changes in a well-written article for Christianity Today magazine entitled When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity.

I recommend that you read the entire article, which is available at:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/june/when-are-we-going-to-grow-up.html?start=1

Here are some quotes from the article that summarize the main points:

“Beginning in the 1930s and ’40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults.”

“Juvenilization tends to create a self-centered, emotionally driven, and intellectually empty faith.”

“We need to ditch the false belief that cultural forms are neutral. Every enculturation of Christianity highlights some elements of the faith and obscures others.”

This last quote ties us back to the history of Christianity across the ages.  Each cultural group has put its own stamp on Christian expression,  resulting in significant diversity of doctrine and practice.

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2 comments on “The Juvenilization of American Christianity

  1. Joey says:

    This article was mentioned to me by one of my seminary professors, and he stated that it expressed everything he has been thinking and observing about churches for the past several years. When I read the article, I could not have agreed more. Having served in a number of churches, I have observed this juvenile mentality with respect to church music.

  2. rdbiondi1 says:

    Finally, I had a chance to read this entire article. It is a very interesting article. It caused me to think back about 20 years ago when a “ministry team” came to our church to help the youth get “fired-up” about their faith. This group of muscle-heads broke bricks on their chests while lying on a bed of nails, bent steel bars and all sorts of feats, all while sporting t-shirts that stated “God lets ME be ME!” Most of the adults weren’t too impressed, to say the least.

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