Monday, March 16, 2009

Justin Timberlake and the seeds of the LOGOS

Justin Martyr once described Plato as a “Christian” who had some intuitive pre-revelation of the divine LOGOS in Christ (McDermott, 2007:93). He reasoned that if Christ is the Logos who lights up the whole world, then there must be “seeds” of ultimate divine reason or the LOGOS of God scattered in many non-Jewish or non-Christian cultures (of course, this was before there actually existed a “Christian” culture, properly speaking – at the time there was only a growing Christian subculture within Hellenistic and Roman paganism).

Nearly ten years ago, in August of 2001—a very traumatic year as you might remember-I stopped over at my friend Steve Humble’s house to speak at his church. Steve treated me to my first exposure to the FIRST LOVE videos that document the testimonies of most of pioneers of early “Jesus” movement music. Worship, music and testimonies from such musicians as Honeytree, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Chuck Girard and Love Song, Terry Clark, Randy Matthews and Randy Stonehill, and Keith Green posthumously were deeply inspiring and helped me to reconnect with my own “first love” in the months around my visit to Steve. I had listened many of those albums back in the early to mid-seventies. Long Song was the very first Christian worship band I had every been exposed to. At that time John Meadows had an afro and was organizing live Christian rock concerts in Ohio. I attended the one he did with Andre Crouch. (Ok … hang with here, I am going to make point in a moment).

Over the last ten years, I watched the FIRST LOVE videos probably a dozen times, not only for the worship, and the encouragement about loving Jesus, but also with a weeping longing to see the divine initiative of the Spirit again in a new generation that is very lost.

I also used the video’s analytically, as a way of getting at primary oral histories of the beginnings of the Jesus movement (I didn’t realize that was what I was doing until I got into the methods class in the history department).

Here are a couple of facts about the pioneers of the Jesus movement:

LOVE SONG wrote a lot of their much of their best “spiritual” music of devotion to God and Jesus BEFORE they became Christians. After they were initially baptized, they went out and got “high” to celebrate.

Keith Green was writing devotional music to God BEFORE he was a Christian, while he was still a secular Jew. In the interview, Melody Green reads from his journal about his passion for God months before his official conversion.

The same kind of testimony is shared repeatedly by artist after artist. Only three of the pioneers out of nearly twenty, were raised as Christians, and they were not the prime movers of the early Jesus movement music.

Conclusion: Most of the impetus for the Jesus movement came through the activity of the Spirit working through marginalized secular young people who were desperate. After they were already tracking along with the Spirit, they became involved with Calvary Chapel or The FourSquare church and some with the discipleship movement, and others later with the Vineyard. A separate discussion would be to look at the fruit of these "church" movements today and to ask oneself if the discipling they received was a good thing or not so good.

My point:

If another "Jesus" movement is ever to come to those young people born after 1982 (and there is some sociological support for this generation to be a strong and activist generation: See Strauss and Howe, 1992), it will not likely originate within the church. It will originate with the initiative of the Spirit OUTSIDE the walls among hurting, lost and desperate kids.

check out this Youtube video by a rapper named T.I. and Justin Timberlake

I discern the activity and the LOGOS of the Spirit speaking through their song, “Dead and Gone” amidst some really bad words by our evangelical baby boomer sensitivities. I think the Spirit is already moving in the hip hop generation in a similar fashion to what He did in 1968-1971 in the hippie movement. The question is, do we have the “ears to hear” through young people who may be as offensive to us, as the long-haired hippies were offensive to our parents generation? (I was one of them). Are they doctrinally correct? Highly unlikely. Is the Spirit moving in them? I really think so. You may disagree with me.

Second question: If this is true, how will we disciple them? (assuming they give us an opportunity). Will we raise up some new Calvary Chapels? Or can we do better than that? Even more important, how can we connect with those rappers and gangsters (vampire and tribal people?) in whom the Spirit is already at work so that we EVEN HAVE A CHANCE to offer some discipleship? Hint: it won’t happen at church on Sunday morning.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Frog in the kettle continues to boil....

More Americans say they have no religion

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll, Ap Religion Writer – Mon Mar 9, 12:14 am ET

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

"No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state," the study's authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren't Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.