WHI-1229 | Renaissance

Sunday, 26 Oct 2014

This week on the White Horse Inn Dr. Michael Horton is speaking with special guest Os Guinness who was the lead drafter of both the Williamsburg Charter and the Global Charter of Conscience, as well as the founder of the Trinity Forum. He is a prolific social critic, authoring several books including his recent work, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times. In this interview, Guinness evaluates our culture and our faith in the West. How has modernity altered that faith? How has pluralism and consumerism come to change Christianity? What hope do we have in such cultural darkness? Join us in this special interview as we discuss these important questions.

GUEST QUOTE
“Many people have gone to the other extreme. They don’t realize we have been secularized, not in that total way people expected, but in subtle ways. For instance, you take the secularization of consciousness. As Peter Berger says, in the pre-modern world the unseen was not unreal, and even for pagans or animists, not only Christians, the unseen was more important than the seen. But in our modern world the unseen is unreal. You can see that many Christians have a view of prayer or the supernatural but it’s kind of theologically abstract and operationally they live in the “real world” – science, management, all these sort of things – and God might as well not be there in terms of the supernatural. In other words, many Evangelicals are functional atheists who are much more secularized than people realize.”
– Os Guinness
 
TERM TO LEARN
Secularization Thesis
The Secularization Thesis defines a relatively simple cultural process. As societies modernize, they become less religious. This secularization is both external (a gradual fading of a particular religion from the public square) and internal (a gradual transformation and accommodation of traditional religions themselves). The typical factors of secularization include a gradual weakening of social power and a difficulty in socializing children in the faith. Without the affirmation of a particular religion in public, the individual is left to the support of the family, church, school, or the wider subculture of believers. Beliefs and practices once considered normal are now considered odd, and perhaps even antisocial. When religion becomes socially awkward, children no longer accept what their families believe because it fails to make sense of their reality.
The thesis does not argue that spirituality will disappear—rather, faith will take on less of a public role and will no longer be tied to institutions with public demands upon those who believe. The once objective norms of practice and doctrine are transformed into private therapies. Internal secularization is particularly evident as doctrine and practice is psychologized (i.e., what we think about God) and subjectivized (i.e., how we feel about God). This process affects both conservative and liberal Christians at every level of development and commitment, in faith and practice. Secularization happens, not just by people leaving religion or the church, but by internal assimilation to the culture, adopting its methods and means, and disconnecting the articles of the faith from daily practice.
(Adapted from Michael Horton’s “The Secularization Thesis,” Modern Reformation: “Secularizing Religion” Sept./Oct. 2013 Vol. 22 No. 5 Page number(s): 26-41)
 
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