Secularity and the Gospel: Being Missionaries to Our Children - Ronald Rolheiser
Ronald Rolheiser has put together a fine book on the church's engagement with secularity that is carefully nuanced in order to deal with the complexity of secularity.
What is secularity? "Secularity is a term coined (c. 1850) to denote a system which sought to order and interpret life on principles taken solely from this world, without recourse to belief in God and a future world. Given this background, the term today more generally designates the tendency to ignore, if not to deny, the principles of supernatural religion" (39).
In spite of its philosophical stance, secularity is not automatically the enemy of the church or faith. Oftentimes, its response to faith and religion is not hostile, but mixed, ambiguous, or indifferent. Possible attitudes of secular cultures to religion run the gamut from hostility ("The sooner the churches are eliminated, the better!") to intellectual condescension ("These poor folks still actually believe in another world!"), to indifference ("God, faith, and the church are a non-factor!"), to a positive, vital relationship that looks to God, faith, and church to be key players in the search for wholeness, peace, and security in a post-September 11, postmodern, and post-secure world ("Today we need God, faith, and the churches more than ever!") (40-41).
Because of the complexities of secularity, the church's response to the challenge of secularity must be nuanced. Secularity is not our enemy, but the child of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but like an immature adolescent, it often fails to appreciate what it has drawn from its parents. Critics of secularity must not forget its relative strengths.
We dwell in a secular world, but we believe in a sacramental world - a world alive in God, created by God for God. We believe that the meaning of the world is not found within the world but beyond the world in God. The gospel is about God invading our world in Christ. The gospel will always clash with secularity. Reason is not the ultimate authority. Matter is not all that matters. And yet in spite of its extremes, secularity has much to commend it. We then, would do well, to affirm its positives, while critiquing its negatives. We do this by negotiating the difficult stance of being "in the world but not of the world."
For my extended summary click HERE.