In Francis Schaeffer’s Book How Should We Then Live? he presents a compelling argument for the decline in western culture beginning with Ancient Rome and extending through modern society. It is a fascinating book that I am looking forward to giving more of my attention to over the next month.
At this point I have only gotten into the first chapter. However, Schaeffer has already brought a profound idea to my mind.
Schaffer’s first chapter is on ancient Rome. He begins to expound on how the Romans (like the Greeks) attempted to build their society upon the backs of Greek Mythology. He states:
The Greeks and later the Romans also tried to build society upon their gods. But these gods were not big enough because they were finite, limited. Even all their gods put together were not infinite. Actually, the gods in Greek and Romans thinking were like men and women larger than life, but not basically different from human men and women… The gods were amplified humanity, not divinity.
When I read these sentences I could not help but think of the celebrity pop culture of our day as a newer representation of the ancient Greek and Roman gods. Their gods were by no means beacons of ethical purity or uprightness. On the contrary their gods were simply magnified humanity. They were either super strong or super smart or super good looking. Sound familiar??? Who are the gods of our culture? Are they not the super strong athletes? Are they not the super talented singers and actors? Are they not the super attractive models??? Those who litter the front pages of the magazines you find in the check out line are also those who litter the works of Greek mythology.
What is scary about this reality is what Schaeffer goes on to say next. Schaeffer explains that the lack of an infinite God debilitates a societies ability to have a “sufficient reference point intellectually”. Shaeffer states that a society whose gods are finite (like the gods of ancient Greece and Rome and like the celebrity gods of our culture) does not have a strong enough value system to bear the strains of life. He states:
All their gods put together could not give them a sufficient base for life, morals, values, and final decisions. These gods depended on the society which had made them, and when this society collapsed the gods tumbled with it. Thus, the Greek and Roman experiments in social harmony ultimately failed.
Look at the gods of our society. They are strong, they are smart, they are beautiful. But they are finite. They fail. Every day there are new stories of our societal gods defaming themselves in their debauchery. These are no gods to build a society upon. When the gods of a society crumble so too will the society. Our gods are crumbling everyday. We should look to the one true God. The one God who did not crumble even under the great weight of human failure. Only this infinite and omnipotent God is able to truly hold up a society.
Think About It