It used to seem rather pedantic to talk about “transcendence.” The word belonged to learned lectures by theologians who drew careful distinctions between “transcendence” and “immanence,” between God beyond us and God among us. Nowadays, however, especially since the craze for transcendental meditation, “transcendence” has become part of everybody’s vocabulary.

The old materialism no longer satisfies. It prevailed too long anyway. J. H. Woodger, professor of biology in London University (1947–1959), so wise that his friends have always called him “Socrates,” once said to me: “I work in an atmosphere so materialistic that the word ‘spirit’ is never mentioned, unless prefaced by the adjective ‘methylated’!” Against this kind of materialistic secularism many young people are rebelling today. Theodore Roszak gave us an excellent documentation of the youthful revolt against the technocracy in The Making of a Counter Culture (1969). I do not think he claims to be a Christian. So I was all the more struck that when he wanted to express the folly of imagining that scientific technology could satisfy human beings, he felt obliged to resort to the words of Jesus: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

During the last few years increasing numbers of university students have been deserting the faculties of science and technology and enrolling instead in courses on philosophy, history, and literature. They know that reality cannot possibly be confined in a test tube, or smeared on a slide for microscopic examination, or apprehended with cool scientific detachment. They are convinced that there is another dimension to human experience which they like to call “transcendence” and that reality is “awesomely ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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