The Death of the Secular Order

Christian sociologist Kevin Flatt:

The secular order is a way of structuring culture and society based on the functional assumption that the cosmos is inherently meaningless, devoid of any higher power or ordering principle, and so it furnishes us with no norms for human behaviour. This lack of “given” meaning leaves us with the freedom, or burden, to create our own values as individuals. Under such an order, social arrangements cannot be justified by an appeal to transcendent norms, but only in terms of self-interest, consent, and mutually beneficial agreements.

Flatt says that the individual autonomy that forms the backbone of ideological secularism* is causing cracks in the social fabric. I mean rips in the structures of society. You know. He focuses on two main areas: sex and economics. Secularists have fewer kids. And the moral breakdown that accompanies any move toward individual autonomy makes it difficult for the market—which relies on social trust and other strong civil institutions—to survive.

He predicts, therefore, the dissolution of secular societies:

The long-term trends are clear, and they suggest that a society based on a denial of transcendent norms and an exaltation of individual autonomy is unsustainable; the core values of the secular order are corrosive of the relationships and institutions that make human flourishing possible.

Read the whole thing.

*I’ve started calling secularism “ideological secularism” to distinguish it from the historically Christian view that the saeculum is one of two realms over which God reigns. Secularism is not part of a Christian worldview as it once was; it is a worldview. And (ergo) a crusade.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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