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Will Millennials save our economy?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A young couple, millenials, with their baby standing in front of their new home (Credit: Elenathewise via Fotolia)

The housing market is making a significant recovery, according to today’s Wall Street JournalKiplinger ties this recovery to broader economic expansion.  For example, government-controlled mortgage giant Fannie Mae needed a $116 billion federal bailout in 2007; yesterday it reported record earnings of $7.6 billion in fourth-quarter 2012 and $17.2 billion for the year.

One reason for the turnaround: the largest generation in American history is finally buying homes.  Called “the Millennials” (their youngest members were born in 2000), they are 90 million strong.  And they are investing in the housing market as never before.  This fact reverses the global trend of young adults living with their parents.  They’re called “Kippers” in England, which stands for “Kids in Parents’ Pocket Eroding Retirement Savings.”  Canada calls them “Boomerang Kids”; Germans call them “Nesthockers,” literally translated as “nest squatter.”

Why have so many young adults been living at home?  Because of the Great Recession.  Unemployment for those ages 20 to 24 has been twice what it was in 2007 and 50 percent higher than the overall population.  Now that the economy is recovering, their job prospects are improving, along with their purchasing ability.

I wish the spiritual news for this vital generation was so positive.  According to Barna’s studies, fewer teens engage in small groups, prayer, Sunday school, donations to churches, and evangelism than at any time since Barna began such tracking.  The study notes, “Christian teenagers are taking cues from a culture that has made it unpopular to make bold assertions about faith or be too aggressively evangelistic.”

Among Christian 18-to-29-year-olds, 84 percent admit they have no idea how the Bible applies to their field or professional interests.  More and more young adults are disconnecting their faith from the rest of life, accepting the now-popular assertion that truth is personal, individual, and subjective.  But such a disconnect is more dangerous than it may seem.  On logical grounds, if I say “I don’t believe in absolute truth,” don’t I make an absolute truth claim?  On a practical level, if all truth is personal and subjective, was 9/11 al Qaeda’s truth?  How are we to construct and enforce the rule of law?

For the record, Christianity’s founder clearly believed that he taught objective truth.  Jesus claimed to be “the way and the truth and the life” and stated, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

A college student once told me, “I don’t believe the universe is rational.”  I replied, “Would you like my response to be rational or not?”