“The Times They Are a Changin’”

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin.’

Bob Dylan sang these words for the first time over forty years ago and they are as true today as they were then. Our world is changing, and fast.

Most agree that our culture as we know it is in the middle of a major transition—from an industrial society to an information society; from a modern world to a postmodern world—it matters little how it is described, most agree that some point in the last century will mark the end of an era. Many believe that this transition is as significant, and the upheaval will be as great, as that which occurred between the Dark Ages and the Renaissance.

For the last 250 years, as a modern world, science has been the foundation of our culture’s worldview. The scientific method of inquiry has been our primary means of discovering Truth. Our goal has been to emerge from the darkness of superstition and to thrust ourselves into the new age of Enlightenment—the Age of Reason. This has led to the rejection of all supernatural explanations for the universe; a collapse of faith.

In addition, technology has been the second floor of our culture’s worldview. Through it we have learned to control the very forces of nature. God now seems irrelevant. We can manage our own lives, thank you very much.

Finally, the third floor of our culture’s worldview, and perhaps our ultimate goal, has been the production of wealth. Not only is our own self-worth measured by it but even our perception of Truth is filtered through this criterion: “is it true” translates to “does it work” which really means “does it increase our bottom line?”

The promise of this Modern World has been a society in which ignorance would be overcome, disease cured, poverty eradicated, war rendered obsolete, and all material or social needs eliminated. The dream was a society that continually improved itself, a civilization in which people would be genuinely happy and truly free for the first time in the history of the world. This has been the promise of modernism.

The problem is that modernism has failed to deliver. The 20th Century witnessed some of the worst times ever seen in the history of the world in spite of our knowledge, technology, and wealth. We are now seeing a mass scale rejection of the modern view and its underlying assumptions about the universe. Our foundation has collapsed; our building is crumbling; a gnawing pessimism reigns.

Under the new, emerging worldview, progress may be inevitable, but it is often evil, destructive, and selfish. Science, technology and the accumulation of wealth will ultimately lead to the destruction of the delicate balance of nature and an unhealthy need for further conquest rather than cooperation. Ultimately it will lead to the destruction of the human species.

In the midst of all of this change, God still holds out hope to the human family. Self-centeredness has been our problem from the first day we were expelled from Paradise. God’s Word still has the key to human happiness and to the survival of the human family: turn from self-centeredness and return to God-centeredness. He designed us to live in a harmonious community, enjoying open fellowship with him and with one another. It sounds utopian but no matter how radically the world changes, it still works! God’s people can and do enjoy the peace that passes all understanding. That peace cannot be found in earthly knowledge, modern technology nor in massive wealth. It can only be found in God.