Faith (and Challenge) in Our Age of Enlightenment

imageRecommended article from the IDC IMBISA (International Diaconate Centre Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa)* blog.

And still we encounter, even now, the wisdom of God in our world calling us to a transcendent faith. Here I wish to introduce a simple yet effective comparative testament that remains a challenge to our age of ‘enlightenment’, one that makes our complex and advanced science, technology and human endeavour look rather foolish, for want of a better word. We need to consider for instance the mysterious shroud of Turin said to have wrapped the body of Jesus when it was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb. Having been a source of devotion for millennia that nourished the faith of millions, modern science and technology have sort to de-mystify this shroud by explaining its origin and replicating the presence of the 3 dimensional image on the shroud. After more than two decades of experts pouring over the shroud, with numerous tests and experiments using the latest tools and technology to unlock the secrets of the shroud, our most sophisticated and ‘enlightened’ human endeavours have not been able to crack this mystery neither by explanation or replication. The image on the shroud remains an unsolved mystery for the ‘enlightened’ and a faith reality for the faithful.

Naturally, one would have believed that the modern science and technology of our ‘enlightened’ age is far superior to anything that may have existed 2000 years ago to have ‘created’ that image on the shroud. Yet relatively modern science and technology simply cannot explain it without embracing that other reality that transcends the physical (material) World. So where does this leave us as the people of the ‘enlightened’ age? Can we truly discard the wisdom of God and cling to our ‘enlightened’ human wisdom alone? The shroud of Turin is but one instance of the presence and wisdom of God in human affairs; past, present and future. A presence that seeks to uplift the human condition from a selfish, proprietary, territorial, egotistic and destructive mode, to a selfless, caring, generous and constructive mode in which peace, justice and freedom, the elements of the Kingdom of God, are truly present.

*The International Diaconate Centre (IDC) was established in Germany soon after the Second Vatican Council. The aims of the IDC, inter alia, are the universal promotion of the Permanent Diaconate, the study of the development of the diaconate world wide, the development of a fraternal network of Permanent Deacons & the on-going research into the ministry & life of the Permanent Deacon. The IDC, as an official association for the Permanent Deacon, with the consent of participating Deacons & Bishops, has established chapters in North & South America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe & recently India & Africa. The IDC IMBISA chapter was formally established in 2009 at a General Meeting of the IDC in Vienna, Austria. The African delegation elected a working committee to spearhead the aims of the IDC in Africa. The IDC IMBISA has embarked on an outreach mission to build a network of "Sacramental Fraternity". We hope that the blog articles will foster dialogue and challenge us to meet the call of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, when at the second synod of Bishops of Africa he called for us to "…..arise and walk….".


3 thoughts on “Faith (and Challenge) in Our Age of Enlightenment”

  1. “Age of Enlightenment.” Barf. Has anyone bothered to analyze how we became so “enlightened”? As far as I can tell, it started with pure rebellion. The rebellion of the 60’s flared into a rejection of everything traditional, whether cultural or religious or even political.

    And now, for those of us whose lives span the 1950’s to the year 2011, we honestly don’t see any improvements in our world: cultural, religious and political affairs are much worse off since this experimental age of Enlightenment began. If they had actually accomplished something I might be impressed but I’m afraid that along with so-called enlightenment came greed and corruption which has nearly brought our country to ruin in the past 60 years. We were affluent due to the labors of that stuffy and traditional culture that the hippies despised. Now, analysts tell us we are facing a time of great austerity. We have ruined ourselves through the folly of our enlightenment.

    Yes, I agree that it’s time for mankind to get off the high-horse of their own wisdom and ask God for some of His. In James chapter 1, God says He will give wisdom liberally to those who ask for it. We really need to start asking, IMO.

  2. By the way, I do think that the human rights advances are worth noting as tremendous improvements. But I don’t think of the hippies as having done that. Human rights victories were won earlier by other soldiers and martyrs; and although there have been many victories since, the foundations were already laid for the most part.

  3. Your comments are so on the mark, Annie, but sad at the same time.I personally have observed the same decent in the past decades and sadly I also see our societies, or whole world for that matter, going to shite…Problem is people need to believe before they will ask.


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