How Did We Get Here? A Basic Outline on Western Thought

‘How did we get here?’

That’s a good question. Whether you are lost in the woods or lost in the world, retracing your steps is a vital way of finding our bearings and dealing with lostness.

This Sunday, I begin a sermon series on a biblical view of marriage and sexuality. However, before approaching the horizon of the biblical text, we must know where are we and what are we dealing with. I am not suggesting that our cultural location is the church’s normative authority.  Just the reverse. However,  to help Christians (and non-Christians) understand what God expects of our sexuality, we must consider some of the influences that have shaped our present sexual climate.

With that in mind, I have drawn up a basic graph that traces how Westerners have changed their thinking over the last two millennia. Tell me what you think. What would you add, change, reword.













Until the 17th Century

1600 – 1964

1965 – Present



The nobility and nobodies of ‘Christendom’

Renaissance –
Baby Boomers

Gen-X, Millennial,
Internet . . .



The Age of the Priest

(1) Dominated by the Christian Worldview.

(2) Based on faith and revelation.

(3) God has spoken; he has the answers.

(4) The Bible is inspired and true. It serves as the ‘final’ authority.

(5) The church is an authority on all matters of faith and practice.

(6) The spirit of the age: ‘Faith seeks understanding’ (Anselm)

The Age of the Teacher

(1) Faith fell into disrepute; reason triumphed.

(2) Based on science and reason.

(3) The mind is able to discover or deduce the answer.

(4) The Bible is the creation of men; it must be evaluated, examined.

(5) The church’s supernaturalism is questioned.

(6) The spirit of the age: ‘I think; therefore, I am’ (Descartes)

The Age of the Artist

(1) Everyone and everything is spiritual.

(2) Based on relationships and tolerance.

(3) Each community creates its own norms; feelings give the answer.

(4) The Bible is one of many sacred books.

(5) The church is one of many religious options.

(6) The spirit of the age: ‘Whatever works’ (no one & everyone)

May God help us understand our ever-changing culture, so that we can communicate God’s unchanging gospel with clarity, conviction, and compassion,

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

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