Much is being written in our time about the probable shape of the Christian Church in the decades ahead. It is currently fashionable to use such clichés as “the post-Christian era” and “man come of age” to describe the coming role of the Church. Conventional wisdom has it that if the Church is to survive, it must come to terms with technopolitan man “with all of his secularity and profaneness.”

Judgments implied by the words “post-Christian era” have gained acceptance by repetition rather than by logic. One is astonished, upon reflection, at the naïveté of those who assume we have passed through a genuinely Christian epoch from which Modern Man has emerged.

One day, scholars may look back with amazement at how religious thinkers of the sixties and seventies have taken at face value the depressed view of a man who translated his own helplessness in a Nazi prison into terms of God’s powerlessness. More astonishing still is the acceptance, by scholars who were not in prison for resisting a godless tyranny, of the view that persons young and old who shrieked mindlessly in Nuremberg for a triumph of Hitler’s armies represented mankind come of age. We can respect the courage and dedication of Dietrich Bonhoeffer without being under obligation to accept his theological judgments.

Since Hegel, it has been fashionable for those who formulate philosophies of history to find culmination in the events of their own present. Few have been able to resist the temptation to paint their own generation, their own group, or even themselves into the picture in a self-congratulatory manner. We wonder whether the “secular theologians” have not fallen into the same intellectual trap.

D. Elton Trueblood has projected the “shape” of the Christian in ...

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