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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a postmodern solution, June 24, 2003
This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
This book is a great resource and is loaded with a ton of valuable food for thought, but I cannot quite recommend it wholeheartedly without a few minor reservations.
I found many of the ideas expressed by the author and those he has interviewed and learned from to be not only refreshing but at times very moving. Most notable would be the notion that the church is supposed to be "incarnational", that is, the church is Body of Christ, the presence of Christ in the world - therefore the best apologetic is seeing people living truly and honestly under the rule of God in this life, in true community and service.
The author's main premise is that Evangelicalism has moved through three phases in the last few generations. The traditionalist phase exalted reason and doctrinal correctness above all else. The Pragmatic Phase emphasized felt needs and marketing strategies to make faith relevant and accessible to seekers. But the Younger evangelicals have turned toward "authenticity" and away from rationalistic or pragmatic approaches, seeking a God who is beyond rational definitions. They wish to communicate the faith by embodying the teaching of Christ, rather than articulating principles or programs.
The way many young evangelicals (as well as many in mainline protestant denominations and Catholic and Orthodox believers) have adapted to Postmodern thought can be both heartening and frightening. On the one hand, the recognition that rationalism has infiltrated the church is undeniable and worth correcting. Not only have liberal theologians applied naturalism to scripture in a way that removed the supernatural from faith, but conservatives have applied the scientific method to biblical interpretation to the point where individual interpretation reigns. The Holy Spirit and the consensual interpretation of the rest of the church have been ignored or rejected altogether. Rationalism has also led many in the church growth movement to embrace marketing strategies at the expense of authenticity and perhaps biblical fidelity, a plastic notion postmodern evangelicals are rejecting.
The answer many from various denominational backgrounds are embracing is one that says that the Holy Spirit grants truth to the community of the faithful, so that there is solid footing in finding the common shared beliefs of Christians in various cultures and various time periods. Younger Evangelicals look particularly to the early church prior to Constantine. They are more open to embracing the historic creeds, communication of faith through symbols and sacraments and are less arrogant about finer points of non-essential doctrines. Thus they are quicker to strike alliances across denominational lines and more open to dialog with Catholic and Orthodox believers. And they are willing to use radical hi-tech methods to communicate timeless truths.
The one cause for pause is that many in the postmodern Christian movement (some of whom are quoted in this volume) seem to embrace a bit too uncritically many of the dangerous assumptions of the postmodern fringe. They are quick to assert that "foundationalism" is inadequate in and of itself, and to point out that the church has been unduly influenced by modernism, but fail to see that in many ways they are failing to judge postmodern thinking in light of a Biblical worldview and are quickly allowing postmodern thought to unduly influence their own view of church. They are in the prison house of their own words. So they criticize the previous generation for conforming to the spirit of the rationalistic age, but freely embrace the spirit of the mystical age in which they live. They insist that truth is not "propositional" but must use propositions to make that very case.
In rejecting rationalism, many seem to throw out rationality as well. For example, Webber documents the shift from evidential apologetics to incarnational apologetics, which is a shift that has some merit. But is it necessarily true that all evidential apologetics is hopelessly enmeshed in "modernism"? Because modernism failed to find answers to metaphysical questions, does that mean that satellites will all fall from the sky and the laws of physics and engineering no longer have value? Is the resurrection not historically defensible? If "evidential" apologetics is really passe' and naive, shall we reject Paul and Luke as modernists because Paul argued from evidence and Luke cited eyewitness accounts and "many infallible proofs"? Are all of evangelical scholarship and apologetics of the last 100 years worthless?
The problem with much of the church's response to postmodern thinking is that many of the analysts of this thought wrongly assume that the only alternative to fading modernism is wholeheartedly embracing emerging postmodernism. The truth is, a Biblical worldview preceded both, and allowed for genuine rationality and appeal to evidence, tempered with the truth that humans are finite, fallen and need the grace of the Holy Spirit to ultimately make sense of it all. There are hints of such a third alternative in Webbers book particularly in the later chapters.
The chapters on youth ministry and worship are excellent and provocative. The many charts that end each chapter of this book are worth the price themselves. If Younger Evangelicals can speak to the anti-Modern generation in new ways, re-establish the church as a true reflection of Christ on Earth without succumbing to total mysticism and irrationality, then the future could look very bright. I loved almost everything about this book - almost.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart Freshly Stirred, But Read With Discernment, April 11, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
I highly recommend "The Younger Evangelicals." Dr. Webber has portrayed a stunning mosaic of what God is freshly stirring in many hearts today. God is moving many with a fresh desire for a church community that knows each other well enough to have authentic relationships. We see ourselves as a people of God's Presence with our corporate life as "mission," something we are and not just something we do. We don't just want to hear the wonderful stories in Scripture, but we want to experience them so that His story intersects our personal stories. We desire to share Jesus with others in our sphere of influence in natural, non-religious ways, living out the Good News and not just verbalizing it. A new leadership is developing with servants becoming participative leaders, a team without any abdication of healthy leadership. Dr. Webber threads this fresh move of God throughout "The Younger Evangelicals" in a way that stirs a, "Yes, Lord!" from within.
What concerns me, however, is HOW this mature man of God encourages these younger leaders to find the answer. First, his book seems to imply that the norm today is to leave the established church and start a new church plant from scratch. There's nothing wrong with that as an option, but the existing church also needs these impulses. Many of his arguments describing the established church set up the mega church as the "straw man." The mega church is only one expression of the church, and certainly has built-in problems when the goal is a relational community of believers. Second, candles, incense, icons, silent retreats, etc. are the methods that I see salted throughout the book. Methods could have been communicated in a way that heal the gap with the existing church instead of intensifying it (for instance, use "an intimate devotional time with Jesus" instead of Lectio Divina). I'm concerned that this book may splinter the western church even more by encouraging younger evangelicals to embrace outward methods that isolate them from the present church life. Third, I also believe God is after something much more central and essential than new methods. The Lord of glory wants us to change the way we experience Him and each other. Only out of this radical change in our theology can we discover new, fresh methods (if needed) to experience this new life.
I want to commend Dr. Webber for his excellent insight into this fresh move of God and for his heart to follow Him without compromise. But please read "The Younger Evangelicals" with discernment and eat the meat and spit out the bones. Younger evangelicals, please don't separate yourselves from the existing church. We need your energy and fresh way of looking at the Kingdom. Older evangelicals, don't marginalize younger evangelicals because some of the ways in which they express themselves threaten the existing order. Change may be threatening, but it's Kingdom. Younger evangelicals need mature mentors, and mentors need fresh expressions of the life of Jesus to continue to challenge them as lifelong learners. My plea is to dialog and learn from each other because we desperately need one another (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book if you are over 30, December 5, 2002
By 
Keith Drury (Marion, IN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
If you are under age 30 stop reading here-and go read something else. However, if you are over 30-especially if you are in my own "boomer" generation, this is probably the most important column I'll write this year.
There is a book you need to buy. No, it isn't one of my own books-I don't use the Tuesday Column to promote books-not even my own. I review them sometimes (but that only makes it easier for you not to buy them-since my reviews are pretty complete.) I'm breaking my own rule today-I found a book every person over 30 interested in church ministries need to own.
This book is about the twentysomthing crowd Well, not exactly them, but about an emerging movement in the church made up of mostly Twentysomethings. That crowd might not like this book because the book tells us boomers all their secrets. In fact they hate being labeled at all, and hate it doubly when Boomers do it. But since they are no longer reading this and are off reading something else by now, let me tell you over-30 folk why this book is so important.
If you are a regular reader of my "Tuesday Columns" you already know I often knock us boomers for our generational arrogance. We think we are so cool, so "contemporary." We think our ways of doing church are so wonderful and we assume we've made something lasting. I often warn us that our churches are headed to becoming "Boomer nursing homes" where we continually congratulate ourselves on how cool we still are, while totally losing the next generations and the world and never noticing!
Finally there is a book that explains what is happening in the massive generational shift. So far there have been bits and pieces here and there, but now Robert Webber has put together a book outlining the secrets of this enormous shift in thinking that involves younger people mostly, but many older folk as well. Using the term "Younger Evangelicals" instead of "post modern or some other silly term, he outlines in chapter 1 the recent history of evangelicalism since 1950 in the most concise way I've seen anywhere-take that Martin Marty! That chapter is worth the first ten dollars of the book's ...price tag. But the rest of the book outlines chapter by chapter the immense shifts in the world under our boomer feet. Most boomers reading this book will feel like they are still leading singing in a "praise team" in a church with mauve carpeting while using colorful sponge covers on their individual microphones. Be careful-this book will make you feelout of date out of touch and out of coolness. If you are a "successful pastor" you'll hate it more-because some of what is happening among the next generation are things you spent ten years overthrowing when you were younger. You'll say, "well, this is only a trend among the younger folk-they'll change eventually" (what they said about us!)
In this book you'll discover in easy to read format how communication has changed, how the view of history has changed, how propositional theology is in total meltdown, how apologetics has shifted, how ecclesiology has shifted shockingly. And you'll find out how the view of the church as a marketed product has shifted, how the role of the pastor-CEO has become laughable, how youth ministry is switching from parties to prayer, [how] education is changing, the new way to see spiritual formation, how worship leadership has shifted, how art is being renewed, how evangelism is altered, and how activism happens in a new way.
Boomers don't have to read this book. We've got our churches going nicely now, we've constructed our cool wraparound-the-stage worship centers and have a good giving base so we can essentially blow of the next generations and the world and happily sing our way into retirement bringing our "sacks of rice on trays" every Sunday. We can survive into retirement singing and preaching to ourselves. A few of our parent's churches did that-they are still around full of "the Greatest generation" wondering what happened in the 1970's that seems to change things. We can do that and survive.
But if we are interested in the enormous shifts that are taking place in our children and their friends-and we seriously want to know why they think the way we do church stinks and they feel compelled to plan "authentic churches" then this book gives away their secrets.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars insightful book on post-contemporary christian leadeship, November 27, 2002
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This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
for many years there were only classes to describe christian leaders and churches -- traditional and contemporary. but many began to feel that there was an emerging third category although they couldn't articulate it. webber has done a good job in describing this third category of churches and leaders alongside traditional and contemporary ones. i found his descriptions right on for the most part from my perspective, especially his insights on why many baby busters are opting out of baby boomer congregations with seeker-friendly services -- they find the staged performances too inauthentic, the high-tech equipment too circus-like for their tastes, which favors a more simple and less fancy format coupled with relationally rich environments and live interaction. twenty and thirty somethings want reality-based church over production-quality church. Gen X pastors lead in low key ways, rather than the high profile super-charged ways boomer pastors tend to. webber points this all out and more in his book. excellent description of what is playing out before us all in churches across america. traditional and boomer pastors should read this book to understand why the younger crowd does not respond to their efforts.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary...and Perhaps scary For Those Over 30, March 18, 2003
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This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
Robert Webber has once again written about what it means to be "postmodern" as opposed to "modern." Only this time, Webber distinguishes among "Traditional Evangelicals" (3 hymns, sermon, etc) and "Pragmatic Evangelicals" ("Contemporary, praise songs) and "Younger Evangelicals." The entire book explains what a Younger Evangelical is, and how these Christians differ from many Christians whose expression of faith is embedded in modernism. At the end of each chapter, Webber has very useful tables that compare the beliefs of each group. For instance, in Chapter 4 (History) the attitudes to historical approach are compared. Traditional Evangelicals "maintain Reformation distinctions," while Pragmatic Evangelicals "start something new; innovate." However, Younger Evangelicals believe, "the future runs through the past."
Younger Evangelicals are more traditional, very arts oriented, sacramental/symbolic, less legalistic, and seek meaning, as opposed to entertainment, from worship. They are leaving "contemporary" churches for ones that are more connected to the ancient Church. They are reading their Bibles in less literal ways, and see room for disagreement on controversial scripture passages, including the creation stories. Younger Evangelicals are more likely to take Eucharist weekly than sit through long sermons, and they seek a visible church, as opposed to an invisible one. In general, many young Christians are unsatisfied with both "traditional" and "contemporary" worship, and prefer a blending of the two, where the rich tradition of the Church is alive, but contextualized for each era.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I do all of Webber's books. Writers like Webber, Thomas Oden, Brian McLaren, and others speak to me as a postmodern Christian. Often Webber's yearnings are my yearnings. His students' concerns are the concerns of many friends of mine, as well as my own. Much of what Younger Evangelicals want is part of the catholic tradition, while evangelicalism, both traditional and contemporary, has been effective at ignoring church history. But it is not just about "going back." It is about rendering the ancient Christian tradition, worship, the Bible, and doctrine in a contextually relevant way. However, rather than change the Church based on culture (as many contemporary churches do to make church "cool"), Younger Evangelicals approach culture, and current humanist disciplines, through the lens of the ancient beliefs and practices of the Church.
If you no longer find meaning in your church, but don't want to give up on Christ, perhaps you are a postmodern in a modern church. Reading this book will be a start to rediscovering Christ in your own era. However, postmodernism is so broad, nobody will agree with *everything* Webber says (that would be rather modernist). For evangelicals under age 30, this book will provide some framework for what you probably already believe, and for people over 30, it might be a bit frightening.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful but left with questions, May 16, 2012
This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
The Younger Evangelicals was a very informative book. The author outlines the younger evangelicals, the emergent/emerging church, and shows how they will lead the Church. He gives a brief background of fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and new evangelicalism before moving into the young evangelicals as thinkers and practitioners. Webber seeks to display the differences found between the traditional, pragmatic and younger evangelicals in each chapter.

Agreement:
I found several elements of Webber's book to be extremely helpful. His charts at the end of each chapter, although very broad, helped me to understand not only the emergent church but also the pragmatic/mega church, and the traditional church. These comparisons clarified his observations in each chapter and allowed me to follow his reasonings.

As I write a response to the book I have to keep one thing in mind, I thoroughly appreciated the book, not because I agree with Webber's conclusions, but because he helped me to understand this new movement. I do not agree with much of what the emergent church holds so dear, and see great harm in many of their modes of worship, beliefs about salvation, denial of truth, and discernment of the the past, however I comprehend the movement better now because of the book.

One thing that I appreciate about the whole movement is their desire to be unified. One idea presented by Mark Driscoll caught my attention. He doesn't endorse Sunday School because he can't see how we are to teach a unified body when we are all split up. I appreciate their pursuit of unity in the body of Christ, causing them to look past race, social status, or age.

Disagreement:
One of the areas where I saw Webber was clearly wrong was in his presentation of the fundamentalist mentality of separation. He portrayed fundamentalists are separatists for separatists sake. He believes that their separation "is understandable, but it came at the expense of the biblical mandate regarding the unity of the church" (pg. 29). Clearly, many churches could be convicted of that very charge for separating over non-separable issues, but I don't believe that it properly represents the idea of true fundamentalism. Proper separation is not done against the unity of the church, but in order to preserve it. Without biblical separation from heresy and those who accept heresy, the church cannot be obedient to Christ. They can still be unified with other disobedient believers, but they are not unified with Christ if they fail to obey. This failure to separate is why some of the younger evangelicals are following the same path which has led many believers astray throughout the centuries.

Another overarching theme which I became very wary of was that of the younger evangelical's embracement and absorption of all that has gone before. It is as if they were saying, "if the church of several hundred years ago did this, then it must be beneficial," failing to realize that many of these ideas they are embracing caused other influential leaders in their ideas to leave the church at that time. An example would be their obsession with icons. It was this form of idolatry which helped to cause the split in the catholic church. They fail to see this as they take whatever suits their experience.

Webber conveyed an interesting salvation experience, one which was oddly lacking any idea of sin or sacrifice (pg. 94). He also presented a distorted view of salvation as he linked it to the preservation of the environment (pg. 89-90). Many of these different beliefs were endorsed throughout the book, helping me to understand the movement better.

Personal App: Overall I appreciated the book as it helped me to understand the younger evangelicals in a better way. However, as I understand their views, I am not sure why we call them evangelicals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hearing from a new generation of evangelicals, April 1, 2010
By 
Darren Cronshaw (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003)

Webber describes how a new generation of leaders are redefining and reexpressing the shape of evangelicalism. Different from traditional evangelicals (strongest post World War II for a few decades) or pragmatic evangelicals (the next few decades of church growth and seeker service focus), these twenty-first century `younger' leaders are seeking to keep ministry up-to-date for our postmodern culture. They have different approaches to communication - with new appreciation for tradition, story and community embodiment of truth, and a desire to move from a market-driven to a missional church. Pastors are moving from power to servanthood, youth pastors from parties to prayer, educators from information to formation, spiritual directors from legalism to freedom, evangelists from rallies to relationships, and artists from constraint to expression. This readable and scholarly work, with helpful summary tables, points toward new paradigms built not on being right in the fundamentalist-liberal arguments, but built on a missional understanding of church, with thoughtful theological reflection, broader spiritual formation and cultural awareness.

Originally reviewed for D Cronshaw "The Emerging Church: Pioneering Leadership and Innovation Reading Guide", Zadok Paper (Forthcoming 2010).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In depth review, February 13, 2008
This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
This is a great book for reviewing the historical progress of Christianity in the United States and gives clarity to the confusing times we live in. I really appreciated the author distilling it down into a somewhat intense read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but outdated analysis, March 12, 2014
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This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
This is an excellent read for identifying generational differences in our churches. However, Webber's assessment of what he dubs the 'Younger Evangelical' and the Postmodern movement is outdated. He made several predictions right at the turn of the century that did not come to fruition as he had anticipated. However, with that in mind, it is still a very helpful guide for understanding the different generations that exist in our churches today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great preparation for seminary, September 5, 2011
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This review is from: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Paperback)
I bought this book as a prerequisite to attending seminary. It was a challenging read, but definitely enlightened me to the church behaviors and attitudes of people born after 1975. I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn about how to approach youth and young adults in the 21st century with regards to church/religion. The author seems to be both knowledgeable and well-educated.
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The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World
The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World by Robert Webber (Paperback - October 1, 2002)
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