Title: Varieties of Personal Theology: Charting the Beliefs and Values of American Young Adults
Author: David Gortner
Each person creates for themselves a Personal Theology, which consists of worldview, theodicy, life purpose, and ultimate values. There is not always a correlation between these four categories; there is no pattern or connection between these components of personal theology for many young adults. Many things influence these personal theologies, including education, race, age, socioeconomic status, family, and religion; religion and the family were not always the most influential things. By asking young adults open-ended questions, we (the church) convey that we trust that “they are indeed capable of articulating and explaining their beliefs and values.” (323) But how often do we ask young adults (or anyone) questions about their faith? If we want parishes to be more welcoming to young adults, then we need parishes to be more understanding of these personal theologies, to help young adults articulate their personal theologies better, and equip them to navigate their spiritual journeys when these personal theologies change with new life experiences.
Martha Korienek is Associate Rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Burlingame, CA.