Friday, June 21, 2019

Secularism Rules in Western Churches

Duck family in my front yard

Two years ago I read The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher.

Dreher said the culture wars are over, at least in the West. The sexual revolution and the technological revolution have won. I agree, at least for the extended moment.

The American Church was not prepared for this. "The public square has been lost." (P. 9) American churches have succumbed. 

C.S. Lewis referred to the secular world as "enemy-occupied territory." The enemy is within the camp, ruling over hearts and minds. Many churches are not safe places for followers of Jesus. They are "mostly about improving one’s self-esteem and subjective happiness and getting along well with others." (P. 10)

Dreher writes:

"Not only have we lost the public square, but the supposed high ground of our churches is no safe place either...  The changes that have overtaken the West in modern times have revolutionized everything, everything, even the church, which no longer forms souls but caters to selves. As conservative Anglican theologian Ephraim Radner has said, “There is no safe place in the world or in our churches within which to be a Christian. It is a new epoch.”" (P. 9)

"Don’t," warns Dreher, "be fooled by the large number of churches you see today... If the demographic trends continue, our churches will soon be empty."

In my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church my concluding chapter is, "God's Presence Will Win the Day." I believe this. What is needed is:

1) decolonization; and 
2) return.

Dreher writes, "many of the churches that do stay open will have been hollowed out by a sneaky kind of secularism to the point where the “Christianity” taught there is devoid of power and life." (P. 10)

Needed: God's power and life. Not human staging and hype.

Dreher writes about how Moralistic Therapeutic Deism has colonized the Church. (Years ago I read Christian Smith's Soul Searching, which introduced MTD.)

Dreher's book still resonates with me (except perhaps for his negative evaluation on the Reformation). At least he doesn't have his head in the sand.

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.