VIDEO: Jordan Peterson speaking at the Manning Centre: ‘You need to understand postmodernism because that’s what you’re up against. … It’s absolutely crucial that you understand this.’
Christianity itself is a story, one that captured the West’s attention for almost two-thousand years. According to this narrative—as contained in Scripture and expressed by Church Fathers such as Irenaeus of Lyons, the Cappadocians (Basil and the two Gregories), and Maximus the Confessor—God created all men to participate in His divine life, i.e., for deification. He created them in His “image,” and they had to freely choose to grow in His “likeness.” The “Fall” was an attempt to achieve deification apart from God. After the Fall, man retained the image of God (though marred by sin), but no longer had the divine life dwelling in him. God’s redemption of man, over the course of many years, culminated in Christ’s death and Resurrection, which “conquered death,” redeemed human nature, and enabled man to once again fulfill his original call to participate in the divine life.
In saying that “Christianity is a story,” there are many who will immediately smirk and say, “Why yes, it is.” What the smirks usually reveal about their owners, however, is a total lack of awareness of the narrative-based character of their own lives. They have rejected the Christian story—at least, the parts they’re conscious of—and merely replaced it with another story.
As theologian Robert Jenson pointed out in the title of his 1993 essay, the Western world has “lost its story,” the Christian story. For the past two-hundred or more years, its replacement in the West has been “modernity.”
In a remarkably insightful article published yesterday, popular blogger Fr. Stephen Freeman reminds us of the story-based character of modernity:
“We live in a story that calls itself the ‘modern world.’ It is about the ‘time’ we live in. It invented terms such as the ‘Classical Period,’ the ‘Dark Ages,’ and the ‘Middle Ages,’ naming history in such a way that it inevitably yielded modernity. It is the story of progress and evolution, not the unfolding of a divine plan, but the successive work of increasing understanding, science and compassion.”
But stories are to be tested by their fruits, and as Freeman and others have argued, modernity has not delivered on its promises of making of the world a better place, and of making people happier. In other words, it’s a bad story. That’s precisely why it has needed to be propped up by various forms of entertainment and distraction for people. That’s precisely why people have gravitated toward the fantasy genre (represented by Tolkien in the quote below), which hearkens back to a past way of life and being in the world:
This article continues at [Intellectual Takeout] The ‘Story’ That Replaced Christianity Is Collapsing