Post Author: Bill Pratt
In studying church history, I’ve been looking at the period often called the Enlightenment. During this time, a movement swept through Europe which attempted to throw off the authority of divine revelation and place man on his rightful throne as the center of all knowledge and wisdom.
Historian Clyde Manschreck suggested that:
Man’s rational powers in league with science made dependence on God seemingly unnecessary. Men were confident that they had the tools with which to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Former distrust of human reason and culture, as seen in the traditional emphases on depravity, original sin, predestination, and self-denial, gave way to confidence in reason, free will, and the ability of man to build a glorious future.
Enlightenment values have continued to this day. Many of the skeptics I know have a deep distrust of authority figures and tend to think of their own abilities as more than adequate to get them through life successfully. One skeptical friend of mine told me that the only person he could count on to solve any of his problems was himself. If all you need is yourself, then what need have you of God?
The Enlightenment, in some respects, strikes me as a philosophical temper tantrum against the authority and rightful rule of God over man. Is man truly able to go it alone? Is the world getting better due to secular human wisdom? How you answer these questions has a lot to do with whether you believe in or trust God.
If man needs no authority over him, if he can get the job done on his own, than the Enlightenment was correct. God, as another friend of mine recently told me, is unnecessary. We can get along just fine without him.
I don’t know about you, but I think that coming out of the 20th century, a century with more killing of human life than all other centuries combined, you have to be nuts to think we can solve our own problems. But that’s just me… maybe we just hit a little bump in the road.