Historians trained in the reading of the genealogy of ideas via historical facticities will reckon that the current secular age we find ourselves in – an age where a religious paradigm and thought form is relegated to the periphery – is the outcome of the Enlightenment period, a time where western man began to fashion himself over against the motifs of a Judeo-Christian worldview. With the rise of modern science, new political structures, and a humanism divorced from traditions and established ideologies, the modern period ushered in an age of the “free man” – that individual no longer bound to ancient authority. God construed in theistic terms slowly began to collapse into a deistic God: distant, cold, detached, designer of all, uninvolved. This practical atheism that deism unintentionally produced morphed into a robust, out of the closet atheism, powerfully expressed, for instance, in the writings of Nietzsche and Sartre. And while modernism rests on the values and ethos of the Judeo-Christian worldview, an ethic hijack from the religious for the sake of the secular, it fails to substantiate such values ontologically since it does not and cannot hold on to a metaphysics that would at once overturn the modernistic moment. And so, as some have said, the advent of post-modernism is nothing more than a sick philosophy, inwardly rotten, self-festering because it is born out of a nihilistic world, cut off from any objective reality because, out of a nihilistic presupposition, there is no objective reality, no concrete coordinate system to judge or orient oneself, and so all has collapsed into the individual, the radically subjective.  

This is of course something of a caricature. Nevertheless the truth (if I can use such a word) still stands: We in the west are swimming in the sea of the secular. But according to Christianity, unbeknownst to the whole world and by virtue of the great condescension of God, the world has already been stepped in the secular since the Advent of Christ. Ontologically speaking, religious thinking and all that usually comes with it was pushed passed the horizons of human consciousness with the enfleshment, the secularization of God!

Way before the Enlightenment period, the secular triumphed on the cross 2,000 years ago when God, marginalized, rejected and beat up, died. This gave birth to a new religious moment however: God as omnipotent is the weak human under political oppression, for the sake of the world. This is precisely the kind of religious thinking that is subversively secular through and through: A God of love is a God that is dead to political power, religious power, even visible power.

Is it possible that, through the coming-of-age secular world we find ourselves in, the God of love, the Father of Jesus, has, through His Spirit, brought the church closer to the truth of His nature revealed in the First Advent?

It seems to me that when the Christian experiences marginalization, disenfranchisement, even radical persecution – as it was during the early years of the church, she is truly “intimately sharing in the sufferings of Christ.” It is precisely here, in this cultural moment, when the church can move in the power of the Spirit, “knowing the power of his Resurrection.”  

Advertisements