Thursday, May 28, 2009

I was a teenage evangelical

And, truth be told, still am an evangelical. It's a marvelous inheritance, but one of the side-effects - immediately recognizable to fellow evangelicals and perhaps opaque to outsiders - is the dreaded question of "God's will for my life." I have spent the last too many years of my life untying myself from the knots that result from an unhealthy focus on that issue. DeYoung's book is a lucid guide that shows me how it was that I untied the knots I've succeeded in untying, and shows me how to untie the knots that remain.

This anti-self-help book is also a perfect generational compendium to Stuff White People Like. "Some of this is a generational thing," writes DeYoung.
"After all, my peers and I were among the first ones to experience grade inflation, where we got A's for excavating our feelings and 'doing our best' at calculus. We were among the first to be programmed for self-esteem, as we learned that having a pulse made us wonderfully special.... It's no wonder we expect people to affirm us for everything, criticize us for nothing, and pay us for anything we want to do. We figure we should be able to find a great job right out of college in a great location that provides the same standard of living our parents have right now, and involves us in the world's troubles in a way that would make Bono proud. We want it all - all we need is for God to who show us the way...

I wonder if the abundance of opportunities to explore today is doing less to help make well-rounded disciples of Christ and more to help Christians avoid long-term responsibility and have less long-term impact.... Our eagerness to know God's will is probably less indicative of a heart desperately wanting to obey God and more about our heads spinning with all the choices to be made."
Just Do Something is a consistently well-written, desperately needed tonic for evangelical ills. Or, to put that in the Christianese that DeYoung so effectively criticizes: God told me that he wants you to read this book, and if you don't you'll miss his perfect plan and be miserable forever.