As the Christian feels about him the strong currents of contemporary change, he finds himself asking whether our world is heading into the final stages of its long day’s journey into night or facing the dawn of a new day of spiritual resurgence. Are the diabolical forces of man’s rebellion against God that now often masquerade as a quest for authentic human life ushering us into the “post-Christian” era? Or do the uncertainties precipitated by the increasing secularization of life presage a period when men, driven to the sure Word of God, will experience a God-breathed revival of faith in Jesus Christ?
We cannot calculate the course of future events of life in the secular city. Nor can we predict the sovereign action of the Holy Spirit as he moves in the affairs of men. But whether the prospects for penetrating deeply into our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ are bright or dim, every Christian must seriously assume the supreme task Christ has given his Church: to participate actively in the evangelization of all mankind.
Transition and competing claims have constantly challenged the Church in its witness for Christ. Men have always lived in flux. Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette tells the story that Adam, upon being thrust out of the Garden of Eden with his wife, said, “Eve, I believe we are living in an age of transition.” Yet today’s changing patterns, in which the lengthening shadows of secularization and revolutionary unrest are prominent, make our generation qualitatively different from others in modern history.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a prison cell in 1944, “We are proceeding toward a time of no religion at all.” While the German martyr’s claim does not wholly describe our present situation, it is undeniably ...1
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