Is Charles Taylor right about this? I think he is.
Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (first published in 2007) diagnoses the intellectual streams feeding into our modern morass and offers advice on how Christians must respond.
Our world has become “disenchanted” of all things spiritual, but it is rapidly becoming disenchanted with its own disenchantment. It seems that people cannot escape their true nature as image-bearers of God, and that yearning for transcendence continues to lead to fruitless solutions within the immanent frame.
Taylor believes the secular worldview is unraveling and that it cannot continue as the dominant intellectual platform, if only because the human soul chafes against it even as it indulges in its allure.
Taylor believes a return to enchantment is inevitable, and that it can be hastened along by believers who stop speaking and living in lockstep with our materialistic age and begin espousing ideas and ways of living that deviate from the secular norm, including all the ways that norm has taken churches captive to culture and ideology.
At the same time, Christians need to rediscover their heritage and recover the dominant narrative that laid the foundation for Western life in the arts, sciences, education, business, and much more. He does not call for a return to some “golden age” but only a recovering and reinterpreting of the Kingdom narrative into our present context.
The goal must be to turn our faces and energies toward knowing God. We must make room for many “itineraries” in that quest, always insisting only that our aim is to see God and to regain our lost enchantment with the larger world of Christ and the unseen promises of faith.
But we will not be able to do this without being renewed in the love of God and neighbor, risking deviation from the stock language and ways of our captive churches, and recovering our abandoned heritage.
Reading A Secular Age is a challenge, but it’s one pastors and church leaders should take up. We may not agree with Taylor on every point, but we can take hope in his conclusion and take a part in the course for re-enchantment which he outlines.