It’s hard to avoid feeling discouraged these days. These feel like unprecedented times, and in many ways, they are. However, one thing is not unprecedented: sin. The fallen nature of man has always been here since Adam. It expresses itself one way and then another, depending on the fashions of the time. Even when it’s restrained for a time, it is always there, working in the background, waiting to break out into the open. So while it’s easy to let yourself feel lost and even helpless in the face of a rapidly changing culture, in a sense nothing has changed—not the root problem and not our commanded response. The problem continues to be sin as expressed according to the bad ideas of the time, and the response commanded of us continues to be to “destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5) in a way that accords with the constraints of righteousness.
I was reminded of this again as I read Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, a book explaining the intellectual roots behind the cultural issues we now find ourselves facing (see a short summary and review here). He reminds us that while our particular situation may be new, our task has not changed:
[T]his book is not a lament for a lost golden age or even for the parlous state of culture as we now face it. Lamentation is popular in many conservative and Christian circles, and I have indulged in it a few times myself…. But in terms of positive action, lamentation offers little and delivers less. As for the notion of some lost golden age, it is truly very hard for any competent historian to be nostalgic. What past times were better than the present? An era before antibiotics when childbirth or even minor cuts might lead to septicemia and death? The great days of the nineteenth century when the church was culturally powerful and marriage was between one man and one woman for life but little children worked in factories and swept chimneys? Perhaps the Great Depression? The Second World War? The era of Vietnam? Every age has had its darkness and its dangers. The task of the Christian is not to whine about the moment in which he or she lives but to understand its problems and respond appropriately to them. [Emphasis added.]
This is the task of every Christian, but especially of you—the Christian who has a God-given desire to study ideas, explain them to others, and reach out to those who disagree, the Christian who visits Stand to Reason for just this purpose. Now is not the time to give up or despair. Now is the precise time for which we have been training our mind and character. As Paul said to Timothy,
[E]vil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…. (2 Tim. 3:13–14)
Continue. Keep moving forward. Keep doing the job you’ve been called to do, speaking the truth in love and righteousness for the good of your neighbor, to the glory of God.