Dooyeweerd, a Dutch Philosopher made this observation: In each era since we turned away from the Bible’s God, our culture has been shaped by one or more ‘god-substitutes’. These aren’t gods that we actually ‘worship’, but they’re the next thing to it. They’re the things that ‘matter most’ to us, the principles that dominate our lives, determining our sense of what’s important; the sources we look to for truth and meaning, for the understanding of right and wrong. Our culture’s story is, among other things, the history of successive ‘god-substitutes’, and of how well they ‘reign’ as our gods. One after another they hold this role, until their inadequacies become obvious; then we lose faith in them, they are replaced by a different ‘god’, and the story begins again.
What a thoroughly accurate analysis of our present culture. We live in a postmodern culture which has an aversion to any type of overarching narrative or worldview which attempts to state the realities of what is actually going on in our world and who or what is the cause of what we see and know about the world around us. Our culture thrives at the present on the freedom to create and live by whatever ‘god-substitute’ they choose to help them make sense of and live in this world. For some, that may be a deity. For others, it may be self. A grand narrative or worldview that is presented as truth is quickly attacked as being just another power play or a form of control that those pushing some religious belief are trying to force on others.
This is one of the reasons why Christianity is under such an attack. Christianity affirms a standard set by God which applies to all of creation and by which all will be held accountable. In a world that does not like absolute moral standards, this is seen as offensive, close-minded and oppressive. The term that is often thrown at Christians is that we are judgmental and are calling for people to respond to the commands of a God who stands as Judge of all men’s actions. In reality, what Christians are doing is not passing judgment on anyone. We are not the judge. God is the Judge and He is calling us to inform others that though judgment for our sins has already been passed because as Romans 3:23 teaches, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And further Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” So what Christians are really doing is informing the broken and lost world that a gift has been given. They are guilty just like we all are but someone has paid their debt- Jesus Christ. God in the flesh.
So yes, as Christians, we are called to announce that the world stands in judgment for their sin. We are not to blindly let people believe that moral standards are subjective. They are not. The one who Designs is the One who gets to Define expectations. But the Gospel message is that Jesus has redeemed us from that sin and its penalty. What is happening today is people are running from what they already sense inside. The moral code was written on all our hearts. We can attempt to ease our guilt with whatever ‘god-substitutes’ we want but the truth is they will all just fall short. As Dooyeweerd stated their inadequacies will become obvious. So Church, let’s proclaim freedom from the brokenness and let’s help people see sin as sin so that they can see clearly their need for a Savior. But most of all let us do this with a loving spirit remembering that we all have sinned.