Much is being said these days about the need for a radical reappraisal of the attitude of the Christian and of the Church toward the world. The thrust of a great deal of this discussion is that the antithesis between Church and world should be resolved by an identification of the sacred and the secular, so that the Christian unreservedly accepts the world as the bearer of all that is significant in the “sacred.”
Those who have set themselves to the task of articulating the “New Worldliness” feel they must give their religio-cultural projections a sociological setting. They show indebtedness to the sociological theory of Émile Durkheim and to such schemes of cultural history as that of Auguste Comte. And they tend to regard the emerging megacity as the best milieu for elaboration of the desacralized culture.
The secularizing process, admittedly not new, is said to culminate in a world of “man come of age,” in which, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “men as they now are simply cannot be religious any more.” It is supposed that as mankind reaches its cultural and spiritual “majority,” God must systematically decrease. Redemption, in the Christian sense, simply becomes irrelevant, since it points to a supposedly absurd otherworldliness.
Man’s alleged attainment of adulthood coincides with the fantastic increase in human population. Thus the urbanization of the world seems a correlate of the coming-of-age of man. The megacity is accepted as the normative sociological and cultural form for the world of tomorrow. Much of the reading public today is aware of the essential theses of Harvey Cox’s The Secular City, in which the major structures of urban life are ...1
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