Monday, March 14, 2016

Unmasking secularism

I've been reading Newbigin's "The Gospel in a Pluralist Society." He shows that the process of secularisation (with its accompaning rationalisation, industrialisation and urbanisation), instead of leading to the gradual disappearance of religious belief, demonstrates 'the continuing and often greatly increased vigor of religious belief in that society'. It is so for several reasons. 

First, the view which excludes the belief systems of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religions is also a worldview, even a religion (faith in the autonomous self). Second, the agenda to separate public life from private behaviour and morals is impossible in the long terms, because the way a society behaves is a function of the personal values and beliefs of its individuals. There are other dichotomies, too, characteristic of the so called 'secular society' - fact vs values, politics vs ethics, etc. Besides, the unprecedented crop of new religions in the west also proves this myth.

Newbigin continues: "Christian affirmation in this context requires the unmasking of the principalities and powers of the secular society. It calls for a new kind of enlightenment, namely the opening up of the underlying assumptions of a secular society, and asking the unasked questions, the probing of unrecognized presuppositions. Then he goes on to say: 

"Christian affirmation in this context cannot mean simply the affirmation of a way of personal salvation for the individual. It must mean no less than this: to call men and women into discipleship of Jesus Christ.

"The model for all Christian discipleship is given once and for all in the ministry of Jesus. His ministry entailed the calling of individual men and women to personal and costly discipleship, but at the same time it challenged the principalities and powers, the ruler of this world, and the cross was the price paid for that challenge... The Church can never settle down to being a voluntary society concerned merely with private and domestic affairs. It is bound to challenge in the name of the one Lord all the powers, ideologies, myths, assumptions, and worldviews which do not acknowledge him as Lord. If that involves conflict, trouble, and rejection, then we have the example of Jesus before us and the reminder that a servant is not greater than his master."