I’ve been thinking about what C. S. Lewis called “Chronological Snobbery.” Chronological Snobbery is the arrogance of measuring every age against our own age. It is the foolish short-sightedness of thinking we are living in the best days of the church. The folly of chronological snobbery is erecting a false standard of Christian vitality and holiness and measuring ourselves against it. We are willing to settle for a thin-soup, weak-tea version of the Christian faith that is not vital enough to triumph over sin and the flesh. The breath of God is not on it. It may entertain or arouse the shallow curiosity of many with its style and but it does not result in holy living and holy dying.
We have aggressive distribution, clever marketing, professional entertainment, moving music, impressive buildings, radio networks, charismatic personalities, and celebrity endorsements. None of these are a substitute for the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit that can radically transform a sinner into a saint of God.
I once heard it said the revival is when the world moves toward the church and apostasy is when the church moves toward the world. Either way the world is in the church. In revival there is holiness in the pulpit and in the pew. In apostasy there is holiness neither in pulpit or the pew.
Our most popular books and preachers cast doubt on the great historic verities of the Christian faith and use the language of the bar room and the pool hall. When my grandfather got saved he was immediately set free from habits that harmed his body. He gave up his old way of talking. He had a new hunger to see other people’s lives changed.
Compare some of the most popular evangelical books with books like, “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.” Think about the contemporary pulpit. It is often a place for pop-psychology, comedy routines, and motivational talks with bible verses added. Now– “Google” Spurgeon and just compare. Where is the appeal to the conscience of the sinner? Where is the great proclamation of the glory of the gospel.
Should we be satisfied with religious “business as usual” and settle for a version of Christianity that has little power to free men and women from bondage to sin? Should we really franchise a version of the church that is not pulling a new generation upward to God? Should we endorse a Christianity that cannot produce an army of devoted young men and women who are willing to live above the world? Should we not weep and mourn and grieve that Christianity as we know it in our day is not cementing marriages in life-long love relationships? Should we be proud of the fact that our churches cannot produce strong, stable families?
Were are the men of God, whose hearts are pure and whose lives are honorable? Where are the women of God, holy women who have rejected the lure of the world and devoted themselves to making their homes holy places that forge within them the very character of the nation. Where are the young men who are pure in thought and deed, noble and filled with virtue and courage and holy vision? Where are the young women who are pure in heart and body and hungry for God? Where are the young women who have turned their back on the world and its foolishness and distanced themselves from its shallow, sensual, godlessness? Where are the young ladies like Amy Carmichel, Gladys Alward, Ann Judson, and Sarah Edwards?
May God deliver us from the foolishness of measuring our faith without taking into account what He is doing in other parts of the world and what He has done in other times.
November 6, 2006