Loss of Transcendence - Lesson 34

Conclusion to Loss of Transcendence

In this lesson, you explore the loss of transcendence in modern society and its impact on theology and Christian faith. Delving into the role of philosophy and culture, you learn about various responses to the loss of transcendence and the theological and practical implications of this phenomenon. By understanding the importance of transcendence in Christian faith, you are guided toward strategies for recovering transcendence, both personally and communally. This lesson equips you to deepen your personal faith, cultivate a transcendent view in church life, and engage the culture with transcendent truth.

James Houston
Loss of Transcendence
Lesson 34
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Conclusion to Loss of Transcendence

TH730-34: Conclusion - Loss of Transcendence

I. The Loss of Transcendence in Modern Society

A. The Role of Philosophy and Culture

B. The Impact on Theology

C. Responses to the Loss of Transcendence

II. Theological and Practical Implications

A. The Importance of Transcendence in Christian Faith

B. The Need for Recovering Transcendence

C. Strategies for Restoration

III. Personal and Communal Applications

A. Deepening Personal Faith

B. Cultivating a Transcendent View in Church Life

C. Engaging the Culture with Transcendent Truth

  • 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. 

Dr. James Houston
Loss of Transcendence
Conclusion to Loss of Transcendence
Lesson Transcript

As I say, we return to childhood when we get older and so what’s intriguing me today are children’s stories. I’m living with Alice in Wonderland. I’m living with stories like The Velveteen Rabbit. And you know what happened to Alice? She happened to stumble into a rabbit hole. And one of the first characters that she meets as she falls in the hole is a caterpillar who’s lazily lying on a mushroom, dreamily smoking opium, like so many are smoking marijuana today. ‘Who are you?’ he asks her. Well, she has to reflect who is she because she’s fallen down a rabbit hole. That makes a huge difference to her life. So she’s shrunk. She has now shrunk down to the space that is occupied by the rabbit and the caterpillar. And now, instead of asking what is time, which is what the little boy asked Cardinal Guardini, she’s asking what happens to me in time. Who am I? That’s what she’s asking. And she’s no way of being able to communicate to the caterpillar that she was once [the daughter of the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral College in Oxford and that she lived in a very cultured, pampered world of comfort. It’s a different world now she’s in. And she realises that to be the favourite of the most famous mathematician in England, Charles Dodgson,—as his nom de plume—00:01:48] is not comprehensible to the caterpillar that she’s now abiding with.

And so, in a sense, the moral of this story is that when we’re living in the hands of the one who holds time in His hands, all times in His hands, we’re cut down very much to size. We really begin to explore the experience of time and transcendence very much more like Alice in Wonderland than in what we thought was the normal time or the normal environment of living a secular life. You’re really a very strange little creature when you’re a Christian. And so when people, who are not Christians, ask you and me who are you. Do we reduce ourselves to converse with the caterpillar or do we sustain ourselves to keep a talk with our Father, who’s the dean of the cathedral. We’re entering into different time zones, different kinds of character, when we move from the one to the other. And so our tension as Christians is that our identity is defined by the transcendent or our identity is defined by the immanent. We become very big when we live in the time of the immanent. We become very small when we live in the time of the transcendent.


You remember what we said in a previous talk of how my daughter was so impressed by the motto of the servants on the hotel on the edge of the cliff at the northern promontory of Maui, that as they were coming upstairs from the scullery, they were told let your service match the view. That’s the character that we have. And when we live in the light of transcendence, we’re very small indeed and yet we’ve got a very big view. May God help us with this kind of pictorial language to realise that what is more real than the reality of people around us seems sheer fantasy to them.

Once more, let us pray. Dear Father, help us to realise we’re just small children. But we ask that You will give us a big view of your purposes in spite of our smallness. As You invade into our world, help us to abide only in You. And so we pray that You’ll prepare us all for eternity and that others will see that we have the vision of eternity in our own eyes, in our own lives. And this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.