Once again, a critique of myself among others:
6. A poverty of critical thinking. I think it’s safe to say that most YRR theology is “adopted” theology. It’s not based on careful, critical thinking, but pragmatism: “Hey, reformed theology is working for such-and-such, so let’s try that!” No YRR would admit to this…Okay, well I will. That’s at least part of what makes it attractive to me. I wonder how many of us will be reformed when it’s not popular anymore. Blogs, tweets and facebook posts are great for conclusions, but not for premises. Full, articulate arguments generally fall between book bindings.
7. The façade of tradition. Why do we regurgitate the same quotes from the same theologians over and over again? Because we’ve never read them ourselves. I’ve heard St. Augustine’s retort to the man who asked him what God was doing before eternity at least 20 times in the last 2 years: “Making hell for questions like that.” But personally reading through the “City of God” this year, I found that St. Augustine was actually saying the exact opposite: Augustine believed anyone who replied that way was giving a sarcastic, unhelpful answer to a serious question. So…why hasn’t any YRR remotely familiar with St. Augustine corrected that little ditty? Because we’ve never read St. Augustine. The great danger of being a YRR is that we’re able to claim standing on the shoulders of giants…based purely on sound bites we’ve heard from others. That is a very conspicuous place to be.
8. Imprecise theological language. Gospel-books, gospel-conferences, gospel-centered-potty-training for your children…But ask a YRR to define the gospel, and you’ll hear something along the lines of “God’s sovereign justification of sinners.” Justification is important, crucial. But it’s a fragment of the richness of the gospel. We throw around terms like “gospel-centered”, “restless and reformed” and “missional” as if we know what they mean. But let’s be honest…most of us don’t.
9. The “Justification by Tribe” mindset. “I follow Paul! I follow Apollos! I follow Driscoll, Piper, Sproul!” No, we follow Jesus. We YRRs have a tendency to “gospelize” our language so others know we’re “in”, and we frown on those who don’t know how to use our language because they’re “out”. We migrate to the Mecca of the Gospel Coalition every year, set the opinions of our leaders on impenetrable glass shelves and show them off as religious tokens. But it’s not a sin to disagree with Tim Keller (gasp!). It IS a sin to replace the thoughts of others with our own careful sifting of scripture. We are not justified by how many points on which we we converge with TGC – we’re justified by Jesus, no matter what “clan” we belong to.
10. Character Issues. A view of God’s sovereignty ought to make us live differently. The problem with us theologians, as Paul Tripp has hammered home in “Dangerous Calling”, is that we mistake theological knowledge for Christian maturity. I think of it this way: theological knowledge is like a big empty cup. The bigger the cup, the more potential for spiritual growth – we have more of God to respond to with our lives. But I see a lot of people with big cups and little water. I also see a lot of folks with little cups overflowing with water. For those of us who love theology, we bear a weighty responsibility, for we are all judged in accordance with the faith given us. If your theology isn’t transforming your life, your in a dangerous, dangerous place.
All this to say: I think the YRR movement will die out. That will be a great thing, because as we become less young and less restless, we’ll become more Christ-like. I think many of us will fall away, as the new fad in church growth takes over. At some point, we’ll think through these issues on our own. We may come to the same conclusions as the big names, we may not.
In the meantime, we need to remember: being “reformed” is dangerous. Committing to continually “reforming” in light of scripture is beautiful. I think a new movement will emerge, but only in response to YRRs who are willing to dig deeper, read more dead people, embrace the mystery of God and rest in Jesus. It may be smaller, it may be less-cool, but it will be faithful. And in that way, it will bring more glory to God.