These words were uttered by King David upon hearing of the death of King Saul. He remembered the former reign of Saul and lamented the end of an era. Of course, we now know that greater and more glorious days were close at hand. However, David had no way of knowing that even more glorious days were awaiting him. It is always this way when there is a change of eras.
However, when we compare the change that occurred between Saul’s administration and David’s, it seems insignificant in comparison to the change of an entire epoch. The last great epoch change occurred with the beginning of the modern era. Most scholars assign the birth of the modern era to the creation of the Guttenberg press. If you will recall, it was in the 16th century that both the renaissance and the reformation came into full flower. The world would never be the same after these events. The worldview, morality, and politics of the western world took a completely new direction in the modern era. Natural science became the launching pad for the modern worldview, morality became centered on the individual’s desires & freedoms, and politics took on a democratic style.
Modernity however, has for all intents and purposes crashed and burned. No one of consequence believes that we will “science” our way, or “individualize” our way out of our very real problems. Humanity is broken, our system of thought is broken, politics is broken, and most are aware enough to recognize it.
In other words, we are living in a time of epoch change. A friend and colleague recently commented that the events of 911 would go down in the annals of history as the nail on the coffin of modernity. It is here however that the Christian stands while others fall. We know that the best is yet to come; how, when, and where may all be a mystery, but the fact is that the gates of hell will never prevail the church. The most glorious days of the church are yet to come.
What then is the church to do with modernity? Are we to throw it into the junk heap of history? No; at least not all of it. There has been much good that has come from modernity, education on mass, scientific advance in areas of medicine, the suppression of despotism of all sorts. The gospel has moved forward in many ways, and these good things should be preserved.
The task at hand is not merely one of deconstruction, or undoing the errors of modernity, but it is also one of reconstruction; by that I mean retaining the best of both pre-modernity (mystery, philosophy, revelation, corporate culture) and modernity, all the while looking to see where the Lord is taking His people. In short, the church must strive towards a full blown worldview that incorporates the fullness of truth, the fullness of pre-modern Orthodoxy, medieval Catholicity, and modern Evangelicalism.