I am fortunate to have a college campus minister in my congregation. She keeps me up on fresh research and perspective. Last week, she shared insights from Lost in Transition, Christian Smith's look at the spirituality of young adults.
One of the author's statements in an interview reveals little difference between young adults and my own baby boom generation:
"Most emerging adults view religion as training in becoming a good person. And they think they are basically good people. To not be a good person, you have to be a horrible person. Therefore, everything's fine."
Compare that with today's Morning Prayer lesson:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Do we believe that the "first death," the "natural death" we must all face is a consequence of humanity's sin and estrangement from God?
Do we believe that Jesus Christ is "taking names" of those who will follow him through this first death into eternal life?
Do we believe that there is a "second death" that is eternal torment hopelessly separated from God's new creation?
Or are we all sold on (and preaching) a therapeutic religion, in which the first death is to be ignored (science or positive thinking will eventually overcome it), and in which eternal joy is an entitlement for all but the "Hitlers" of the world, so there's no "Book of Life" to worry about?