can a modern society be Christian?

In 1995, missionary and theologian Lesslie Newbigin gave an address at King's College in London entitled, "Can a Modern Society be Christian?" 

Here are a few excerpts...  

Both Christianity and modernity make global claims. Both are necessarily missionary faiths, because they claim to give the true understanding of the human situation, valid for all peoples at all times.

Let us begin by posing a question which is central to any fundamental debate about Christianity in the public realm. It is the question: How is power legitimated? By what right do some people, calling themselves ‘the State’ exercise coercive power over others?

Here we come, I think, to the central problem which now faces the liberal democratic state. Insofar as the older biblical meta-narrative still pervades society, the concept of human rights still has some anchorage in the will of the Creator who is their author and upon whose character as holy and loving God they rest. But insofar as the biblical story fades from public memory, the intrinsic self-contradiction of the liberal vision shows itself.

We must surely now recognize that it is an illusion to suppose that the State can be totally neutral in respect of fundamental beliefs. All deliberate action presupposes some belief about what is the case, about the meaning and direction of human life. The ideologically neutral state is a myth, and a very dangerous one.

(Lesslie Newbigin, "Can a Modern Society Be Christian?")


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