J.W. Smurr: Enough of this ‘New Age’ church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Posted December 31, 2007 at 5:17 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Cennydd wrote:

J.W., truer words have seldom been spoken!

December 31, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
2. John Wilkins wrote:

It would be interesting if this were a young man.  Unfortunately, it just sounds like a huge generation gap.

December 31, 9:15 pm | [comment link]
3. robroy wrote:

Generation gap? Is that why the average age on an Episcopalian is somewhere between “over the hill” and “older than dirt”?

December 31, 9:39 pm | [comment link]
4. MJD_NV wrote:

Amen, Mr. Smurr!  Preach it, brother!
Signed - a Gen Xer

December 31, 10:00 pm | [comment link]
5. libraryjim wrote:

Sometimes one has to have the benefit of age to tell it like it is—with the benefit of hindsight and wisdom of age behind it.  And this one gets it right on target.

December 31, 10:16 pm | [comment link]
6. John Wilkins wrote:

The church adjusted its theology, but not its technology or music.

December 31, 10:18 pm | [comment link]
7. Philip Snyder wrote:

According to the Articles of Religion, the Church is at liberty to adjust its technology and music.  It is not at liberty to adjust its fundamental theology.  ISTM that TECUSA adjusted the wrong things.

Phil Snyder

December 31, 10:25 pm | [comment link]
8. ElaineF. wrote:

Here!  Here!  And enough of this “New Age” age, while we’re at it!
It’s time to breach the walls of the post-secular age!

December 31, 10:41 pm | [comment link]
9. Florida Anglican [Support Israel] wrote:

John Wilkins,

When did you stop respecting your elders, what they have to say and the benefit of their experience?  I am not quite 40 and I work in a retirement home.  I facilitate the Bible study there and have learned soooooo much more from the residents (from diverse denominations) than I could ever hope to impart to them.  I am so sad for you that you cannot see the wisdom of J. W. Smurr’s words.  Even if you don’t agree with those words, some respect is warranted.  But then again, people on your side of the divide only value your own experience and feelings, right?

December 31, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
10. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “According to the Articles of Religion . . . “

Religion, Schmeligion!  Scripture, Schmipture.  Doctrine, Schloctrine!!!

We really really hip and YOUNG Baby Boomers don’t want to believe all of those OLD Ancient Thingys, that only OLD people believe.  We only believe really really really Current, Noveau, and Post-post-post-post modern Thingys . . . cause we’re really YOUNG.

And Cool. 

And Very Current.  We Change with the times.  And we think all of you Old Rigid people need to read “Who Moved My Cheese” and learn to Accept Change.

And we’re certainly Not Old.


. . . Yeh . . . it’s definitely a generation gap.


the gen-Xer

January 1, 12:46 am | [comment link]
11. nochurchhome wrote:

I agree ENOUGH ALREADY, I want my church back. Great article
J. W. Smurr.
-signed a 30-something

January 1, 12:45 pm | [comment link]
12. Timothy Fountain wrote:

Sarah #10 - Ouch! LOL.  Ouch!  ROFL.  Ouch! &c;.
A baby boomer trying to take that off and put on Christ.

January 1, 12:45 pm | [comment link]
13. nochurchhome wrote:

We only believe really really really Current, Noveau, and Post-post-post-post modern Thingys . . . cause we’re really YOUNG.
I thought it was because they were really, really, really intellectual.

January 1, 12:59 pm | [comment link]
14. Jeffersonian wrote:

Dang hippies.

January 1, 1:15 pm | [comment link]
15. Athanasius Returns wrote:

#6, Mr. Wilkins,

Please define your use of the term, “the church”.  Thanks.

Ah, how the enlightened ones, come down from their unscalable mountains, love to lecture, from the unquestionably authoritative standpoint of pure Zeitgeist, us lowly Biblical dolts. I’ll climb back into my dark cave now.

January 1, 1:57 pm | [comment link]
16. libraryjim wrote:

Strangely enough, at the Episcopal chapel at FSU and other churches here in Tallahassee, it’s the YOUNG Christians who are calling for the Church to be faithful to the Bible and traditional Christianity, and want the service to reflect the traditional liturgy!

One chaplain even left FSU’s chapel because he couldn’t get the students to agree to his ‘innovative liturgy’.

January 1, 2:12 pm | [comment link]
17. ElaineF. wrote:

Libraryjim -

Do you think it’s because the Young Christians have seen and lived the moral decay in our culture while the “hip” churches stood on the sidelines watching the parade and sometimes cheering?

January 1, 2:36 pm | [comment link]
18. Wilfred wrote:

Mr Smurr, I feel your pain.  Which is why, a few years ago, I was as blue as, well, a smurf. 

But no more, having discovered Holy Orthodoxy.

January 1, 3:37 pm | [comment link]
19. nochurchhome wrote:

Strangely enough, at the Episcopal chapel at FSU and other churches here in Tallahassee, it’s the YOUNG Christians who are calling for the Church to be faithful to the Bible and traditional Christianity, and want the service to reflect the traditional liturgy
That is me to a tee.  I want to be faithful to the bible and traditional Christianity and want the traditional liturgy and sacraments.  Only I’m not college age, somewhere in my 30’s with a husband and a 4 year old.

Any priests and/or bishops reading…...THIS IS WHAT WE WANT!  This is how you can grow your church and fill it with people, babies and teenagers and make it vibrant again.

January 1, 3:42 pm | [comment link]
20. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “I thought it was because they were really, really, really intellectual.”

Yeh, that too! 

And we’re YOUNG—and . . . NEW.  Only NEW things are really really really intellectual anyway!!!


; > )

January 1, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
21. Bob G+ wrote:

libraryjim (#16) -
While it is true that younger people seem to be drawn to that which is ancient, Scripture, traditional liturgies, and much that does drive many in the Baby Boomer generation crazy, there needs to be caution in assuming that they then have an Evangelical, Modernist mind-set.  They don’t.  Yes, they are drawn to traditional forms of the faith and long to see authenticity in our living out of the faith as free of hypocrisy as possible, but they are also repulsed by much of what passes for Conservative and Liberal Christianity in this country.

Take a look at “unChristian” by the Barna Research group to get a good glimpse of how the general populations views Christians.

January 1, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
22. nochurchhome wrote:

Its no wonder they are repulsed, look at how the church behaves.

In my view, as a Buster, the church has let people down and broken trust.  We see this very prevalent in business and politics, but yes, even the church wasn’t immune from it.  We have seen abuse scandals, cover-ups, money and donations stolen by clergy, lies, etc.  It seems to me that it is very hard to find an honorable, trust worthy person around.  They no longer seem to exist in politics, business nor the church. But it was especially painful to see it no longer exist in the church.  I no longer trust a person just because they wear a collar or a police uniform or a business suit or a military uniform or because they are a teacher etc..  We view things/people more skeptically now.  (Just to note I included my profession and my husband’s in that list, I’m not picking on any particular group). It seems like honor, loyalty, trustworthiness and good character are becoming more and more difficult to find in people today.

Many interviewed felt the christians were too narrow minded and not accepting of other people and other lifestyles.  They viewed the institution badly.  This is where I depart.  I find it interesting that the targeted age range was 16-29, the predominate age of the children of the boomers and they seem to have a negative view on the church, believing that it no longer represents what Jesus had in mind and lacks compassion and care.

Although I understand the feeling of being let down by the church/christians, I still have free will to make a choice.  I understand the church will never be perfect as it is run by humans.  It doesn’t mean I will turn away from it.  Many times I have felt that I really don’t want anything to do with organized religion any more.  I go to give my daughter a foundation of faith and belief in God.  I go so she will develop the discipline of attending church every Sunday.  I go because in spite of the shortcomings of people I want to continue to worship Jesus and hope that by going regularly I will somehow have my faith restored and renewed on a regular basis.  That is why we are still searching for a church home.

This is nothing new.  People have always criticized the church from the begining of time.  It is a cop out to blame christians.
CS Lewis qoted one as saying something to the effect of…...
“I love Christ, it is the christians I can’t stand.”

Nothing new.

January 1, 7:35 pm | [comment link]
23. libraryjim wrote:


I really, truly, don’t understand your post.  Did I say anything about modernist mind-set? And what IS that anyway in relation to what I posted?

Yes, Those young people I have met at the university and in High Schools are looking for authentic, full-Gospel Christianity, and while they tend to shun the ‘liberal/conservative’ labels, are indeed, more evangelical minded, and finding what they are seeking in traditional liturgical settings where the Gospel is preached in fullness.

Christianity Today has done many articles over the past few years speaking of the resurgence of liturgical forms of worship among Protestant Chrisitans, young and old, from the Liturgy of the Hours to the chants of Taizé. 

It is indeed the expressions of ancient Christianity that are calling the loudest in these hectic times.  And that includes Orthodox understandings of the scripture and its authority in our lives.

Those who are in the Young adult group at St. Peter’s, Holy Cross, etc.  makes me very hopeful for the future of liturgical, Christian Faith in this era. 

I don’t know why you have to ‘denigrate’ this search, but I’m glad for it.

January 1, 7:38 pm | [comment link]
24. Bob G+ wrote:

(#23) libraryjim -
Oh, I’m not at all “denigrating” this search.  In fact, I’m quite excited about it.  I’m one of those people.  I, too, am excited by the future of liturgical, Christian faith.  US News and World Report also has an interesting article on this subject in the current issue - as a matter of fact, it is the cover story. 

I was commenting more specifically on your statement, “it’s the YOUNG Christians who are calling for the Church to be faithful to the Bible and traditional Christianity.”  It depends on how one wants to define “faithful to the Bible” and “traditional Christianity.”  If being “faithful to the Bible” means _first_ having to consent to an American-Evangelical, inerrantist view or a specifically Calvinist, Arminian, or other perspective, then no this does not describe the preponderance of younger folks who are drawn to liturgy or traditional forms of the faith.  Their perspective, coming from a Post-Modernist viewpoint, is that we can be faithful to the Bible and still disagree on many interpretative perspectives of Scripture, including such hot-button issues as homosexuality.  Faithfulness to the Bible shouldn’t be understood among this generation as meaning that they demand adherence to an American-Evangelical (or any specific) interpretative structure.

I spent most of my life in American-Evangelicalism and know many who still are.  Too many people in that group look at the resurgence in interest of liturgy and ancient forms among younger folks as a validation of their ideology and theological perspective - which is tied up in Modernist philosophical perspectives.  Younger folks are Post-Moderns, and while the interest in liturgy and ancient forms and a seriousness about our faith, they also do not think like most American-Evangelicals. 

I’m just saying that there needs to be good understanding of what is going on under the surface, and too many Americans don’t do that! If we don’t have a clear picture, Anglicanism will lose out on this resurgence to other groups. Read the book “unChristian” by Barna Research to get a better picture of what I’m talking about.

January 4, 9:16 am | [comment link]
25. libraryjim wrote:

Ah. Well, the young people to which I refered are not “post-modernist’ in any way, shape or form, despite the attempts by the university to form them this way.  The adherance of the Bible of which I speak is the traditional, orthodox interpretation and teaching, as evidenced by Alpha, C. S. Lewis, and others who hold the Bible inspired and the moral teachings relevant.

January 4, 12:55 pm | [comment link]
26. libraryjim wrote:

By the way, I don’t hold to the American-Evangelical view either, but to the Catholic/Orthodox view of the Bible, as first among revelations, the measure by which all other revelations must be judged, as taught through the centuries.

January 4, 12:57 pm | [comment link]
27. Alice Linsley wrote:

I love this! God bless you, Mr. Smurr.

Were Thomas Cranmer alive today, he would be more at home in Orthodoxy than in the Church of England.

January 4, 11:23 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): Chicago’s Episcopal Church of the Mediator closes doors after 129 years

Previous entry (below): From the Hartford Courant: Leaving A Church Behind

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)