We live in amazing and alarming times. The deep scientific, political, religious, economic, demographic and technological changes we see all around us are like tectonic plates grinding and pounding against one another. We are faced with continuous upheaval and the noisy collapse of institutions and systems that have stood for thousands of years. These changes are not lost on the Christian church, for it now faces a complex set of obstacles to its mission and effectiveness. As Os Guinness has pointed out in his book Impossible People, responding to these forces is less like trying to plug a hole in a dike and more like trying to hold back a mudslide.
Despite these challenges, the Church’s call remains clear: to be faithful and flourish in carrying out the Great Commission. But how? The first step is to clearly understand the challenges of our times. Here are four challenges to the Gospel-preaching church posed by advanced modernity:
#1 We live in a time of mega-change
#2 We live in a time of increased hostility toward active faith.
#3 We live in a time of crisis for western civilization.
#4 We live in a time of crisis for the Christians church
Ontario recently passed the “All Families Are Equal Act,”which allows a birth parent to enter into a “pre-conception parent agreement” with up to four people.
James Madison referred to constitutional rights as “parchment barriers.”
Os Guinness has described western society as a “cut-flower” civilization. He means that western civilization has been cut from its Judeo-Christian roots and will fade unless something changes.
Think about the following quip from Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov: “Man descended from apes, therefore we must love one another.” This does not follow. What basis do we have to make a claim of “rights” if there is no ultimate source of morality or reason to believe in equal human dignity? This concern is especially relevant to the West’s growing struggle with terrorism and its moral bankruptcy in the face of the mega-changes described above.
The great challenge to the church is not currently persecution, for the Gospel-preaching church has long thrived in spite of and perhaps because of external pressure. Rather, the great challenge to the Christian church is subversion. Advanced modernity’s most effective attack against Christianity is not against Christianity’s truth but rather its necessity. The battle is not so much between faith and reason as it is between faith and feeling.
I tell a story about Greek soldiers at the battle of Gaugamela seeing an elephant for the very first time-in the battle line across from them. For a great telling of the full story, see Dan Carlin’s podcast Hardcore History and the King of Kings episodes.
Book Recommendations (not an affiliate; just trying to be helpful):