Enlightenment Legacy vs. God’s Legacy

enlightenment, everystockphoto.comIf you go to church and pray regularly, do you ever wonder if there’s supposed to be more than you’re experiencing? What does God really intend your faith and life to be like? I’m not foolish enough to say that every day ought to be a parade of miracles. Most of the time, even in the Bible, life is as normal as normal can be. Yet both then and now God breaks into our normal world. Biblically that’s normal too. But for too many of us it isn’t.


Enlightenment Legacy

Beliefs and expectations of Christians in wealthy modernized nations like America tend to be as influenced by the legacy of the Enlightenment Period as much as the Bible.

The Enlightenment was primarily a philosophical movement in the 1700s that bridged the Western world’s transition into the modern age. Enlightenment thinkers largely rejected previously held social, religious, and political ideas, and instead emphasized rationalism. Human reason, especially anything scientific, was emphasized as the primary way to gain and test knowledge and truth. This propelled the rise of modern science. Unfortunately, this thinking was unfriendly toward faith in general, especially the supernatural—including prayer, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual experience. Because of this I think the era might equally be termed the “Endarkenment Period.”

Christians unwittingly influenced by this thinking will often say they believe in the Bible yet ignore the implications and promises of stories and teachings from Genesis to Revelation. God is in heaven, we are on earth, and someday death will kick us off the planet and we’ll take permanent residence in heaven. Until then God loves us and is somehow with us. And we’re conditioned to assume our thinking is normal.

Another reason believers don’t give more attention to the supernatural is that it doesn’t work in real life the way it does in the movies. We can’t manipulate or control it. Sometimes we get disappointed with God, or don’t see our prayers answered the way we hope. So we lose interest. Who can blame a person for this?


God’s Legacy

I won’t blame anyone. But I will say that if we’re serious about following Jesus, we need to move past such thinking. When the Bible informs our expectations more than our cultural conditioning does, we can expect things to change. We’ll see that the material world is only a part of reality; angels and demons are very real and active; and God really does do supernatural works in our midst.

What if we let go of our conditioning and strove to be biblical in how we live our lives and how we do church. Read the gospels and Acts for what Jesus and the Christians do. The lifestyles of owning little or nothing and the activities of healing, casting out demons, and trusting God for miracles are so foreign to many of us that we wouldn’t know where to begin. The New Testament clearly tells the church to function by spiritual gifts, but too many function by committee. We have book knowledge, but how much do we practice?

Jesus never taught his disciples to minister through programs; he demonstrated how to minister in the manifest power of God. The New Testament church exploded primarily because of God’s presence and power. But nothing in the Bible or in history says God’s presence and power evaporated.

I can’t offer in this article a full course of how to make all these things happen. And besides, it’s more a matter of giving ourselves over to God than of taking another class. I’m simply appealing for more believers to take God’s legacy seriously. Understanding will follow willingness.


Being God’s Hand

People in this postmodern age are often skeptical and jaded. They won’t respond much to Christian claims, and I don’t blame them. They want to see something work, not just hear about it. They want something real, authentic, that takes them beyond themselves, yet is practiced in a community of people who care about each other. This is exactly the model we see in the New Testament.

I hear a lot, and even teach, about how churches need to reach out in relevant ways to people in our changing culture. But I hear little about how churches need to operate in the supernatural and train people to exercise their God-given spiritual gifts. Isn’t that part of effective outreach?

One of the hard things about operating in the supernatural (and a reason a lot of us don’t) is that we can’t control it. But we’re not supposed to. We can only seek it and go with it when it manifests. This again is exactly what we see God intending in every story of the Bible. He intends that we humbly submit to him and live by faith.

Stepping beyond our conditioning can be hard. But if we’re hungry enough for God, we will. We will have to overcome doubts, unanswered prayer, and testing. We will have to go against the grain of the Enlightenment-influenced church. And when we do, we’ll increasingly live with something better: the life-changing presence and power of God.

—-

Photo credit: dbking   www.flickr.com

10 Responses

  1. youtube.com
    youtube.com February 13, 2014 at 6:09 am · Reply

    Hi terrific website! Does running a blog like this
    take a large amount of work? I’ve absolutely no expertise in
    computer programming however I had been hoping to start my own blog soon.
    Anyway, should you have any suggestions or tips
    for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off
    topic but I just needed to ask. Thank you!

    1. Peter Lundell
      Peter Lundell February 14, 2014 at 10:30 am · Reply

      Creating it and getting it to work well takes a lot of work, most of which I pay a professional to do as per my ideas and requests. Once it’s going it doesn’t take that much work. But it does need periodic maintenance and fixing.

      Use WordPress.org if you want a site like this. Or WordPress.com if you want to do something simpler and cheaper with their existing templates.

      I also recommend checking out http://www.authormedia.com, as well as copyblogger.com.

  2. baby boy baby first birthday gift ideas
    baby boy baby first birthday gift ideas February 13, 2014 at 6:18 am · Reply

    You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I find this topic to be really
    one thing that I feel I might by no means understand. It kind of
    feels too complex and very large for me. I am taking a look ahead on your subsequent put up, I will try to get the
    hold of it!

    1. Peter Lundell
      Peter Lundell February 14, 2014 at 10:38 am · Reply

      I understand what you’re saying. I don’t mean to say it’s a simple or easy topic. What I typically do in my writing and speaking is cut through all the layers of complications and complexities–that people get lost in and never go anywhere–to get down to fundamental, core issues.

      Once we identify them, even if we don’t fully unpack or explain them (which could go off into another forest of complexities), we can get enough of an idea of what’s generally going on so that we can make a decision and do something about it.

      This side of heaven we’ll never have a perfect understanding of anything. But in most areas of life, we can get enough of an imperfect grasp on something. Then with a humble heart and an open mind, we can find our way. I have found God to be very responsive to that.

  3. Kindle fire hd reviews
    Kindle fire hd reviews February 22, 2014 at 11:14 am · Reply

    Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just
    your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything.

    Nevertheless imagine if you added some great images or videos to give your posts
    more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this site could undeniably be one of the best in its niche.
    Superb blog!

  4. comprar tablets
    comprar tablets July 31, 2014 at 8:50 pm · Reply

    Hey there I am so grateful I found your blog page, I really found
    you by error, while I was browsing on Google for something else, Anyhow I am here
    now and would just like to say thank you for a incredible post and
    a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read
    through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back
    to read more, Please do keep up the fantastic jo.

  5. Josefina
    Josefina August 15, 2014 at 1:37 am · Reply

    The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my
    iphone and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is
    now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with
    someone!

  6. d80 digital camera
    d80 digital camera August 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm · Reply

    Great blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there
    that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Thanks!

Leave a Reply