I was reading the most recent blog written by Dr. Albert Mohler, the current president of Southern Seminary, one of our six Southern Baptist Seminaries, and I found it to be quite thought-provoking. He was summarizing some comments written by Charles Taylor in his book The Secular Age and giving commentary on those comments.
In his summary, he noted that the gist of the book was the identification of three major intellectual ages in history and the impact those ages have had on the mindset of mankind regarding their belief in God while including the ways that believers can hold on to and spread their biblical convictions and biblical principles. He identified the ages of pre-enlightenment, the enlightenment, and the post- modern intellectual epochs. They are also named by some as the pre-modern, modern, and post-modern ages. Others have labelled the post-modern age as the post-Christian era.
In the pre-enlightenment era it was impossible for people not to believe in God, on the whole. There were largely no other worldviews that were available for consideration by society in the West. Everyone related their life, their world, to the Bible or the “enchantment”, supernatural world views. There were no atheists in that day. He notes that the descriptive word “atheist” didn’t even exist in the English language until Miles Coverdale invented the word while studying the Bible to describe someone who didn’t believe in God. Obviously, no problem, on the whole talking about your faith, the gospel or the principles derived from the Word and applied to your life.
The enlightenment became a time when people began to have options to consider. They could take a different world view in opposition to the Christian worldview. It now became possible not to believe. I mean now you could choose a naturalistic worldview as opposed to a supernatural or theistic worldview. Most didn’t, because the theistic worldview was still the most persuasive and the most engrained world view, it was held to by most during this time. It became more difficult to engage society with the truth of the gospel and the principles gleaned from the Word of God, but the hostility and derision was not anything like that which would come to fruition during the next epoch.
The post-modern age has become the age where secular thought seeks to reign supreme. It has become virtually impossible to believe. In a relative short period of time, three-hundred to four hundred years, the secularization of our society now overshadows our daily living. Now we live in a society that all but erases the legitimacy of the Christian worldview. How many University professors, outside of Christian educational institutions, do you believe hold to a Christian worldview? Obviously there are Christians in each age, including the age that we now live in, but the environment has become more hostile and dismissive of a Christian worldview.
This age, on the whole, wants to erase God from the landscape and replace Him with another religion that is false, that being human secularism. But of course, that will not happen. You cannot erase God or His disciples or the truth written in the Word of God.
Since the intellectual constructs of our society have becoming increasingly hostile toward the Christian worldview we must be prepared to engage human secularism and opposing world views in the marketplace of ideas with the truth and power of the gospel, in love.
How many of our children or our grandchildren find themselves thrown out, by us, into the “lion’s den” without a proper preparation for the hostility and derision they may find from a society that ridicules their most precious faith. How many will find a teacher in the public educational system that will believe it is his or her duty to challenge and destroy the faith of every believer that is uncovered. Most of us have had a teacher like my Mr. Boyce in high school, the science teacher, or the many others encountered at the University level...that believe it is their job to do so. How many of us are going to remain oblivious to, or surprised at, the continual effort to erase God from our society, when the effort is manifest every day, even on His birthday, Christmas.
It’s probably time to pull our heads out of the sand and make preparation and engage opposing world views with confidence and tenacity. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is to study the Word of God, learn it, and live it. When you know the truth you can identify that which is untrue and ungodly, and when you apply it to your life and live it by faith daily you give witness to the power and plan of God for living. With that testimony you will enjoy a credibility that will make it easier for people to entertain the truth of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and to convert.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
In the Old Testament we find Daniel, as a young teenager, uprooted from his homeland and family, indoctrinated educationally for three years by a society that wanted him to forget where He was from and who God was and who He was, but he didn’t. He knew His Bible. His parents had instructed him well, and he had the foundation that enabled him to live it in a hostile environment. He lived his life in such a way that it gave witness to the one true God of the universe...and then he left the results in the hands of God. You can find his story and example in the book of Daniel. It gives us a clue... on what to do.
We, like Daniel, find ourselves in an ever increasing hostile environment directed towards our faith. It shouldn’t be a surprise.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
Indeed, not everyone is as open to entertaining the truth of the Scripture as in days gone by. Most are becoming very intolerant and would like for us to forget God and certainly not speak of Him or His truth in the public square.
But we also live in the public square and we will not be ashamed or unprepared. We will not be surprised by attacks or obstacles but will with love and passion live and share the gospel, the hope of all mankind. But this reality does call upon us, in our preparation, to know our audience, the age we live in, and to employ the most effective manner possible in sharing the gospel and the principles of Scripture in every venue possible. If I were preaching to a group of miners I would seek to speak to them in a manner that would be markedly different from the way I might speak to a group of surfers on the beach in Hawaii. (By the way, anybody who would like to send me to Hawaii for a couple of weeks to do so...please...give me a call!) But the one thing you could count on is this, the message of the gospel would be unchanged, for it is the “power of God for salvation to all who believe” (Romans 1:16) but the manner by which I delivered it might be a little different, without violating Scriptural principles. Our message will remain unchanged...the good news...the gospel...for it is the only hope for every person in the world.
Get prepared, and prepare your family, and other disciples of Christ to no longer be surprised by the age we live in, and engage the culture with the gospel, with what we say and how we live, for the glory of God.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (ESV)