Throughout redemptive history, shepherds entrusted with the care of God’s people have wrestled with the question of how to configure the shape of life in the community of the redeemed in light of the patterns of life in the surrounding society. Before the advent of self-consciously modern culture, when cultural change proceeded at (by comparison to today) a glacial pace, church leaders could take more time to reflect on such questions. When cultural conventions and forms remained constant for generations—even for centuries—their meaning and significance could be examined more carefully.
Two of the many distinct conditions of modern culture have made this project of discernment much more difficult. First, the rate of cultural change has increased significantly with each passing generation for at least a century and a half. Second, during the same period, the Church has lost more and more influence in shaping cultural life, even in shaping the cultural lives of its own members.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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