Loss of Transcendence - Lesson 7

A Call for Radical Christianity

In this lesson, you will gain a thorough understanding of the concept of Radical Christianity, its significance in contemporary society, and the challenges it faces. You will delve into the loss of transcendence in modern Christianity and explore the key elements of Radical Christianity, such as deepening your relationship with God, prioritizing holiness and spiritual growth, embracing sacrifice and suffering, and practicing radical love and social justice. Furthermore, you will learn practical strategies for cultivating Radical Christianity on personal, community, and global levels, ultimately recognizing the urgency of embracing a more profound and transformative faith.
James Houston
Loss of Transcendence
Lesson 7
Watching Now
A Call for Radical Christianity

TH730-07: A Call for Radical Christianity

I. Introduction to Radical Christianity

A. Definition and Context

B. Challenges in Modern Christianity

II. The Loss of Transcendence

A. Understanding Transcendence

B. Causes of Loss

III. Elements of Radical Christianity

A. Deepening Relationship with God

B. Prioritizing Holiness and Spiritual Growth

C. Embracing Sacrifice and Suffering

D. Radical Love and Social Justice

IV. Strategies for Cultivating Radical Christianity

A. Personal Practices

B. Community Involvement

C. Global Impact

V. Conclusion: The Urgency of Radical Christianity

  • Explore the loss of transcendence in modernity, examining its historical and philosophical context, defining transcendence and immanence from biblical and historical perspectives, exploring the impact of various movements on theology, and considering responses to the loss of transcendence.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the Greek world's origins of language and culture, the evolution of Greek history and thought, and the differences between Greek and Roman history. By examining the works of Luke as a Roman historian, you will better understand the cosmic and intimate nature of Christian history.
  • The Christian historiographical revolution redefined history as linear and purposeful, contrasting with ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish approaches and profoundly impacting the study and writing of history.
  • In this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Dark Ages, the Reformation, and the factors that led to the loss and eventual restoration of transcendence in Christianity.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into the Reformation and Enlightenment's historical contexts, key figures, and events, as well as their impact on society, religion, and the loss of transcendence, ultimately discovering ways to reclaim transcendence in the modern world.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the loss of transcendence in modern society, its consequences, the role of Christianity in addressing the issue, and strategies for engaging with secular culture and promoting spiritual renewal.
  • This lesson teaches you about Radical Christianity, its importance, and how to cultivate it through deepening your relationship with God, prioritizing spiritual growth, and practicing radical love and social justice in a world experiencing a loss of transcendence.
  • Through this lesson, you grasp the factors contributing to the loss of biblical authority and learn strategies to reaffirm its importance in Christianity.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into contemporary biblical criticism, its methodologies, impact on theology, and learn to appreciate its contributions while recognizing its limitations.
  • By examining biblical criticism and its various forms, you gain insight into how Christians can respond thoughtfully, affirming Scripture's authority while engaging with criticisms and maintaining a commitment to truth.
  • By examining the loss of the soul, you'll understand its diminishing importance in modern life and learn to integrate science and spirituality for a holistic, transcendent perspective.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into classical interpretations of the soul and their interaction with Christian theology, while also understanding their modern theological implications.
  • This lesson equips you with a comprehensive understanding of the embodiment of faith, its historical development, theological implications, and practical applications in the Christian life.
  • By studying this lesson on embodiment in community, soul, and culture, you will learn how these concepts impact spiritual formation and shape your understanding of Christian faith and practice.
  • The lesson on embodiment and self-sacrifice offers insights into the New Testament, emphasizing Jesus' incarnation, the human body as the Holy Spirit's temple, and self-sacrifice as a key Christian virtue, while providing theological and practical applications.
  • This lesson equips you to understand the biblical concept of sin, the factors contributing to its loss, and offers practical steps to reintroduce sin in teaching and preaching for a more complete Christian faith.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the cardinal sins and their contemporary significance, learning how to identify and combat them in modern society for personal and spiritual growth.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into C.S. Lewis's critique of the loss of transcendence in modern society, his theological perspectives, and his emphasis on imagination in Christianity.
  • This lesson offers an in-depth analysis of the theological differences between Oxford and Cambridge and their impact on the loss of transcendence in modern theology.
  • What then did Lewis write about in The Abolition of Man? The symbol is that the immediate threat is not the abolition of man, but the abolition that there are men without chests. And he means that being without a chest is living two dimensionally and not three dimensionally. It’s not that you just live in space and time, but that you live with space, time and God or, indeed, space, time and morals. And so really it’s simply to live an amoral life. And you begin to lose your emotional life when you live with amorality.

  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into Jacques Ellul's critique of technological society, its consequences, theological implications, and the need for a countercultural response in the face of modern challenges.
  • This lesson guides you in understanding the loss of transcendence, seeking understanding, and retaining hope amidst the challenges of modern society.
  • You gain insight into Jacques Ellul's life, his views on the loss of transcendence, and the influence of his work on theology and society.
  • You will learn about the concept of technique in the modern world, its characteristics, societal effects, and the spiritual implications it holds for faith and transcendence.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the implications of technique on society, its challenges, and ways to respond from a biblical perspective, ultimately aiming to strengthen human connections and reclaim transcendence.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into the Psalms' structure, types, role in ancient worship, and their significance in modern Christian life, prayer, and spiritual growth.
  • In this lesson, you will explore the role of domestic involvement in the Psalter, its significance in Ancient Israel's worship, and the impact of the Psalms on the community, values, and beliefs.
  • Gain insights into the connection between biblical eschatology and secularity, understanding key aspects and themes while learning to reclaim the transcendent in eschatology.
  • This lesson offers insight into the theological tensions between immanence and transcendence, their impact on modern theology and worship, and the practical steps for reintegrating them into the Christian life.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the concepts of immanence and transcendence, their effects on theology and culture, and the importance of integrating both for a balanced Christian worldview.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into time and eternity, God's relationship with them, and their impact on human experience and theological concepts such as soteriology, eschatology, and Christian living.
  • Gain insight into Old Testament concepts of time, the role of numbers and patterns, the significance of time in biblical prophecy, and the theological implications concerning God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • This lesson provides insight into the New Testament's complex understanding of time, addressing concepts such as the Kingdom of God, the present age, and eternal life, and offering guidance for Christian living.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the loss of transcendence in modern society and learn how to recover and foster a transcendent view within your personal faith and church life.

This course on the loss and recovery of transcendence in our contemporary culture is, of course, appropriate for all Christians, but, I think, especially for us here in North America, for the political prominence of a Christian religious culture that we’ve had in North America that makes us all the more exposed to the secularisation of contemporary Christianity. 

So in conclusion to this session, let me speak more spontaneously about how radical we need to be today as Christians. I was privileged when I was Oxford to have a friend that was a fellow Christian at Jesus College. He’s now called Sir John Houghton. And Sir John Houghton was one of the Nobel Prize winners for climate change. But how climate change happened with him was that he was a physicist and often the best discoveries are when you turn against the trend of the day to do something that is innovative at the risk of your own profession. Everybody in his day as a physicist in the Cold War was becoming a nuclear physicist because that was what was needed for that generation of détente with Russia. He decided to do stratospheric physics.

And as a stratospheric physicist, he was very unpopular. But he stuck at it. He eventually became the director of meteorological services in Britain for weather forecasting and one thing led to the other and then he got engaged with a group of international physicists in climate that were beginning to study climate change. It was a long journey that he took and he ended up when he was given the Nobel Prize with his fellow physicists as the vice-chairman of the panel of scientists on climate change that were awarded their decoration of the Nobel Prize.

Now, John is the first voice with other Christians to lead in climate change today. That’s a radical change of attitude that we all have. Ironically, there are other changes that have taken place, which Nancy Duarte—who is a devout Christian and worships at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church—in the tech world, she launched Al Gore on climate change because as a politician a political voice had to be heard as well as a scientist. Then she launched Steve Jobs, not just for the launching of Apple, but really of tech change that now we’re facing a new world of artificial intelligence that we call tech change. That’s the second one. The third one is much closer to home because it’s with my own son, but my son is a business consultant. He was involved in crying out against the craziness. And one of the things that the business community today understand better than most Christian scholars is that you should never store knowledge. Knowledge should be acted on immediately.


And so now Christopher has had the hard training of being on his own as a business consultant and shouting out. You shout out the truth.

And the truth that he’s now shouting out has been adopted by Ogilvy & Mather, which is the world’s brand company, for now proclaiming a truth and that truth is, thirdly, something that may be voiced next year by Nancy Duarte: climate change and tech change need human change. How do we have human change? When we go back to the original, basic commandment of all commandments love shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, that the identity is of a Christian, not to be an individual, but to have a theological identity as a person. And a person is a self for the other. Now, you hide that from the secularists because they would scorn its source. And you have to hide a lot from secularists today, but you speak the truth without using theological language, you see.

And so what is human change? Human change is the denial of narcissism. And individualism is the road that the American history has gone from day one, from the very beginning. It was a continent that was colonised by individuals in the 17th century to have the monarchical self, the self that says we’re all kings, as was the debate of the civil war. The levellers were saying we’re all kings. Well, it’s dangerous to be a king on a new continent. The second mythology that has compounded the mythology of America, of its individualism, is the rise of the proprietorial self, that what you colonise, what you clear of the swamp and the forest, is your own property. That proprietorial self was the colonists’ mandate. And then, of course, there is in the 18th century the rise of the romantic self, the Rousseauian self, that I am the possessor of my own consciousness.


Well, this cocktail is a poisonous cocktail for American culture today because in the context of these three things, we have de Tocqueville coming as a political observer in 1830. And he said there’s a strange experiment, a unique experiment, in the history of mankind that is taking place in North America and that’s the rise of the individual. Well, the rise of the individual is destroying us in America today. The narcissism that is its basic premise is the end of Western civilisation. That’s what we’re facing when we become radical Christians. And so it’s that reality that with solemnity we have to say there can be no climate change, there can be no rebuttal against artificial intelligence, unless we realise that we’re persons in Christ as our identity. There has to be human change. So never in the history of mankind have we faced a moment of such gravity as we’re facing today.