Why I’m Optimistic Amidst a Cultural Crisis

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Hope never emerges from easy answers to the questions of a broken world. Hope comes from a Person.

We are prone to naivety in regard to reading our current cultural moment. You’ve likely heard someone recently—either in person or online—decry the fact that “society has never been in worse shape,” or that “things are spiraling out of control like never before.” Such clichés ignore the reality of our history that includes centuries of wretched conditions that we have devised while following our depraved hearts. While some things may indeed be bad, in terms of historical perspective, we have often seen much, much worse.

This reality, in reverse, is what C. S. Lewis had in mind when he lamented the “chronological snobbery” of his day. Lewis noted that those alive in his day often spoke and acted in ways that suggested their culture epitomized the high-water mark of human development. Lewis challenged the hubris of this notion by pointing out that human progress will never equate to a utopic movement. Nor is the opposite trend defensible. The modern age, though rife with brokenness and moral deconstruction at every level, does not mark a new low in the devolution of human society.

We have been here before.

No Simple Answers

Missionary disciples paving the way into the future must embrace the tension between these two realities. We must avoid overlaying a blissful airbrushed caricature of this present moment, nor suggest a romanticized, excessively glib sense of what might come in the future. Such proposals will always leave the next generation discouraged when the difficult reality of mission in North America fails to live up to our rose-colored proposals. If the path to missional effectiveness was easy, more churches would risk the status quo of perpetual reinvestment …

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