I’m Retiring “Post-Christian” from My Vocabulary

I have been using the phrase “post-Christian” in sermons for a while now to try to help my congregants navigate our society. But I have decided to retire it. I had been using the term because it does accurately capture the loss of a “center” in American culture. This center consisted of concepts such as the existence of God, the moral nature of the universe, and the need for personal virtue as expressed in classic Judeo-Christian ethics such as the 10 Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. The younger generations have been robbed of these foundations, leaving the secular gods to battle it out for dominance. So “post-Christian” captured that. However:

white printer paper with black text

“Post-Christian” is not accurate because nothing can be post-Christian.

Christianity will be the only religion standing because Christ will be the last one standing: everyone else will be kneeling. Like all generations we can only see backwards in time from our place in history, so we tend to view ourselves as indicative of how things are going to go: we have never learned the lesson of Ozymandias. But God is the God of the unexpected. The God who sees the end from the beginning. The God who humbles empires and exalts the humble. The God who directs the progress of His great salvation like a river through time. The eschaton towards which we are inexorably marching is an eternity of God pouring out His love on us through Christ Jesus, and there is no end to this marriage feast. There is nothing on the other side, so nothing is truly post-Christian.

“Post-Christian” is not accurate because the fundamental nature of the world has not changed and only Christianity can account for it with any sort of philosophical coherence.

The world is constantly trying to progress with no clue what it is they are progressing towards. Invariably, the world winds up producing philosophies that cannot account for the way the world actually is, and so they have to fall back on pretending the nature of the created world is different than what it is. This is why worldly philosophies are schizophrenic. Nietzche promotes the superman but he is a sickly little fellow. Cultural Marxists desperately acquire power while maintaining that the powerful are ruining the world. Post-modernists boast in the axiom that there are no axioms. Materialists claim there is nothing but matter and yet have invented gender. Only the unexpected contours of Christian doctrine trace the strange contours of the world in which we live. So the world God created will always be best described by the Book that God wrote.

Third, “post-Christian” wrongly implies that the best times are behind us.

It implies that Christianity had been tried and discarded as somehow unsuitable.

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

GK Chesterton

The thing about discarded religions and philosophies is that they become paragraphs or chapters in academic works, whereas Christianity is constantly being reborn from generation to generation. If you want to learn about Stoicism then you’ll have to pick up a book; if you want to learn about Christianity you go to a church. It would be more accurate to say that our current world is a Pre-Christian world. And because of this, we have hope that the younger generations (like the Millenials and the I-Gens) will turn to God in greater numbers and with greater passion than we expect.

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