How shall we live, as society becomes more secular?
A biblical centred morality has been ceding ground to self-centred, subjective morality of the secular world around us. In 1973 no-fault divorce was brought in that diminished the sanctity of marriage. Followed by same-sex marriage being made legal in 2017. Abortion is allowed in all states and territories of Australia with the last being South Australia in 2022. Now there are moves to control who Christian schools can hire and fire. Along with that there is the rise of identity politics redefining sex and gender. How shall we live in this world?
Ep 1 The Roman Age
Culture is based on what it thinks. What it thinks determines how it acts.
When societies break down they become unsafe. To meet the threat of chaos authoritarianism rises.
Rome was great but didn't have answers to the basic problem that all humanity faces. No amount of military power is sufficient for knowing what is right and what is wrong, why do some things and not others.
At first they built their society on the decisions of accepted citizens then the decisions of emperors but it ultimately failed.
Their Gods were just enlarged men and women not divine. Not big enough or permanent enough to guide their thinking so they had no value system strong enough.
In desperation the Romans accepted authoritarianism to restore the functioning of politics, business and daily life.
Christians believed in the one triune God and for them the bible was God's will spoken and God had given them truths.
Culture is fragile, without a sufficient base in time it will collapse.
The Christian had values in which to live, in which to judge the society they lived in.
No authoritarian state can tolerate those who have an absolute to judge that state and it's actions.
Ep 2 The Middle Ages
The pristine Christianity of the New Testament became distorted.
Starting as small groups meeting in homes centred around the reading of scripture they believed in the truth of it, not the religiousness or the experience of it but the truth of it.
Comparing the Early church to the Middle ages art went from realistic to symbolic, music from hymns to chants. The believers went from freely being generous with their property to the luxury of the church.
The challenge of being in the world and not of it: when the state and church are separate as in Rome this is straight forward but when the church and state become entwined then it becomes complicated as it was during the Middle ages.
The medieval church was moving away from early Christianity. It started with authority resting on the bible alone but in the middle ages authority was shared between the bible and the church.
Thomas Aquinas mixed the teachings of the bible with Aristotle. Aristotle emphasised the individual things around us. He leads to the conclusion that truth may be discovered without the bible. The result being that man moves God from the center and places himself there.
The authority of the church took emphasis over the bible. Salvation now become people meriting the grace of Christ instead of Christs' work alone.
Does absolute truth come from a personal God or do we settle for relativistic truth from man?
Ep 3 The Renaissance
The art had a central focus placing man at the center. The artists became known as apposed to the nameless artists of the middle ages.
At the beginning the renaissance could have gone two ways; place nature and man in their proper places but instead man placed himself into the centre.
Music could of focused on real people, living in a real world in which God had made, where all things had importance. Humanism took over where individual things are autonomous. Man made himself independent, autonomous, his own measure.
The renaissance became a rebirth of a pre-christian time of ancient Greek and Rome.
Nothing now has meaning, it just is. We are left with mechanics and even man is viewed as a machine.
The bible is unchanging truth, never old fashion, it speaks to the culture of the day. It is always rooted in the same thing, the existence of an infinite personal God and the death of Christ for us.
Ep 4 The Reformation
The reformation was the turning away from the hmanistic elements that had entered into the church since the middle ages.
The bible, in a persons native language, opened the way for people to come to God directly. There is only one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus.
A Catholic church had made its' authority equal to the bible. The church had added human works that need to be done to the finished work of Christ for salvation. The church had mixed biblical truth with pagan thought.
When God states in the bible what he is like people have truth about God because people are finite they do not have exhaustive knowledge about God. What they do have is truth about God and from he gives us in the scriptures they also have truth about morals, meaning and values. Art reflected the reformation as when Bach writes in his sheet music "God alone be the glory".
People are made in the image of God therefore they have dignity. So all the vocations of life have dignity, King as much as the housewife. But man is fallen.
The reformation had a strong place for culture. They really believed in the lordship of Christ over the whole of life. They saw nature as something wonderful because it was Gods' universe. From this flowed rivers of art as a gift from God, and art became a servant of God.
Humanism has no way to bring meaning or absolutes for morals. Through the reformation we regained direction,the totality of life had beauty and meaning. Man was given a reason for being Great, and a reason for freedom with compelling absolute values.
Humanism centres in autonomous man. Christianity centres in the infinite personal God that had spoken to us through the bible.