Once upon a time, theology was known as the Queen of Sciences. This was during a time when the European universities were built to express a Christian culture’s attempts at understanding a Christian world. In fact, the term “university” meant “unity amidst diversity.” All the separate faculties on campus were describing a singular reality. And it was deemed that this reality was evidently a Christian one. Math, biology, physics, anthropology and logic were separate disciplines that offered their own unique angle on the same, ultimate subject: God. So it made sense that of all the faculties, theology was the end point of all knowledge. Hence its status as the crown of the campus.
Fast forward to the modern secular university in Europe and North America. The new queen is evolutionary theory. Mathematics describes the language of a dead machine universe that whirls away and produces order and randomness. Without meaning, feeling or purpose. Biology manifests this controlled chaos by charting the rights and lefts that evolution has taken on its wandering walk to nowhere. Ethics is quite simply whatever most people (in the West) think is right.
Although it began long ago — mostly in the 18th century — the growing secularization of the West is reaching a near full bloom. There appears to be nowhere that secularism will not reach to vigorously erase all traces of Judeo-Christianity. The rise of the homosexual family, the ability to abort any baby, at (almost) any time for any reason and the nanny welfare state are transforming our world into a place where no one needs to check their impulses. There is no sign of Absolute Morality anywhere, so people compare themselves to themselves. Not perfection. Having come to believe we are simply animals, we are now behaving like them.
In fact, there may be coming a time when our obsession with devaluing humanity and elevating animal life reaches a point where a fire fighter will genuinely be torn by having to decide whether he should first save the family baby or the family pet.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
– Romans 1:22-23
What is the Christian to do in such times? First, we recognize that we should “not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12) There have been more debauched times in Christian history than the 21st century. Most western Christians are beginning to feel acute ostracization amongst family members and co-workers but not outright physical harm. And even should harm come, we must realize that this purifies us and helps to highlight to non-believers the difference between Christians and the rest of the world. Because ultimately, despite the advertisements to the contrary, this world is split into two, and only two camps. Those that are being saved, and those that are perishing.
Second, we must remember that earth still exists because God is birthing new souls that will ultimately be our best friends in eternity. People we will love forever have still not yet been born. And Christians remain on this battlefield to be salt and light to the world. To help harvest saved souls and store them into God’s barns. Just as those that came before us worked for our salvation, we must remember that this life is incredibly short and has only one real purpose: evangelism.
Lastly, remind yourself that true happiness is not found in security or comfort. If it was, the depression rates in the West since the baby boomer generation would not be 6 times those of the World War 2 generation and the modern Third World. God can offer real comfort and real happiness, even in the midst of trial and suffering. In fact, it is often His best tool to pry our hands off our idols. Whom He loves, He chastises as a son.
I am not offering any practical solutions to living as a believer in darkening times, but I am reminding myself and my fellow Christians that our society is emerging as incompatible with the God that gave it a universe and an earth to live on. And that this was predicted. It is going to get darker before the morning. And that we will receive the strength to carry on in the valley of the shadow of death. Fear not.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.