As went the university, so went catechism class. A typical religious education textbook from the post–Vatican II period wouldn’t deny basic Christian teachings like the Resurrection and the Atonement, or specifically Catholic concepts like purgatory and the intercession of the saints—but it would often ignore or minimize them, substituting the language of self-actualization and personal growth, until it became hard to distinguish a religious education manual from a typical handbook for building self-esteem. (An eighth-grade Catholic religion text from the late 1970s, entitled Seek, began as follows: I sit at my desk, head cupped in my hands, staring into space. What do I see? I see me. I see myself as doing my own thing, the master of my destiny….(Douthat, Ross Gregory. Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (p. 100). Free Press. Kindle Edition).
Aggressive Darwinian evolution, the abuse of contraception, and the pursuit of self sovereignty with the relativism it includes has levied a mortal wound to the American home and subsequently to each American. The home was no longer necessary and ordained by God. It was a choice and a commitment which could be walked away from at will. The children in these homes became optional which subtracted from the value of the traditional and Biblical view of the home as well. What the culture did not anticipate was that as the home’s value decreased the individual’s social-value and self-worth plummeted as well Just as the housing bubble burst before The Great Recession, the bubble of the American home had burst and there was no place left to build people well.
For those who retained desire to fill their spiritual needs, eastern religions became a viable option. Those religions, in a search for transcendence, actually push their adherents further within themselves. The Biblical worldview would push back against this because the human heart suffers from depravity and would surely be neither Savior nor guide. Unfortunately, the conservative Christian bulwarks had already suffered so much at the hands of theological liberalism that there was not an effective doctrinal pushback and those same conservative Christians had lost their social influence to maintain the status quo.
Christianity continued to struggle with the relativistic age. Doctrinal emphases were minimized. The importance of sin and salvation were neglected in favor of the social gospel, the self-help movement, and moral therapeutic deism. The “clerical class” was no longer viewed as important by the churches or the society. This led ministers to become more invested in pragmatism and self-help messages so that they could gain a following and a salary. Many of the ministers would abandon their post and many more would refuse the ministry so that they could enter more financially profitable endeavors. Ministers and churches shrank together until both began to shrivel.
All these mid-century movements away from theocentric existence led to the environment which nurtured narcissism. This world remains individualistic and relativism rules the day as long as relativistic creed is supported. This culture pretends to fight for acceptance but it is actually pleading to find self-worth from the applause of the culture by becoming one’s own sovereign. Eventually each of these sovereigns will exist either in isolation or in competition for prominence. This leaves no room for the God of the Bible. That God cannot be allowed to exist as he truly is so that each individual can become the god he or she or other desires to be without his interference, approval, or disapproval.
Seek God while he may yet be found.