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Christianity in the Face of Modernity

Wed, Mar. 08, 2017 Posted: 11:07 PM

Can we still have a religion that dates back 2000 years? Is Christianity out of date? Can there not be progress in religion as in any field, and should we not relegate this ancient Christian religion to the ray of antiquity? Some think so. It must be said that there is a considerable discrepancy between the social, cultural and intellectual context of its founding texts and our own.

There is, between Christian revelation and our contemporary live news stream society, very wide discrepancies, faults, mentality, representation of the world, scientific knowledge, physical knowledge and also knowledge of man, whether in the field of Medicine or the psychology of the depths.

There are also fundamental differences of preoccupation, way of life and culture which make it obvious that the religion of the time of the first Christians is no longer possible today.

The only solution for Christianity, then, is to adapt, otherwise it is condemned, which is true of all the living organisms in this world.

Some religious movements nevertheless refused to evolve; they then cut off the world to become a sect. This is the case of the Amish who refuse modern progress. This is not the image we want of religion. And again, the Amish date from three hundred years ago. Think of the religion that would be necessary if we refused to evolve from Christ, i.e. from the Middle East of 2000 years ago!

Today it is impossible to claim to have the religion of Christ or at least of the Apostles or the first disciples. The Acts of the Apostles cannot be for us a model of religion, what is described there corresponds to a certain culture, a place, an epoch. Our context is totally different, we do not have the same questions, not the same look at the world, our way of life is quite different, and religion cannot be the same.

The question then arises as to how far to adapt it. Is it enough to say that even though Jesus walked in sandals with long hair and a large beard, we admit that the pastors of today dress themselves differently, or should we go further? What can we change in our religion, without making him lose his soul? What does it mean to remain faithful while re-interpreting? And if we speak of modernity, what is there in modernity that must be taken into consideration?

What do we expect from religion? Should it remain confined to elitist circles, the kind of conservatories where we would meet on Sunday between very cultured people, to say things completely out of step with the modern world? The young people would then say: "These people are completely crazy; what they do has nothing to do with our existence," without being really wrong. Do we want to carry out historical reconstruction, or do we want a religion that can speak to people today where they are?

Our answer is clear. If we want Christianity to have a future, to find a place in our culture and in the modern world, it must adapt and be adapted by those who preach it.

Lara Sen