On the Dangers of the Privatization of Faith

Privatization is the way in our modern world we lose the integration of faith. So go back to a traditional world, small town, village: Where someone lived, worked, and went to church was integrated. You could probably walk around them in half an hour, certainly go around on a horse in an hour. But as the modern world explodes, where people live and often where they go to church is relatively close still (although in L.A. it might be an hour away, traveling 50 miles to go to church). But then where they work is quite different altogether.

So it is called privatization, the way religion and faith in general [get] restricted to the private sphere—the home, the church, the weeknight, the weekend. But the world of work, politics, business, science, technology is another world, with a different way of doing it.

So, as one person says, people have different hats and they have different souls. A non-Christian said the churches in California he studied were privately engaging, publicly irrelevant. That’s another way of saying privatization…

Now up until the ’60s, most evangelicals, a great majority, [were] privatized. Then came the ’60s and evangelicals slept through it. ’73 was the wake-up year—Watergate, Roe v. Wade, OPEC, the oil crisis. Evangelicals started to realize the culture was slipping away.

The tendency then was to make the opposite mistake, to politicize faith, to swing from a privatized faith that lacked integration, the lordship of Christ in every area of life…They swung to a politicized faith, thinking politics was the be-all and end-all, and that lacked independence. No longer was faith primary. Christians became core chaplain to whatever party they supported, more recently the Republicans. -Os Guinness, taken from a 9Marks interview

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