What is causing our world’s descent into moral chaos? In his article in the last issue Dr. Outler looked beneath symptoms to the root cause: radical secularism has rejected the sacred and deified the human. Paradoxically, by losing the sacred it has lost the truly human as well. The solution is found not in a return to the sacral tyrannies of Tutankhamen or Innocent III, but in the justifying faith that grounds God’s sacred order in the texture of Christian freedom.
In this article, Dr. Outler presents more precise proofs of secularism’s failure, including its devastation of the realms of law and of marriage. He sees its answers—the cults of “success,” psychological nostrums, and secular supernaturalism—as merely the self-centered reciprocal of the loss of the sacred. But in Romans 8 we find the gospel answer: a return to the sacred through Jesus Christ.
Since time immemorial, the sense of the sacred has connoted a specific human sensibility of the transcendent (this was Rudolf Otto’s main point). Homo sapiens is, by his Creator’s design, homo religiosus. Of all God’s creations, the human uniquely bears the image of God. Even in its defacement by sin, this has not been totally eradicated; and insofar as it continues to exist, it defines “the human.” This means that human life and society have always been sacralized in some sense and in some measure—and still are, even if now only latently. There is no truly human self-awareness apart from an accompanying awareness of being grasped by, immersed in, suffused with, the sacred order.
There is a consensus to this effect among most historians of religion—men as diverse as Émile Durkheim, Julian Haynes, Gerardus Van Der Leeuw, Mircea Eliade, Geoffrey Parrinder, even Claude Lévi-Strauss ...1
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