How has the idea of social aid so pervasively replaced salvation in some people’s minds today?
There was a cultural revolution in the 19th century with our society turning from God’s revelation to humanism skepticism. In places like France, there was a growing optimism that modern man could transform modern society. They replaced revelation with man’s reason suggesting that there were no constants of existence defined by God and the Bible; therefore, reality could be shaped by humans, once we reject these false parameters.
Out of this claim, a “new priesthood” or set of new experts on society emerged. The argument was that if modernism produced the new age, only modern ideas could find or have the necessary answers. So, secular sociology and the secular sociologist preaching “liberty, equality and fraternity” as defined and achieved by human effort displaced theology and the Church.
This utopian view of human progress and its ability to bring change or positive results put human interests as always paramount. In conjunction with this, it rejected the supernatural. So the “premodern” (or biblical views) were replaced by modernism (with its rejection of the supernatural and inerrant revelation). For example, ideas such as the belief that family is a God-given unit were downplayed or rejected, and religious thinking lost any social acceptability.
But the results have been clearly catastrophic. For instance, when man is in complete control without any accountability or has “unchecked” power, the fallen nature of humanity seizes secular sociology’s utopian ideas about anthropology and dashes them on the rocks of reality. Communist governments have murdered more than 94 million people. When secular sociology is our theology, or when humans try to be God and order society alone, the results are always devastating.
However, when theology is our lived sociology, or humanity operates within the irrevocable laws of existence laid out in God’s revelation, we find blessing. One example is new research shown by Dr. Dena Freeman, a European anthropologist and economist from the London School of Economics. She argues that Pentecostalism has done more for Africa than all humanitarian aid organizations combined.
She poignantly states, “Pentecostals focus on some key aspects of change that secular NGOs continue to ignore – they are exceptionally effective at bringing about personal transformation and empowerment, they provide the moral legitimacy for a set of behaviour changes that would otherwise clash with local values, and they radically reconstruct families & communities to support these new values and new behaviours. Without these types of social change, I argue, it is difficult for economic change & development to take place.”
Notice, societal change can only occur from personal change. That’s the power Apostolics have; not the Social Gospel. Our missionaries have ALWAYS done more for Africa than all humanitarian aid!
Knowing how we got here as a society through secular ideas is needed to protect our thinking. Further, we can demonstrate that only God orders society well, and the admission to that truth, even by those outside the faith, is staggering today.