Thank God for Young People

As hard as it is for my children to believe, I was young once. There was a time that I read the entire set of Ante-Nicene fathers by Philip Schaff from the Christian Classic Ethereal Library. When I was curious about Eastern Orthodoxy, I got a copy of the Decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils through an interlibrary loan and read the entire two volume set. A similar interlibrary loan got me photocopies of Hebrew Ms 132 (Hebrew edition of Matthew) from The National Library of Paris, and then put a year into transcribing it into Unicode, then another year into translating it into English. I listened to apologetics and philosophy shows on the radio on my car drive to work and then again on the way home. At one point, I started to make a collated New Testament that combined readings from the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text, and a Nestle-Aland pubic-domain text with accents and punctuation. (You can get something similar without accents or punctuation.)

Outside my biblical studies, I was an Adobe Certified Expert in Acrobat 6.0. I built computers for a hobby. I designed a programming language and built a little compiler for it in C++. I wrote a font-building program in PostScript. I learned Blender and then Python trying to automate some ideas, but what I lack in artistic intuition I make up for in lack of artistic intuition, so that one didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I am a Black Belt in Northern Shaolin Long First Kung Fu, and took over the school I grew up in when I was 23 after my instructor left.

Then, all of a sudden and without warning, one day I turned 25. I was married, I had a special needs child, and I was running from work to home as fast as my wheels could take me. Which was never fast enough. I had to drop a few projects. Then a few more. Then a few more. I blamed it on all the time managing my son’s condition trying to keep him alive for a few years, but eventually that excuse grew stale. The truth is, I’m old now and I just don’t have the energy I once did.

Not that it’s all doom and gloom. With old age comes experience and now I am able to go far deeper into a study than I ever could at 21. It takes longer to get there, but the results are definitely worth it. But that’s a post for another day.

One thing that I’ve reflected on in my old age is that I thought I had all the answers when I was younger. I thought that I had cracked the codes that many of my elders had failed to notice. I was wrong… sometimes. Okay, a lot. There are a lot of issues where I came down hard on one side in those days and I’ve completely reversed in my old age.

There are a few, though, where I wish young me could get in on the debate now. As I’ve explored the issue ever deeper and more completely, I’ve only become more convinced that Matthew was written in Hebrew, Paul’s letters were compiled and edited in Aramaic, and that for the rest the Byzantine text is the best example for us to use. Along with these, my conviction that the Holy Word of God is divinely preserved is ever clearer to me. And I’ve had people praise my Flashcard app with such high praise as, “Shaun! You learned how to make a user interface!”

For that reason, I try to keep a pulse on what a few intelligent and thoughtful young people are finding. These will be the next generation of the Christian faith. If we old people want to be remembered favorably, it will be these young people who will be doing that remembering and deciding if it’s favorable or unfavorable. It might do us well to see what is ringing hollow with them and why. Sure, sometimes I feel the urge to scream “Does your mom know you’re on the Internet?” at them, but then I remind myself that they’re not children, I’m just old.

One young person I’ve recently started following has a blog here in WordPress. She goes by The Christian Tech Nerd. I started following her because the name appealed to me. I think she’s on her way to being an interesting and insightful young theologian. To get a sense of her style, I suggest checking out “Ways to Better Enjoy Reading the Bible.”

Another blog that’s worth watching is Tom’s Corner. I recently stumbled across his defense of the New Testament reliability, and it’s definitely well written, shows strong intuition for how to balance research and ethos, and has a friendly vibe to it.

Some of them I’ve been following long enough that they aren’t so young any more. The quintessential example of this Ally Hatcher. Like me, she’s a parent of a special needs son, passionate about her lifestyle and committed to her faith. I’ve been following her for years. I kind of see a bit of a reflection of my younger self in her, except that I’ve had more family support than she has. She has a chapter from her book A Geeky, Traumatic Take On Healing: As Told By Fictional Characters up on her channel, and that can give you a feel for how she processes things.

Dr. Andrew Henry runs the YouTube channel Religion for Breakfast, and just celebrated seven years on YouTube. I remember him getting his doctorate a few years ago. For me, it was anticlimactic. Although Dr. Henry has certainly had more opportunities than Mr. Henry did, and I’ve been glad to see him guest star on other YouTube channels like Patheos, he wasn’t intelligent because of his degree, he was intelligent because he’s awesome.

I just recently ran across Miss Tytus2, who does urban apologetics. She has a great video dealing with the idea that Christianity is just for white people. I find her style to be very approachable and friendly, but also serious and direct.

Another young person who is surprisingly insightful is Fanciscan Father Casey Cole who runs the YouTube channel Breaking in the Habit. He’s Catholic, which means there are a lot of presuppositions he brings to the conversation that are very different from mine. It can be a challenge and a stretch, but that’s the point, isn’t it? Like Dr. Henry, he also has a guest spot on Patheos.

Cameron Bertuzzi runs the YouTube channel Capturing Christianity. He is a very open minded and free thinking young theologian. If anyone ends up leading the ecumenical movement that eventually reunites Protestants, Roman Catholicics, and Eastern Orthodoxy, it will be an older, wiser, and better connected version of Mr. Bertuzzi. To see what I mean, check out his discussion of the Eucharist with a Roman Catholic apologist.

There’s another blog called “Theology on the Block” that I feel gets at things from another angle than I’m often used to. There’s an examination of the claim that there are too many Bible transitions out there that spoke to me. I’m not really sure why that one connected with me so well. 🙄😇

Haden Clark runs his own YouTube channel where he interviews new Christian authors and gives his insights on the direction of Protestant Christianity in the culture. He is definitely more connected to the Republican political arm of the Protestant church than I am, and like Father Casey stretches me from time to time. Sadly, he shares a name with a serial killer so if you search for his name on YouTube or Google, you get the serial killer and not the infinitely more interesting young theologian. His recent interview with Ben Watkins should give you a taste of his style.

Bojan Teodosijević runs the YouTube channel Bible Illustrated. He is a Serbian Orthodox reader and iconographer. I’ve always been drawn to Eastern Orthodoxy, but there’s no Eastern Orthodox Church within easy driving distance from where I live. Bojan serves as my window into Orthodoxy, but he’s also very insightful in his own thoughts. He has a few videos on Reading Icons (1, 2, and 3) for those who have always been curious about that.

Michael Jones from Inspiring Philosophy is probably one of the fastest rising stars of all the young theologians I follow. His production quality, both in terms of research and presentation, is a step above just about anything else out there short of The Bible Project (which isn’t on this list because Dr. Mackie is my age.) I think his exploration of the Book of Jasher is a great introduction to his style.

Austin from Gospel Simplicity is a growing YouTube presence that explores a lot of Bible and theology issues. I first became aware of this channel when he interviewed Dr. Tim Mackie a few months ago, and of course YouTube likes to throw anything with Dr. Mackie into my feed. (And they say that the algorithm is broken.)

Even though he’s not a Theologian, I’m going to take a moment to plug one of my comics channels. Scott Niswander runs NerdSync, which explores the philosophical side of comics and other pop culture elements. If you would like a great intro to Scott’s style, I suggest his video on famous painter Bob Ross. Again, he’s not a theologian, but he’s definitely a good and developing philosopher in his own right.

I don’t think I agree with a whole lot of their final conclusions, but another growing YouTube channel worth following is the Belfast Podcast. You can get a sense of their style as they examine the problem of original sin. I come down more on the Augustinian side than they do, but it’s always interesting to see young people wrestling with these issues.

If you’re a young philosopher or theologian that didn’t make my list, that’s what the comments section is for! You are hereby invited to shamelessly plug your blog or YouTube channel or podcast below. Let me know that you’re out there and I’ll check you out. If I’m impressed with what I see, I’ll add you to the main list. If I don’t see anything that speaks to me, you’ll still be in the comments.

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