Our New Millennium -- By: L. Russ Bush
CAJ 2:1 (Spring 1999) p. 1
Our New Millennium
Academic Vice President/Dean of the Faculty
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
A Commencement Address
Delivered May 9, 1998
Southern Evangelical Seminary
There has never been a time like this! One could make that claim at any moment in history, for there is a uniqueness to every time. Our time, however, stands apart in several especially relevant ways.
Never before has the planet hosted so many people. The demand for food, shelter, transportation, and energy is at unprecedented levels. People today travel vast distances in short time spans. Life today bears little resemblance to that of any previous generation. For example, and in many ways this is an essential mark of the contemporary era, the collection and distribution of information is no longer controlled by the print media. Electronic information is a swirling mass of light and sound coded to human consciousness, and it assaults our senses almost constantly throughout the day and night.
We have electronic encyclopedias, electronic Bible concordances and reference tools, virtually instantaneous communication world-wide, and seemingly an international mania for elaborate fantasy in the form of multi-media entertainment (whether on the big screen or the small). Yet other than for a few Web pages here and there, the contemporary Evangelical church remains isolated as a haven of tradition. People normally come out of their world in order to attend church. To the extent that “their world” is one of fantasy and illusion, materialism and secularism, relativism and new age spiritualism, it is probably a good thing that they come out of it and encounter the real world at church.
Once in a while a pastor will decide to “bring the church up-to-date,” and he will inaugurate a new style of church, one supposedly designed to reach modern people. For example, our “new church” will be less confrontational, less structured, more flexible, more sensitive, and especially more contemporary.
Contemporary worship is less liturgical but more dramatic. Contemporary preaching is less oratorical and more conversational. Contemporary singing is less the harmonious recitation of theological poetry and more the musical repetition of simple praises.
So is this good or bad? Probably it is some of both, but that is not the point of this address. Whether we worship in contemporary or traditional styles is not the focus of this address. The fact that this massive cultural change is real, however, must strike us as worthy of some
CAJ 2:1 (Spring 1999) p. 2
attention. Those wh...
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