7 Truths We Have Forgotten

from Jan 03, 2015 Category: Articles

Every generation has not just its blind spots, but its amnesiac moments—truths once held, even honored, that the rising generation let go of. One might call these things “Slipping Off the Shoulders of Giants.” Here are seven truths our fathers in the faith grasped that we have forgotten:

  1. It’s not about me. One of the reasons the greatest generation earned their title is because they sacrificed for others. In our day, because we engage in distant wars for hazy reasons, our soldiers are left fighting for mere geo-political interests. Some do so for a paycheck. Some do so to test their mettle. Precious few do so because they recognize their calling to sacrifice for those placed under their care.
  2. Doing is better than watching. There was a time when sports were something you competed in, music something you made, and stories something you told. Now all three have essentially become things we watch or listen to. Worse still, the same is true of our worship. Our parents went to worship the living God. We go to watch the worship team. They went to be changed by the preaching of the Word. We go to be challenged by the sharing of the leader.
  3. Older is better than newer. We have come to embrace the inevitability of progress and have thus become suspicious of that which has been tried and found to be true. Innovation is valued more highly than fidelity. This problem bears the fruit of still more problems. To borrow from Huxley, ending becomes better than mending. Conspicuous consumption becomes a social virtue. Indeed the whole economy is inverted, wherein the good is served best by wanting rather than by making. It is consumer demand we demand. Our fathers demanded quality.
  4. Formality demonstrates respect for the transcendent. In our day formality, in speech, in dress, in just about any sphere has become equated with insincerity. Not surprisingly, sloppiness now looks like honesty to our generation.
  5. Maturity matters. We not only chase after slovenliness, but youthfulness as well. We are a generation that gives no thought for tomorrow, the YOLO generation. Our fathers knew well that you don’t only live once. You live at least three times. You live your life here on earth. You live in eternity. And you live in and through the generations that follow you. They made sacrifices for us, and we in turn demanded still more for ourselves, and leave our children bereft. To be mature is to have the will to delay gratification, to harness and restrain our own appetites. We want what we want and we want it now, future be damned.
  6. Focus matters. We are a sensate people. We want our senses fed, at all times. Which may explain why we eat too much, why we watch too much, why we listen too much, and even why we feel too much. We are always in a tizzy of incoming stimuli. Our parents, on the other hand, knew the value of focus. When they read, they read. When they listened to music, they really listened. And when they worked, they really worked. We, on the other hand, have forgotten.
  7. That we have to remember. It may well be that all of the above come together in this one thing we have forgotten- that we need to remember. It was T.S. Elliott who lamented in Choruses from the Rock, “Where is the knowledge we have lost in the information?” We, like no generation before us, are buried in information, all of which is just a few key strokes away. Our fathers, on the other hand, cherished and protected all that they learned, storing not just knowledge in their brains, but wisdom in their hearts. We are helpless without our cyber-lifelines. Which makes us rather helpless even with our cyber-lifelines. What we remember is what we cherish, what defines us, and what we will pass on to our children. Sadly for too many of us, what we will leave them is little more than the password for the WiFi.

R.C. Sproul Jr. is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. Originally published at RCSproulJr.com.