SECULARISM AND CHRISTIANISM
© Carlos Padilla, July 2021
Secularism is a movement seeking a life separated from all that is religious, also to separate from the Bible as the revelation of God, and it intends to leave God out of the daily scenario. However the secular does not mean the same as this movement, but it is a concept that is used to differentiate the daily from what is religious, without seeking a separation from God. The ministry of the Church in the world must revolutionize it, instead of the world revolutionizing the Church with its influence according to each time and the spirit of each society and fashions. In this investigation I will analyze to what level the so called Christian secularism is based in a theology that is affected by a secularized world under postmodernism or if it takes from the world to gain souls for the Christ. Its influence in our way of thinking affects the world vision and philosophy, ethics and moral, and finally life in general. But I will propose that the secular world, also called laic –but not laicist, synonymous of secularist- offers us great tools that the church must use, like technology for the expansion of the Gospel, via social media, internet, TV, radio, or any media that if the apostle Paul had had in his hand would have used, as he did with the Areopagus of Athens. The church must understand that holiness depends on the use and the purpose of what we do with the tools we have in our reach, as it occurs with ethics in genetics. This way I will propose how psychology serves counselling and discipleship, business administration of companies has tools that make Christian ministry better, quality music shows art and entertainment that may be for the glory of God and great Christian enrichment. The Christian can do good deeds and love God from the platforms that the secular world offers through work, but giving glory to God.
SECULARISM IN MINISTRY
Secularism is an atheist and materialist movement that had its uplift in the mid XIX century in England, extended by George Jacob Holyoake –Britannica Encyclopaedia- but we can see its foundation in humanism after the renascence. However in the second half of the XX century with the growth of scepticism and agnosticism, some theologians would plead for a secular Christianism, in such a way that Christian values can be found in matters of daily life in society, where to give testimony in all scopes. Jesus teaches the disciples that even if we live in the world, we are not of the world (Jn. 17:16). To identify if our church or faith is affected by secularism, we can question a few things: a ministry focused in the world’s moral instead of in the Word of God; or that it looks Christian but it does not transform lives; or if the brethren have their hearts focused in the goals of the world, before the Kingdom of God (1 Jn. 2:15-17). We live in a postmodern world that influences ideas against Christianity, therefore the bases of faith in the Bible and in its great Christ centred message is essential to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, knowing that our secular work can be as holy as the one in the ministry, and that in it we can and we must give testimony of the Gospel of Christ (Col. 3:17). As a result, Christian ministry can be benefited from certain secular aspects that will make the message and the Christian life get to those that don’t know God, and also serve as tools for worship and Christian life in the present world. Whether it is technology, social media, TV, philosophical knowledge or music, we must use it all and do it all for the Lord. But secularism that some evangelical leaders have proposed, as it was the case of Bonhoeffer (Erikson comment), saw a more necessary to present man as a Christian that needs to mature as a teenager before God, rather than a salvation as the Gospel teaches, and through this way many have tried to find God in civil movements of human rights where to develop Christianity, and also it no longer has time for metaphysics (Jose María Martinez), focusing its search in the pragmatic.
Origin of the Concepts Secular, Laic and Laicism
Secularism (dictionary) means that a difference is established between the laic or secular and the religious. Also the idea of a sobering state is the separation of powers, church and state, with the intention, a priori that everyone has rights and liberties guaranteed, no matter their origin, sex or religious beliefs. However, both concepts laicism as well as secularism make emphasis in the suffix ism, which takes us to a movement, school or tendency. But, not the concept secular which comes from the Latin secularis which according to the dictionary, as well as century, means time, world, and from there to live in the world.
Technology, TV, Radio, Internet, Social Media
Many Christians are against the use of technology for holy purposes, due to a concept that it relates these tools with the world for evil uses. On the contrary the vast majority of people, whether Christians or not use technology daily. In the times of the pandemic of Covid 19 the churches, the families, the theological seminaries, have benefited from the use of technology as much to evangelize, as to continue with discipleship, to keep in contact visually with family, brethren, church services and theological studies or seminaries. Despite the world gives a different use to these media like TV, radio, or social media can be evil, but are also of great blessing for the Kingdom of God. It all depends of the use that we give them, but our target must be, as well as the great benefit, the holy use and with that to give an example to the world in its adequate use, as well as to our children, showing the principle of self control: the principle of stewardship of time (Ga. 5:15), the principle of control, of moral purity (Phil. 4:8), the principle of growth, of the glory of God (1 Co. 10:13) to offer the image of God to the lost world.
CHURCH AND MISSION VS COMPANY AND WORK
The Church is made of many churches and of all the born again believers, it’s about our centre of community, or reference, we could call the local church our command centre, our congregation place to praise and worship God, our meeting place for families, where we enjoy Christian love, plan the mission of the Gospel, to realize our main mission or great commission to make disciples (Mt. 28:16-20).
On the other hand the secular world, the company or the job are one of the principles that dignify the live of people, and we can find jobs as worthy as the pastor, or to feed the people, or the medical doctors who heal the sick, a carpenter who makes a chair for a hose or a bench for a church. The matter is the ethics of the work when this is seen as a blessing instead of a curse, which allows for man to glorify God (Col. 3:22); work is not the result of the fall (Gn. 3:17-19) but the difficulty to obtain fruits, benefits. It is of great interest to study the effect produced on how we see work from the Catholic and Protestant perspective. Max Webber in his book, provides the statistics of the countries where each confession is majority, and where the conduct of those who profess a protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism exercise their influence are the countries where work produces the greater benefit, and they are the countries with more progress and quality of life, and this is the result of seen work as a way to serve and give glory to God. Our attitude towards work gives testimony that we can do from this secular tool one to serve God in Christ. We must also consider that in the secular world there are conditions of certain jobs that are hard that bitter the worker, unworthy jobs, or illegal, or companies that evade taxes or don’t ensure their employees. The example of our work, ethics and quality or execution has influence in other workers and in the employers to bring them closer to God. The Christian, both when it works for the church or for the company, must follow three ethical principles: Obedience, perseverance and sincerity. The work done for God comes from Him, because God worked (Gn. 1-2), and as we work we develop both the physical dimension as well as the spiritual of the work, like Maxwell comments on the Golden Rule.
Temple, Members, Leadership, Government, Stewardship
The Church’s temple can be a house, a gothic or modern cathedral, a humble commercial premise, or a conventions centre similar to a social or commercial mall. It is a shame to see how in Europe churches are sold to make restaurants or other uses, because there are so many buildings, gothic, roman and not enough congregations, while in Spain and other parts of the world, many churches are in industrial premises or in small shops in streets, or must use lended installations and keep changing place due to lack of resources, due to municipal rules, etc. Many of us have part of our gatherings in homes to avoid this problem. However in the secular world, the company must have large head quarters, or a network of offices that are worthy of attracting clients and maintain a good image. This is a battle within the churches and denominations that should be part of the debate in Christianity as a group. In Spain only the Catholic Church has real estate, or some evangelical churches in Madrid or Barcelona. I know that in Europe is not the case, and are living the emptiness of their churches; I mean buildings.
The members and the leadership of the church today, most of them have changed from living a traditional Christian life ghetto style, to a more missioners life to attract those who do not know God. The structure that was proposed one day to choose both members as well as leadership of the church, as to impact the community is still valid and it provides an excellent platform for strategy to serve the people of God. Whether the leadership is Baptist or congregational for the government of the church, today what is wanted is a good project that covers the needs of all the family and a theology of sound doctrine, not what humanism proposed which today is lived by securlarism, but the true teaching of redemption, essential for the salvation of the soul for eternal life, through repentance and faith in the redemption of the work of Christ on the cross (Eph. 2:16). But many Christian theologians have attached to a liberal and secularist theology that promotes a Christian call without religion, but apologetics proves that the secularist humanist philosophy does not have answers to the existential and essential questions and having to return to Biblical theology.
On the other hand one of the results of secularism in the Church is mega churches that proclaim to be a place of refuge, have a vision of mission that serves the postmodern generation –Scott Thumma, Mega Church Fenomena– offering a bit of everything for everybody, have adapted their liturgy, adoration and worship towards “relation and experience” instead of “religion and tradition” changing denomination for vision, offering charismatic programs and services focused on the experience from worship which is gaining more part in the service with music in fashion, with mass prayer, a more sociological message, less focused to worshiping God, to an expository sermon and silent prayer.
It is not strange to observe how the form of government of the church, the leadership looks more like a company, and sometimes like large enterprises. Not in vain the Bible does not show us such an elaborated structure as we find today in mega churches, but a simple form; I do not think any is to be less holy, but again it depends on ethics, purpose and the heart of those who work in a purpose, that may be evangelistical or economical, if it is done with the purpose to server God or to maintain the family and do a great work, both are holy. Because. Like Paul says, if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith (1 Tim. 5:8).
Postmodern theology needs the same theological base, but Christianity must not let secularism influence the message of the Gospel, it needs an apologetic according, to answer to the postmodernism that now governs secularism, but to be alert because the points of view are already changing and even though the answers do not change they do in their form. Finally the church and each Christian will give account of his stewardship, the use of resources, the first one of them the knowledge of God and the Gospel to share it with the surrounding world, discipleship in prayer, the time and care for others, but also of the time and capacity of the brethren and their gifts, services to the community and the use of finances, tenth and offerings received and given, with an impeccable ethics, transparent accounting and under the law, so we do not suffer anything bad nor they have anything against us (1 P. 4:15). To achieve all this we may use of efficient systems from the secular world in accounting –Howard Dayton, Business God’s Way–, programs, ideas, all that is of good conscience, because we work for God.
Premises, Team, Bosses, Finances and Profits
The premises of a large company are one of the pillars of the brand image more taken care of, something that churches must care about to win the outsiders, but not as if that was the purpose, but because it is the house of the Lord toward the world. The same as in the church there are leaders, companies and in jobs there are teams, bosses and employees that follow a program focused on profit, and the leadership of the sector. Again in the church we can, and in fact the larger ones use models of finances and profits to understand how to be more efficient in wining souls, use of time, with is of blessing. The limit here must be in understanding that the secular company only seeks for the supposed capacity, both academic as experience of the leaders and employees, but the church must always submit every proposal to prayer to the Holy Spirit with the group of leaders to know His direction; The Lord Jesus spent the night praying to the Father before choosing the twelve (Lc. 6:12-13). The company seeks reputation, leadership and profit; the Church glorifying God, wining souls and taking care of the souls that are His.
Continues and finishes in the second part: Gospel and Discipleship VS Product and Sales: Link to read Part II Secularism and Christianism Part II