Monday, July 31, 2017

Are Millennials in the Bible?

If we apply generational theory to the biblical narrative, would we find generational similarities?

A teenager in their natural habitat - on their device.
Generational theory can be fascinating but remember it's just a theory. We must be careful about projecting and predicting the future based on broad cycles from the past. One theory I particularly like is Howe & Strauss’s Four Turnings. Read all about it at

Part of their body of proof is tracing cycles back several hundred years. But I wonder if these same cycles can be found even farther back, perhaps in the pages of the Old Testament. So I began with the Exodus. I'm sure there were cycles to be found during Israel's slavery in Egypt but prior to the Exodus the narrative is largely on individuals.

In my opinion, Millennials are similar to Gideon's generation through the book of Judges. Here's why: Born after entering the promised land, they would have been protected by their parents who had been through the desert wanderings and watched an older generation die because of unbelief.

They would have come of age entitled to a land filled with milk and honey, living in houses they did not build and harvesting crops they did not plant. But they would have observed the moralistic nature of their parents who declared "We will serve the Lord" then fail to follow through with claiming the land.

As Millennials move into young adulthood, the WWII Greatest Generation is slipping away. During Judges, the oldest who were born right after the first Passover and toddled across the Red Sea were rapidly passing away. This left very few if any who remembered first hand the miracles, giving rise to a continuing lack of purpose.

But just as in Gideon's day, Millennials will rise to face the crisis. Their world is built on an ethos of heroes. Overcoming the crisis will give them a sense of purpose and impact on their world, even if only temporary. Just like in Judges, the problems will not be singular or monumental, but localized and persistent.

Eventually, Millennials will be come the older generation who have gained power and hubris like Eli the high priest. But they will also recognize that another great generation is coming after them (as Eli saw in Samuel) and indulge them.

So do not panic over the plight of Millennials. They are the generation that will swing the tide back towards another Great Awakening though they may not live to see it. Despite concern that they are so lazy nothing will ever get accomplished, once an older judgmental generation steps aside, Millennials will rise to the occasion and call the culture back, allowing the artists and dreamers to flourish.

What do you think? Are there other Biblical generations that would compare to the Boomers or Gen Xers? Millennials are much aligned. In many ways it's the Baby Boomers applying the same Dr. Spock-ish scientific methodology they tried on Gen X. Apply the right formula and they will become what they ought to be. But can we find similar traits and intrinsic needs among previous generations?