Has our culture abandoned God? That is a difficult question, and it actually leads to an even more fundamental question. Is it possible for our culture to abandon God?
Some might be eager to answer this question with a hearty, “Yes!” If God is just some type of survival mechanism created by our ancestors to explain natural phenomena or provide a sense of order in a world that didn’t always make sense, then it is of course possible for our culture to abandon God. These same people will say that our sophisticated culture has moved beyond those childish fantasies and can now live in the cold, sterile light of our supposedly enlightened world.
Others might respond to this question with a much greater degree of skepticism. What would a world look like full of people who cannot abandon some almost subconscious knowledge of God? For one thing, it would not be surprising to see those beliefs slip out here and there. If they are somehow embedded deeply within the hearts of men, then the objects humanity creates very well might reflect God in some way.
These radical skeptics who suggest that it is impossible to abandon God entirely might point to a variety of evidences, but one of the most powerful is our culture itself. The stories we tell betray our hopes, dreams, and fears. For some reason, we want Cinderella to marry the Prince. We want Frodo to destroy the Ring. We want Darth Vader to come back from the Dark Side of the Force. Our desire for justice, hope, redemption, and ultimate joy shine through. This tendency is surprisingly consistent across time and culture.
The skepticism even goes a step further than that. Not only are we brave enough to say that our human desires may actually point just towards something supernatural and our stories are evidence of those desires, but we are also daring enough to say that these desires don’t just point to some abstract, unknowable supernatural being. Instead, we contend that they point to the specifically Christian God. Why do we do that? Those stories that illustrate certain values and virtues across time in history are remarkably consistent with the vision of value and virtue portrayed in the character of our God.
We are building a bridge from these desires that people possess to the source of those desires. That is one of the chief purposes of cultural apologetics and a great deal of what you are going to see in this issue of An Unexpected Journal. Through our work, we are hoping to show you that even works that are created with no traditionally “Christian” intent whatsoever betray the God-given desires embedded in the human heart. Yes, we are all marred by sin, but somewhere deep inside the remains some magnet that is drawing us towards the reality of God.
Has our culture abandoned God? I wouldn’t say it has. Instead, we have lost our way home. We are on the other side of the valley and need to find a bridge that will get us back across. That is our purpose.
Zachary D. Schmoll earned his Ph.D. in Humanities at Faulkner University and his M.A. in Apologetics from Houston Baptist University. He serves as the Managing Editor of An Unexpected Journal, a quarterly publication of cultural and imaginative apologetics. His academic work has been published in Christianity & Literature, Mythlore, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Faith and the Academy, and Fourth World Journal. His essays have also been featured at Public Discourse, Front Porch Republic, and The Federalist.
Zak Schmoll, “Bridging the Gap: an Introduction,” An Unexpected Journal 2, no. 2. (Summer 2019): 11-14.
Direct Link: https://anunexpectedjournal.com/bridging-the-gap-an-introduction/