Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Subtlety of Modernity

Evangelicals are antimodern only across a narrow front; I write from a position that is antimodern across the entire front.  It is only where assumptions in culture directly and obviously contradict articles of faith that most evangelicals become aroused and rise up to battle "secular humanism"; aside from these specific matters, they tend to view culture as neutral and harmless.  More than that, they often view culture as a partner amenable to being coopted in the cause of celebrating Christian truth.  I cannot share that naivete; indeed, I consider it dangerous.  Culture is laden with values, many of which work to rearrange the substance of faith, even when they are mediated to us through the benefits that the modern world also bestows upon us.  Technology is a case in point.  While it has greatly enhanced many of our capabilities and spread its largess across the entirety of our life, it also brings with it an almost inevitable naturalism and an ethic that equates what is efficient with what is good.  Technology per se does not assault the gospel, but a
technological society will find the gospel irrelevant.  What can be said of technology can also be said of many other facets of culture that are similarly laden with values.  It is the failure to see this and to see how, in consequence, evangelical faith is being transformed that is now greatly straining its connections to historic Protestant orthodoxy.  It is precisely because I reject belief in the modern world that I am able to believe in the truth that this orthodoxy seeks to preserve.  It is because many evangelicals believe in the innocence of modern culture and for that reason exploit it and are exploited by it that they are unable to believe in all of the truth that once characterized this Protestant orthodoxy.  In the current typology, evangelicals are typically moderns in their orientation; this book is insistently antimodern.

--David Wells, No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, p. 11
This book was written in 1993.  But, over 20 years later, it reads as though it were written today.

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