BRILLIANT DESCRIPTION, TROUBLING PRESCRIPTION
I’ve read two of Seel’s other books. He is an insightful thinker and clear writer. He has much to offer.
I looked forward to reading The New Copernicans. I’m sorry to say it is not a book I can recommend. Here’s a few reasons why:
*The New Copernicans (roughly the millennial generation) are the ones that the church must now listen to. Though I resonate with some of the concerns The New Copernicans (hereafter TNC) have with American evangelicalism, I have my disagreements as well…at least with the stereotyped view of them that Seel offers.
The problem is that TNC have much to learn from other aged believers in the church as well. Seel says that older Christians may help TNC love the church again, but that is about the only positive contribution that is mentioned.
*Every age sees things others don’t, but they also miss critical matters. Seel seems to think the former is all that is relevant with TNC.
*When Seel speaks of TNC he speaks in broad or monolithic categories. Some millennials are in fact very interested in doctrinal fidelity and the Bible being upheld, things that Seel never entertains as possibilities. We are simply told in sweeping generalities that TNC are characterized by things such as a desire for experiences and are critical towards those who judge others.
*The old error that description does not equal prescription is an error that Seel seems to fall into throughout his book. Seel offers terrific descriptions of our cultural change and what TNC desire, but never questions whether they are wrong.
*I was hoping Seel would offer exemplars of an older generation who seem to be sensitive to TNC while maintaining a commitment to orthodoxy. Instead, folks like Rachel Held Evans, Peter Enns, and Frank Schaeffer are featured. I wonder how Seel would rate Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright (he does approvingly quote him), and Eugene Peterson, to name a few.
As one who has read most of the conversation partners Seel holds up (Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith, and Lesslie Newbigin), I am sad to say that The New Copernicans was not the book I was hoping for.