Christ and the Beat Generation

Life is only a pile of rubbish.  What have we to look forward to?  Somebody is going to start a war, and we go into the arm.  Then an atomic bomb will drop, and it will be all over.

This isn’t what you believe, is it!

But, this is the world and life view of the neo-hedonist, who believes that the chief end of life, the sole and chief good in life is to gratify the pleasure-seeking instincts and dispositions.  Pleasure and pleasure-seeking are the Alpha and the Omega of a blessed life.

The “beat-generation” has accepted the philosophy of the hedonists and the epicureans that the end of life is imperturbability, a peace of mind that transcends all circumstances, and the way to it is the life according to Nature.

Paul had to struggle with the “beat-generation” of his day.  He writes in I Corinthians 15:32 that he had fought with “wild beasts” in Ephesus.  He sees no good in an ordeal like that if there is not life after this one.  Quoting the prophet Isaiah, he says that it would be much better to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

Across the bar of an American tavern leaned a young man still in his late teens.  His

Hair flopped loosely over his ears in a disorderly tangled mop, and his rumpled sweat

shirt, and soiled slacks hung carelessly on his frame as he toyed with a glass of beer and

gazed vacantly into the mirror before him.  One foot kept time with the monotonous

rhythm of the juke box that was blaring out the latest popular hit.  He was one of those

that Time magazine defined as “oddballs who celebrate booze, dope, sex, and despair,

and who go by the name of “beatniks.”

Do you know him?  Is he the typical American adolescent?  Is he your friend?

Merril C. Tenney, Dean of the Graduate School of Wheaton College, writes about “these self-conscious victims of fear and futility”in the latest issue of Christianity Today, February the 29th.  He makes a statement which should jar us out of our lethargy.  He says that such kind can be found “anywhere among the younger set today.  Two world wars, bringing destruction, taxation, and compulsory military service in their wake, have shattered the hopes of many for a peaceful and orderly life ending in some measure of personal success.”

Protestant Reformed Christian young man or woman, this isn’t the way you understand life, is it.  You have not committed “spiritual suicide” have you?  For your life is not a meaningless void?  If it is, then it is equivalent to repudiating God and “resigning yourself to everlasting emptiness.”

The attitude of the beatnik is not new.  It is as old as sin is old.  The term “beatnik” is just a new term of characterize old despair.  Even the “beatniks” of Noah’s day sang the same kind of song that the beatnik sings today; his attitude toward God and his philosophy of life is fundamentally the same.  As Noah preached righteousness for 120 years and the ark became a living testimony of impending disaster and doom for the world, the sons of men scoffed at the foolishness of Noah.

The beatnik of today is as frustrated as the “beatnik” of Noah’s day.  He seeks for peace where there is no peace.  His booze, dope, and sex drive him deeper into despair.  These seeming pleasures do no satisfy.  They are not the eternal values that give peace.

In this Easter season we should be reminded of the fact that Christ came, not as the Lord of the dead, but of the living.  He is not the Lord of those who are spiritually beat, but he is the Lord of those who are spiritually alive.  And what is more miraculous still is that Christ is our life.  (Remember the theme of last year’s convention – “Christ our Life”.)

By nature you and I are also “beat” we are spiritually dead – but by grace we are made alive.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When, Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.  Colossians 3: 1-4