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Cynicism - The Dominant Spirit of Our Age

man looking into night sky
Cynicism is Not Strength

Cynicism has indeed become the dominant spirit of our age, it is a problem.

Cynicism is an unbridled bitterness toward all things true, deep and meaningful. It is rooted in our contempt to others and the world around us. Pride is its traveling companion. Our cynicism chokes our optimism that God did and continues to do something meaningful in our lives.

Author Paul Miller states in his book A Praying Life: “Cynicism is, increasingly, the dominant spirit of our age. . . . It is an influence, a tone that permeates our culture . . . . [It] is so pervasive that, at times, it feels like a presence".

Christians are not free of this sin in fact if you look at the cynicism of believers around us you will not be able to tell the difference between their cynicism and the cynicism of the world.

Lets not be naive, we all as fallen broken people get into patterns of sin. We confess, repent and with the help of the holy spirit move past that trend of sin in our lives.

As Christians how do we fight this influence? From where does it come?

You and I have been influenced all of our lives with the worldview of this secular age. Indeed many have pointed out our submission to it.

Where Does Our Cynicism Come From?

Philosopher Charles Taylor writes in his book "The Secular Age": "We come to see the growth of civilization, or modernity, as synonymous with laying out of a closed immanent frame; within this civilized values develop, and a single-minded focus on human good aided by a fuller and fuller use of scientific reason, permits the greatest flourishing possible of human beings. Religion not only menaces these goals with its fanaticism, but it also undercuts reason, which comes to be seen as rigorously requiring scientific materialism. (548)

The reality plagues us as our society went from majority Christian to largely secular and post-Christian today. We can look to many different and manifold causes but perhaps the most striking is our loss of recognizing the transcendence of life to making life a matter of pragmatism and materialism. The difficulty of life, survival and our trend into sin instead of the life giving relationship with God forever taints our current existence. The reality is we will never be free of it this side of heaven.

More goods, more knowledge, more and more has not satisfied us or cured us.

Like all civilizations before us and the ages before us we have reached a pinnacle of what God's grace and our human ingenuity can afford and even as humans gathered around ancient Babel we also desire to extend our power beyond what God has allowed. The gift of technology like all human innovations is turning back in sin and evil, we have corrupted it to such an extent that God will be required to bring his wrath upon it and us.

Shunning Transcendence

Post - modern culture which includes you and I have allowed the reality of transcendence to be relegated to a position of irrelevance. Most Christians have tacitly accepted our cultures view that without empirical evidence that God exists that the Christian way of life is but one choice among many. Our worldview now coopts the depth and true meaning of divine things with the shallow quick and superficial things of our consumer culture.

The influencers of our culture think they “know better” than faith and its enchanted reality. If life is inconvenient and difficult then we will not participate. This shunning of the reality of life gives rise to "cynicism."

Christians and Cynicism

Christ gives us guidance in life. Our living Lord did not avoid life he embraced it and died for us through it. Our Lord always faced life head on. We can't avoid cynicism but we can acknowledge it as a sin and confront it in our lives and the world around us.

Romans 14:23

23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Our cynicism is based on the sin of unbelief. The anti-gospel nature of our culture leads many Christians into the sin of cynicism on Twitter etc. Even in the public square Christians have given into the pervading sins of our time.

Refuse to Be Cynical

Ephesians 6:11-12

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

If we doubt God's word, if we choose to ignore the ultimate reality of God's creation but instead trade it for the quick, easy and sinful culture we swim in we will not escape the darkness.

The reality found in Christ, through relationship, confession, repentance and prayer overshadows not only our cynicism but everything else we fear.

Psalm 14:1

1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;

there is none who does good.

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