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Some of my friends are what I call “angry young theologians.”

They are like Elihu – Job’s young friend (Job 32-37). God does not rebuke Elihu – as He does the other three friends of Job (42:7). This apparently means that God approves of Elihu – or at least, the Elihu has not done wrong by his angry words.

Angry young theologians are…

1. Generally respectful of age. They are aware of their age and often are willing to wait to hear what others say(32:6)

2. Insightful.(32:9) They know there is no necessary correlation between age and wisdom. Witness the silly and inebriated elderly people at the Democratic National Convention last night! Let a young man or woman stand up and say, “enough!

3. Full of words (32:18) They have a lot to say. Of course, succinctness is not the sole domain of the elderly. Listening to Joe Biden makes me want to shout, “get to the point!”

4. Passionate (32:1-6). Sometimes their passion feels like anger: angry at self-righteousness; angry at lovelessness; angry at words when the need calls for action; angry at injustice. They “burn” (32:5). They are impatient with pat answers! Sometimes, in their passion, they cannot contain themselves (32:20) and speak without thinking.

5. God-centered. (Chapters 33-37). They want to return the focus to God rather than man. They are reformed in their theology. They read Piper, Owen, Edwards, Calvin. And, they are expressive in their worship.

They believe God communicates in many ways (chapter 33).

They focus on the justice of God (chapter 34), the grace of God (chapter 35), the strength and sovereignty of God (chapter 36). They say, “behold, God is great in power, justice and abundant righteousness.” (3:23).

They know the fear of the Lord (37:24).

They know the only hope for this sick old world is the return of Christ – and until then – the work of Christ’s ambassadors.

6. Environmentally savvy (Chap 36-37). They are unapologetically green. They know they are stewards of God’s creation.

7. Socially responsible. (Chap 35) They are with the poor and concerned with justice issues. They know how to network with “co-belligerants” – as Francis Schaeffer taught us – in order to serve the poor.

8. They know about brokenness. They’ve come from broken homes, or have seen their friends deal with broken homes. They’ve grown up with AIDS, ADHD, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, domestic violence. They are the product of my generation (self-centered baby boomers).

Elihu does not know the total answer to Job’s suffering. He wants God to be honored, and yet, does not accuse Job of bringing this on himself.

Angry young theologians challenge me, inspire me, stretch me. I love them! I was one – and hope a little of that is still left in me.

It was an angry young theologian who said, “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)


One Comment

  1. I have myself been an angry young theologian of sorts.

    I have myself known many angry young theologians.

    I think what is needed in the case of them is assessment. All of the AYTs are critical of the church and how it operates. All of them can be rough. However, the question that separates them is this: Are they critical and cynical because God is working in them to lead and be innovative and be an agent of change for the next generation of the church? Or are they critical and cynical just to be critical and cynical?

    The first group is good. The second is dangerous.

    Most of the AYTs I’ve met have been in the second group. They have a lot to say, and they blog the mess out of life. They write critiques. They gossip about God’s bride among themselves. But they don’t really do anything. They are not working for reform and change. They are just whining.

    AYTs are either really good or really bad.

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