The Secularization Thesis

I recently read through a thought provoking article on the Modern Reformation site entitled ‘The Secularization Thesis’ (you can find it here) and wanted to share the closing paragraphs.

Second, even if the ST is correct, it is—like all other natural explanations—limited in its predictive power. It can only tell us what normally happens under certain conditions. A doctor can tell you what is likely to happen given various factors of genes, diet, habits, and exercise. Apart from Christ’s resurrection from the dead, there is no evidence in this world that we will be raised—and much in our present condition to count against that hope. Astrophysicists can predict with remarkable mathematical precision the likelihood that our expanding universe will collapse in on itself at some point in the future. Using mathematical formulas, Las Vegas bookies can predict with stupefying accuracy the outcome of the World Series. Sophisticated methods of calculative analysis are not simply entertaining; they are often crucial and even life-saving. But they only cover the natural explanations—how things ordinarily go, things being what they are. They can’t account for the sudden recovery from cancer that defies the odds, the second coming of Christ, or the career of Babe Ruth.

There is no way of predicting the emergence of the church from a nucleus of eleven terrified followers of a crucified Jew whose leader had denied—to a little girl—even knowing Jesus. And, given its history ever since, there is no way of explaining the existence of the church today, much less its spread to the ends of the earth, in natural terms. It’s a miracle. Repentance and faith are gifts. We are born again from above. Given the conditions of modernization, secularization will continue as one of the many regimes of this fading age. Yet it’s the one who was raised from the dead, against all odds, who has the last word: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

In general, the whole article gives reason for despair as we see the world (and often the church) charging headlong into a future devoid of any substantial relationship with the risen, living Christ. But as my courage retreated and my heart failed, Michael Horton injects profound Biblical hope.

Given the conditions of modernization, secularization will continue as one of the many regimes of this fading age. Yet it’s the one who was raised from the dead, against all odds, who has the last word: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

To the praise of His glory!

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