Illogic Primer Quotes Clippings Books and Bibliography Paper Trails Links Film

JP Moreland on the Church in the West and the Secular Elite

JP Moreland, "Afterword: Reflections on the Journey Ahead" in Loving God With Your Mind (Moody Publishers: 2014).

I came to Jesus in the middle of the Jesus Movement in 1968, and early on I came to value the life of the Christian mind, an inner heart that is healthy and becoming like Jesus, a supernatural interaction with God and His kingdom, and community and friendship in which we cheer for each other and rejoice in others’ successes, all aimed at honoring God and fulfilling the Great Commission. Accordingly, the purpose of my life since then has been to embody these values in order to know, serve and enjoy God and to enlist, equip, and aid as many as possible to join me in the pilgrimage.

I went into vocational ministry in 1970. As of this writing, I have continued in that calling for forty-three years. While not without its difficulties, to be honest, it has been the greatest adventure I could imagine. During that time, I have witnessed a number of encouraging trends. Foremost is the staggering spread of Christianity going on all around the world today, much of it based on signs and wonders, signaling the invasion of God’s kingdom into cultural contexts open to that sort of invasion. In American culture, the emergence of conservative Christian scholarship in philosophy, New Testament studies, and the Intelligent Design movement are very encouraging, and I urge Christian thinkers in other fields to imitate what is going on in these movements. I am also heartened by the growing apologetics movement in the United States, the revitalization of supernatural Christianity in the Third Wave movement of the 1980s (while admitting it was and is sometimes characterized by unhelpful, unbiblical excesses), and the emergence of the spiritual formation movement due to the writings of Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Henry Nouwen, and others.

In spite of these gains, I cannot help but think that we are losing the struggle for the hearts and minds of folks in our culture. The growth of a vocal and highly influential secular elite is something Christians have largely been unable to stop or infiltrate. The Church is far too trivial and formatively shallow to be counted on to produce a counterculture of Jesus followers whose individual and corporate lives are intrinsically exemplary and profound. And compared to our Third World brothers and sisters, our expectations in prayer and the supernatural are pretty low.

The secularization of the culture, and the concomitant marginalization of ethics, theology, and biblical teaching to Francis Schaeffer’s upper story, are my deepest concerns for the future. Speaking of the negative impact of secularism, of which scientism is a part, Dallas Willard warns that:

the crushing weight of the secular outlook … permeates or pressures every thought we have today. Sometimes it even forces those who self-identify as Christian teachers to set aside Jesus’ plain statements about the reality and total relevance of the kingdom of God and replace them with philosophical speculations whose only recommendation is their consistency with a “modern” [i.e.,  [i.e., contemporary] mindset. The powerful though vague and unsubstantiated presumption is that something has been found out that renders a spiritual understanding of reality in the manner of Jesus simply foolish to those who are “in the know.”