The disengagement of the idea of freedom from the idea of the true and the good is the greatest weakness of secularist societies. (Emphasis added.)

Wolfhart Pannenberg,

in “How to Think about Secularism,” First Things 64 (June/July 1996): 27-32. 

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In thinking how I might conclude this short series on the Rise of Secularism, I keep coming back to one story in the Gospel.  It is in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus is invited to dine at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. (Lk 7:36-50)

I have always been struck by the positions assigned to the three figures in the story: Jesus, the Pharisee and a woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears. Indeed I think the position of the three tells us something very, very significant.

What do I mean?

When Jesus entered the house he reclined at the dining table and a woman who was known to be a sinner entered the home and stood behind Jesus.  The Pharisee was opposite Jesus and when the woman proceeded to wash Jesus feet and dry them with her hair. Simon, the host Pharisee, watched and thought “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

Jesus, sensing the Pharisee thoughts, told him a short parable and then he turned to the woman and said to His host – “Do you see this woman?”  In effect Jesus made the Pharisee look through Him to see the woman … … … look through Him to see the woman.  

This is precisely what I would say to conclude my short discourse on secularism and our current situation in this nation and the West.  If you do not look through Christ we will not see and we will not understand … and our problems will persist and grow exponentially.

Our sight is best when we look through Christ; our blindness greatest when we do not.

… there is a sense that the institutions of society are not legitimate …

The more secularization and what is called progressive modernization advance, the more they produce a need for something else that can bestow meaning upon human life. (Emphasis added.)

Wolfhart Pannenberg