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Welcome to Post-Christianity’s Brave New World

4-11-16

What would you call the age we live in? When I was a child, we were told that the Machine Age had been superseded by the Atomic Age. But that was marketing of sorts. Anyway, nuclear energy and the ability to incinerate the planet have become mundane topics. We might be in the Computer Age, but that term soon will sound as musty as new-fangled “horseless carriages” and “talkie movies” that once inspired awe.

I think we all flatter ourselves that we are blessed to be “modern,” up-to-the-minute (if not quite hip). So is this the Modern Age?

Actually, philosophers and artists maintain that the Modern Age ended long ago, followed by Post-Modernism… which has also ended. Eclipsed by – Post-Post-Modernism? Some people use this term. Do you get the feeling that we have just taken our seats at the stadium, and the game is already in extra innings?

My preference, and it seems very logical to me, is that our age is best described, in perspective of history’s grand sweep, as the Post-Christian Era. Some people would dismiss that as being too theocentric… but in view of the cultural, artistic, intellectual, economic, even diplomatic, and yes, religious, core of two millennia: yes, “Post-Christian” describes where we are.

“Modern” and its permutations are terms that tend to elude us. Whether the Renaissance was the last whiff of Classicism or the dawning of Modernism is debated. But we must go back in history that far. Luther was the last Pre-Modern. The Age of Reason was on the horizon in Europe, espied from the platform of Humanism. Yet Luther, the last Medievalist, held fast to the proposition that “reason is the enemy of faith.”

More than two centuries later, Luther’s artistic disciple Johann Sebastian Bach summed up the heritage of the Gothic, Renaissance, and early Baroque eras. Intending to summarize more than innovate, he was not seduced by potential acclaim nor his effect on the future. In fact, he was rejected by the first “Moderns” in Rococo Europe. Bach’s scientific contemporary, Isaac Newton, was representative of the Age of Enlightenment.

I am aware (all too aware, because it is clearly counter-factual) that many schools today teach, when they teach at all, that Enlightenment scientists and philosophers freed Western Civilization from the shackles of religion and superstition. That’s what “enlightened” meant, right?

Wrong. Philosophers like Pascal and Locke; scientists like Galileo and Newton; and creators like Bach and William Blake, all saw the substantial advances in their fields as confirming, not disproving, the existence of God and His plans. Newton concluded, it has been said, that we live within the space of God’s mind. The poet Alexander Pope wrote: “Nature and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night; God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ And all was Light!”

But then, 50 years or so later, the mad swirl of Romanticism, revolution, industrialization, and social turmoil broke forth as like a lanced boil. It has not healed; the burst dam has not been mended. We have had Marxism since the 1840s, Darwinism since the 1850s, wars and rumors of wars since the 1860s, and the Industrial Revolution that brought many blessings but also brought poverty, injustice, dislocation, and wage-slavery instead of less pernicious traditional slavery.

Many people have not yet come to full realizations about the enormous disruptions caused by elements of contemporary life specifically of the past 200 years. As people became educated; climbed the ladder of prosperity, or were crushed under it; and earned the new commodity of leisure time… religion became less important.

People relied less on God. And for those vulnerable souls who need God’s blessings, the Modern State and its Socialist and Marxian manifestations are there, attempting to substitute for the Church. These tendencies have multiplied and accelerated. Not only the Dynamo (Henry Adams’ term for the Machine Age’s deity, supplanting the church) but the arts and ever-more secular philosophers, all worked to convince people that God was dead.

God has indeed died, in the Nietzschean sense that society no longer acknowledges Him, depends on His Word, worships His Son, or serves Him.

This is true. The inclination of sinful souls to reject God finds comfort in a culture that makes it safe to reject Him. Denominations even twist scripture and call evil good. Humankind’s soul is no less dark then ever, wars are more brutal, and the world hurtles toward unprecedented chaos, envy, and strife.

The Secularists have an answer: that we distance ourselves even further from God and His Word.

We have itching ears, as the Bible foretold – we hear what we want to hear. We invite cultural enablers.

We are happy to revel in wine, women, and song – or what seduced the decadent Romans, called “Bread and Circuses.”

How do we respond to all the biblical prophecies, all the warnings of our wise forebears, all the lessons of fallen civilizations gone before? We laugh and ignore the certainty of calamity.

The anti-religious impulse of scientists, of Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Relativism, Secularism, the negative effects of finance capitalism and repressive Socialism, the pollution of the earth and of our minds; indeed, human nature unfettered for the first time in history – where has it gotten us? Where are we headed? Adherents of those false gods should repent, as should we ALL.

Given the signs of the times and biblical prophecy, those who reject God ought to repent or at least desperately HOPE there is a God. For their alternative ideas have not worked, but rather have brought the world to chaos. Welcome to the brave new world of Post-Christianity.

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Our Click this week is a song by Merle Haggard, the iconic American poet, songwriter, and singer who died this week on his 79th birthday. Of the many genres he mastered, God and Country predominated. This song is among his best. Sadly, it is as pertinent now as when he recorded it, 1971.

Click: Merle Haggard – Jesus, Take a Hold

Category: Government, Jesus, Patriotism

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10 Responses

  1. cken says:

    The problem or part of the problem is Christians in the U.S. and maybe in the western world have become complacent and content. Christians generally fail to stand up for their religion so they shouldn’t be surprised when nobody else cares about it either. Yes the price for standing up for Christianity may be high. Standing up for Christianity is more than being against abortion or gay marriage. Try spreading the good news. But be warned you could lose your job or people could mock you or say you aren’t being PC or it is a micro-aggression. So we can put our collective heads in the sand or we can have a renaissance. God isn’t dead. Christianity isn’t dead either it is just lethargic and a bit scared.

  2. John Hutchinson says:

    Rick:

    There has been a prior occasion when Western societies have been secularist before. The Hellenists, for all intensive purposes, had a turn at that in the centuries following Alexander the Great’s conquest. This is not as new as you think. Plato’s Academy went skeptic (philosophical and epistemological) around 280 BC, in competition with Pyrrho. This was the age of Democritus. And only when the Macedonian, and later the Seleucid Empires fell, does one see a return of Platonic and Stoic schools to the Classical, theistic, and moral ideas that we associate with them. (And that only in order to ingratiate themselves to the Romans, who were only beginning their own process of secularism.)

    It is not to be assumed that this secularization is necessarily a single line progression. But cken is correct that true Christianity will not become a force until its people lose their complacency, including a reconstruction based on the Scriptures, and not merely a recovery of Reformation ideas.

  3. cken says:

    I was using renaissance not as a period of history but rather to mean a renewal or revival of something that is no longer popular as in the basic principles of the early church.

    This question is based on your reference to Plato and my lack of knowledge: can we have had pre-Christian secularism at least as the term secularism is used today?

  4. I understand your use of small-R renaissance. Regarding Plato, I admire his philosophy on its own, but also as proto-Christian, which was the attitude of the early Church fathers. To your question: I am not sure what you mean. Before Christianity informed societies, there were relatively moral and ethical civilizations and cultures (I employ Max Boot’s progression); likewise there were spiritual societies — religious observances according to pagan rules — but corrupt, immoral, unjust by almost everyone’s core standards. Highly developed skills at architecture, say, but practicing infant sacrifice. Trying to understand what you mean, I think it is most evident, almost axiomatic, that the world beheld pre-Christian secularistm.

  5. cken says:

    Secularism just seems to be a fairly new word and I was wondering if it existed in a pre-Christian era. Did it even exist as recently as the reformation era. I kind of think what we called secularism five hundred years ago or so it would have been called heresy. I am not sure and you seem to be historically erudite I wanted your opinion.

  6. “Secularism” is (technically) not anti-Christian. It means a separation, supposedly without hostility, from any organized religion. Therefore, strictly, not heresy, because it advocates no dogma, instead of false dogma, beyond denial of God’s existence. Epicurus would be deemed a secularist. The word, I believe, was coined by a Brit named (ironically) Holyoake, in the 19th century.

  7. cken says:

    Thank you for elucidating me. Question: If secularism has no dogma, i.e. teaching, from whence commeth a secularists moral, or ethical if you prefer, compass?

  8. Sorry; excuse me; and no offense meant. But in case you are putting me on: I cannot elucidate you; not can anyone. People can be educated or receive information — only concepts and ideas can be elucidated (explained). Dogma is NOT “i.e. (Latin for “that is”) teaching”; it is not a verb. Dogma is a set of principles believed to be, or advanced as, truth. “From whence” is a tautology. “From” or “whence” is sufficient; together they are redundant. “Commeth” properly is spelled “cometh.” Archaic, but we can’t have archaic and eat it too. As you use it, “secularists” takes a singular possessive. To your question, my belief is that we are all born with some innate degree of awareness of right and wrong — perhaps more mechanistic or pragmatic, even superstitious, than spiritual. It is not necessarily connected to, or dependent upon, the laws and commands of the God of the Bible, which have less to do with your comfort or current circumstances, and more to do with obeying God and desiring eternal life.

  9. John Attis says:

    God being God could have erased “original sin” with a creative wave of his finger. Instead he sends his only son to “die” for us. Why? What was the purpose?-All primitive religions have “blood sacrifice” Christianity started with one.
    With each scientific proof, religion becomes an ever-receding body of nonsense and that is good. There were no morals or ethics in the bible(a 3000 yr. old book-filled with slavery, incest, rape, and war)-and that is what we got out of it-both sides finding a contradiction that fit their ludicrous beliefs. We tried some of it for 2500 years, and it didn’t work. The scientific revolution has us flying thru the stars, finding diseases caused by germs do we can stop burning witch’s for imaginary crimes for god didn’t know about germs. Now, you may need this nonsense, I do not. Science Flies Us To The Stars; Religions Flies Us Into Buildings. No Name>Bad emails

  10. Let’s start with how we got here. That is not a proof of God’s existence, but your rants do not disprove Him. It is shame you rant complete in ignorance of His plans and purposes.

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About The Author

... Rick Marschall is the author of 74 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia magazine called him "perhaps America's foremost authority on popular culture") to history and criticism; country music; television history; biography; and children's books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing devotionals and magazine articles; he was co-author of "The Secret Revealed" with Dr Jim Garlow. His biography of Johann Sebastian Bach for the “Christian Encounters” series (Thomas Nelson) was released in April, 2011. Read More