So how does this whole thing play out for us. (If you haven't read part one of this series, you might want to give it a gander.) Though it took upwards of 200 years for modernity to fully come into it's own, I believe the transition to whatever come next will be much quicker. The last 100 years or so have been the fastest moving, fastest evolving segment in human history. This hase been driven largely by technology. And with the sophistication of 21st Century communication driven by Moore's Law (transistor speed and density doubles approximately every 18 months.) and the ever speedier microprocessor "we aint seen nothin' yet."
Oddly enough, with the degree of sophistication the global citizen posesses, people are more spiritually minded than they have been in a long time. You would think that the modern embracing of the scientific method as the litmus test for all things to be "true" would be even more fully embraced by 21st century man. But what we are seeing is all the trappings of modernity have become suspect by the emerging culture. It turns out that science and logic didn't turn out to be the salvation of mankind. We aren't "shinier and happier people" because of it. So we are seeing a return to the mystic. People are realizing that modern thought didn't give us purpose, meaning and fulfillment like it promised. So, purpose meaning and fulfillment must be foung in the veiled spirituality of the universe. Or at least it might be some mixture of the spiritual, science and philosophy as we evolve to become more whole and complete in understanding ourselves (see Ken Wilber's "A Brief History of Everything").
This is a banner opportunity for the church. People aren't asking whether there is a God so much as they are asking "What does your god have to do with me?" Will your God or spiritual approach really bring me purpose, meaning and fulfillment? The apolegetic approach most of us grew up with is largely secondary. You see our thinking and methodology for comminicating the truth of the Gospel has got to change mainly because people aren't asking the same questions anymore.
Sure, at the core they are the same in that man has always struggled for meaning to life in his relationship with the universe. But when that gets unpacked through the filter of the emerging culture, it takes the form of a whole different set of questions that beg to be addressed. Our issue is that we continue to pound the community we claim to love for the cause of the Kingdom with answers to questions that aren't being asked. There is a huge spiritual dialogue taking place in mainstream culture and the Church is either unaware, unwilling to participate, or mute. We are mostly talking to ouselves; "spiritual autism" if you will.
I once heard Erwin McManus say that the best way to know what is going to take place in the future is to know what is happening in the present. The Gospel of Christ is the most eternally relevant, poignant, challenging, dangerous, transforming message in the history of mankind. It trancends history, technology and culture like nothing else. It is our job as emissaries of the Gospel to get out of the way; to sacrifice our preferences and comfort levels. It's mission's 101 really. We bring the timeless truth of the cross in the cultural language of the hearer.
May God give us clarity, humility, passion and wisdom as we seek His leading.