Tuesday, September 20, 2016

unraveling strands II

Over twenty-five years ago, Carl Henry gave a lecture, first to the Baptist Union of Romania (September, 1990), and later to the Tyndale Seminary faculty (the Netherlands) and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, entitled "Christianity and Resurgent Paganism".  As with all of his writings I am continually amazed at Henry's prescient insight into Western culture and its trajectory.  Where Henry refers to "modernism" we can easily substitute the term "post-modernism." This is the second post with a few quotes from this talk.  

"Modernity, therefore, needs to be liberated not only from the shackles of unbelief, but also from its bondage to wrong beliefs.  Prominent among these beliefs is the notion that science, as mathematical physicists ideally pursue it, is the only reliable method of knowing.  Modern empiricists sponsor an ideological totalism of their own when they confer explanatory crown rights on a theory of truth that cannot decide the final truth of anything.  Naturalism, as Ronald Nash says, is 'not a decision based on science... It is... a religious decision.' Indeed, and an irreligious decision.  It's presuppositions preclude acknowledging the reality of God, the supernatural, divine Providence, unchanging truth and good, and an afterlife.  Its restrictive and reductive assumptions provide no evidence of open-mindedness.  They reflect rather a dogmatic closed-mindedness to comprehensive truth.  While splitting atoms and chasing quarks in search of an ultimate explanatory principle, naturalism's intellectuals have lost the infinite and omnipresent Deity.

"Neither science nor democracy arose independently of Christian influences in the West.  Yet the Christian mission is not reducible to scientific and technological advancement or to the victory of democracy.  Some have lived in the best societies but have lost the pearl of great price; others have found it who have lived in the most decadent societies.  Nor will Christianity be a failure if in the third millennium Christians are outnumbered.  Neither Jesus nor Paul taught that believers would be a majority movement, and both warned of impending persecution as the cost of discipleship.  But they remind us still that those who accept Christ's proffered place in the kingdom of God are the blessed both in this life and the next.

"The Western World's present defection from the Bible is not the last word.  Unfolding judgment is already underway; a death-warrant hangs over modernity, both in the present millennium and in eternity to come."    

~ Carl F. H. Henry, "Christianity and Resurgent Paganism" (1990), found in gods of this age or...God of The Ages? (Broadman & Holman, 1994)

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