Defending Christianity in a Secular Culture
Attacks on Christianity and the church are rampant in today’s society. Unbelievers once revered the church and its teachings, but today they scorn them. Films such as The Da Vinci Code and organizations such as The Jesus Seminar attack the credibility of Jesus and the Bible. But how do Christians answer these attacks on Christianity?
Few are as familiar with these attacks as is Ravi Zacharias, president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. For 36 years, Zacharias has traveled the globe debating atheists, defending Christianity on secular campuses, and proclaiming the truth through his daily and weekly radio broadcasts.
Zacharias talked with Enrichment journal’s Associate Editor Richard L. Schoonover and discussed some of the issues facing culture and the church today and how pastors and their congregations can respond to these attacks.
What is destroying the moral and spiritual foundation of today’s society?
Zacharias: I believe a convergence of many factors has taken place. Much of education in the 1960s came unhinged from any moral absolutes and ethical values, to wit the book, Excellence Without a Soul, by Harry R. Lewis. We have seen this happening the last 40 years. There have been many voices alerting us to this. But more than just a philosophy took over; a mood took over.
First, secularization generally held that religious ideas, institutions, and interpretations have lost their social significance. People liked the idea of a secular society and a secular government. But in terms of moral values and ethics, they never checked into the internal assumptions of secularization that made it wide open to almost any view on any subject. Beginning in the 1960s, the moods of secularization ultimately led to society’s loss of shame.
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Next is pluralization, which sounds like a practical and worthy idea; and in many ways, it is. In pluralism you have a competing number of worldviews that are available, and no worldview is dominant. But smuggled in with pluralization was the absolutization of relativism. The only thing we could be sure of was that all moral choices were relative and there was no point of reference to right and wrong. This resulted in the death of reason.
Last is privatization, which is an accommodation to the religiously minded. If secularization and pluralization were going to hold sway, what does society do with the large number of people who are spiritually minded?
Being spiritually minded was okay as long as people kept their spiritual beliefs private and did not bring them into the public arena. The irony of this was the fact secularization — which had its assumptions on absolutes and anything of the metaphysical nature — was allowed into the public place. In fact, its very trust was to bring it into the public place. But anyone who believed in a spiritual Essence, an Ultimate Reality, and the fact there were transcendent absolutes that needed to be adhered to was told to keep those beliefs private. That ultimately paved the way for the loss of meaning…
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