I have this guy who emails me from time to time trying to pick a fight. He tells me how out of date the Church is and how it needs to get with the times and how this is the twenty first century not the first century blah blah blah.
The foundational problem here is the typical progressive fallacy that assumes that somehow or other things are better now than they were before and we are always moving forward into some brave new world. I could never get this. Why should this age necessarily be better than the one before it? Hasn’t someone like C.S.Lewis called this the ‘chronological fallacy’?
Now I like my gadgets as much as anyone else. I think the internet and GPS and my iPhone and email and all the rest of our techno goodies are wonderful. I’m glad we have garbage disposals and zip lock baggies and helicopters and frozen pizzas and handi wipes and air conditioning and a whole list of other stuff, but I don’t imagine that this makes us somehow superior to other human beings in earlier civilizations.
The real question is not, “Are we technologically advanced, but are we morally advanced? Not, are we scientifically advanced, but are we artistically superior? Are we spiritually and culturally superior? I have to answer in the negative. We can cure lots of diseases, but can we create a Chartres Cathedral? We can zip messages across space, but do we pray? We may be technologically slick, but morally, spiritually and artistically we’ve retrogressed.
Therefore, the church to be really relevant (in other words useful) must be totally irrelevant. She must be counter cultural to do any good. When the world says, “Look at this latest gadget! I can send a text message to Outer Mongolia in two seconds.” We should be unimpressed and ask, “But what is the content of your message?” When the world says, “Look we have cured another disease and extended life.” We should say, “Beautiful, but do not mistake quantity for quality. Why should it be good simply to extend life if the person does not use that extra time wisely? Who cares if a person lives fifteen years longer if they do not use that time to prepare for death?” When the world says, “Looky here, we’re going to make everyone happy in this world.” We should say, “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?”