On January 11th, readers were given the following assignment:
In “Challenge of Youth” (1974), Professor Friedrich Heer documents and analyzes historically-significant youth movements, from the time of ancient Greece through the hippie era, and concludes that:
“[T]he harsh light of historical fact [is] that every significant youth movement is in its own time crushed by the forces in power, and its spirit frequently perverted or bent to other uses[.]”
It is also interesting to note that Professor Heer identifies the common characteristic among all youth movements as being “the symbolic rejection of the father (authority), and frequent adoption of a new ‘father’…” and references Malachi 4:6 (“…turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers…”) to conclude that “it is the fathers who have the last word.”
As a presuppositionally-Christian youth movement, how do you think the Rebelution differs (or should differ) from the youth movements Professor Heer described?
Over a grueling week and a half, rebelutionaries around the country turned out responses to Professor Heer. Some sent theirs early on. Others sought the middle ground. Still others strategically waited until right before the deadline. Each varied in length and approach, but all contained a common feature. Quality.
Brett and I were thrilled by the submissions we received. In fact, they were all so good that we decided to post more than one. Over the next few days we will be sharing, not only the winning essay, but also the top three runners-up.
Today, without further ado, we present the judge’s selection…
Rebellion vs. Rebelution by Brian
Youth are stereotypically rebellious. Though the social placement of youth has transformed over the years, and may vary between cultures, the blanket generalization about youth is they have a disregard for any authority placed over them. This stereotype certainly cannot define each individual youth, but the interesting thing about stereotypes is that they are always born out of common truth. It is only natural, then, that any movement instigated by and primarily composed of youth would be characterized by rebellion.
Professor Heer states that past youth movements have been “crushed by the forces in power.” Logically, the “forces in power” have always had the advantage because of their prior establishment as the mightiest contender for power. Though these youth movements surely have had visions of greatness, perhaps even practical and workable visions, they have lacked the might to overthrow the reigning authority.
That being said, however, I do not believe that lack of strength is the primary reason for the ultimate failure of any movement, whether youth or otherwise. Rather, perhaps, the failure of past youth movements is primarily due to the corrupted motivation behind the movement itself, the goal of obtaining power to make a vision a reality.
As Christians, members of The Rebelution have a biblical mandate to submit to authority rather than rebel against it. Romans 13:1-2 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” God commands us not to do the very thing youth are so commonly known to do. He commands us to be different; to rebel, in fact, against our own nature. If The Rebelution ever became characterized by rebellion against authority, it would be guilty of a far greater rebellion, that against God Himself.
The Rebelution must define its purpose by Biblical standards and take care never to stray from that vision. We must guard ourselves against the faintest glimmer of desiring power itself because that desire, however small, has the potential to radically alter the goal of The Rebelution and thus destine it to failure. Rather, let us seek to bring change to a hurting world through the testimony of our character, our submission to authority, and our dedication to doing hard things.
1 Peter 2:13-15 says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” God has designed for movements such as The Rebelution to be used for His kingdom, but He accomplishes that glorious work through us by our devotion to doing right. In cultures across the world, doing the right thing is often synonymous with doing the hard thing. We are called to diligently pursue difficult lifestyles for the furtherance of His glorious Gospel.
It is simply by the content of our character that we “may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” It is in their silence that The Rebelution will be able to make itself most clearly heard. In the silence of the world, the voice of the body of Christ will be able to proclaim the message of salvation with a voice so loud that every nation, and every tribe, and every tongue, will know that Christ is Lord. Through character, through submission to authority, and through the power of God, this vision which God has instilled in us can become reality.