- Society in Crisis: Applying a Biblical Worldview in the West
- How Will The West Hear the Gospel?
- The Arts Can Take the Gospel to the West
The Frankfurt School, and three major events—World War I, Russia’s Communist Revolution, and World War II—all had a powerful influence in creating the new mindset in the West.
But not these only. A very influential group of French thinkers belong on the same list. These include J. Paul Sartre; Simone de Beauvoir, who published her book, The Second Sex, in 1949; Levi Straus; Jacques Lacan; Rolan Barthes; and Michel Foucault. In more recent years, the Gender Ideology and Radical Feminist movements come to mind as well.
Since the 1960s, all these major events and movements have come together to produce the drastic change in paradigm in which we find ourselves in the West. They have led to the creation of new ideologies spreading in many European countries: animalism, transgenderism, trans-speciesism, transhumanism, posthumanism, pro-immigration, and some of the new, radical nationalist movements, like the Catalonians in Spain.
Another manifestation of the same is described by Israeli writer Yuval Noah Hararie in his 2015 book Homo Deus: man becoming a god who seriously aspires, with the help of science and technology, to reach immortality. The same writer acknowledges that Western man, having tried first to change the world around him, now realizes that what he really needs to change is himself. Thus the label, trans-humanism.
The West is a post-truth world
Since one consequence of these drastic changes has been the removal of God from the picture to make Western countries secular democracies, we in the West live now in the age of post-truth. There are no longer absolute values and truths; all depends on my own personal feelings and opinions without any reference to anything else. As we all know, gender identity is defined by what the person feels at any given time, regardless of what they are in reality according to a physical, genetic or biological make-up. In similar fashion, consider the trans-species ideology: a person can be a dog, a cat or any other animal trapped in a human body, if that is what he or she feels. And so on.
To some people, these ideas seem laughable or insane, but this is current reality in the supposedly educated, advanced and civilized world of Western society. In the 21st century, everything is post and trans; the new man wants to be beyond everything. As Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher and probably the greatest influence toward the secularization of Europe, said, “the new superman is beyond good and evil.” We are living in the time when man reinterprets himself and everything around him, from his mere rational, autonomous and purely materialistic perspective, and this to the point of being unwilling to accept and recognize the very laws of nature. As someone put it, it is “man’s last rebellion against God.”
A new conception of humanity
All these bizarre ideologies are now being forcefully implemented in European democracies with the help of governments, judicial systems, educational institutions, and the mainstream media which has bought into all them. A whole battery of opinions and regulations have been imposed by dint of law or decree on the rest of society, and the majority of the people are unaware. As we have said, it is no longer about changing social, political or cultural structures; this is nothing less than a new conception of humanity, a drastic change in paradigm that has taken place before our very eyes, something completely new which has never happened in the history of humanity.
How does all this relate to The Ars Vitalis Foundation ministry?
In the midst of this irrational and decaying society, we are faced with a gigantic and titanic challenge. As asked above, how can we offer hope to a society which has not only lost the concepts of sin, repentance or salvation, but the very need for absolutes, truth itself and moral and spiritual values? There are no rational or human solutions. Even though the Bible encourages us to “give reason for the hope that is in us” and to “understand the times,” it also teaches us that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God,” and that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” We can reach this postmodern, post-Christian man only with the weapons provided by God: prayer, intercession and a complete dependence on Him.
And, also mentioned above, we need to find, from a biblical perspective, those new ways and approaches that resonate with today’s questions.
Why a performing arts center?
This is precisely what we aspire to do through The Ars Vitalis Foundation. As mentioned above, the Ars Performing Arts Centre, over the last 12 years, has organized and programmed artistic activities to encourage reflection and discussion on life’s fundamental issues. We have seen the need for this kind of environment. We have seen its effectiveness as a tool to open doors for discussion about the relevance of the gospel message. Accordingly, this is where we are now concentrating all our efforts.
Our main goal, through prayer and dependence on God for guidance, is to provide a platform for information, instruction, discussion and reflection on the need to recover the very foundations of life: family, marriage, sex identity, authority, justice, truth and reason. All these were lost in the midst of the tenacious effort to “decompose” the original Christian, basic principles of the West.
As Dorothy Sayers put it,
When the laws regulating human society … come into collision with the nature of things, and in particular with the fundamental realities of human nature, they will end by producing an impossible situation which, unless the laws are changed, will issue in such catastrophes as war, pestilence and famine … . Defy the commandments of the natural law, and the race will perish in a few generations; co-operate with them, and the race will flourish for ages to come.
A recovery of the mind in the West
But it is not our purpose only to help society get back to the status quo. We want to prepare the ground for a reasonable dialogue on moral and spiritual values to open the door for the gospel. For this reason, the dialogue has to be started and promoted on the actual good of those structures and the need for their recovery. G. K. Chesterton said the problem was not that Western man had lost his faith, but that he had lost his mind. Dietrich Bonhoeffer believed that the defining quality of the post-Christian European man was that they had gone out of their senses, and that before we could offer them the gospel we would need to help them come around again. We believe this is one way we can help do that.
In its 12 years, the Aslan/Ars Performing Arts Centre has built personal contact with a few hundred people. We have experienced that this kind of dialogue helps people understand that there may really be a natural order and an objective truth that cannot be denied if we want to protect humanity from annihilation. Reasonable dialogue on moral and spiritual values can lead to a discussion of the relevance of the Bible and the gospel message.
Yes, this is a long way around. But I’m afraid our situation requires it. Art may be one of the only means by which we can establish a dialogue with this new man in a way that will resonate with him.
- Hector J. Ramirez Martinez