The eminent French sociologist and theologian Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) spent much of his life commenting on humanity’s natural proclivity for belief. Everyone, Ellul argued, is religious at the core. When the Christian faith diminishes, which it certainly has in Europe, it is not replaced by empty secularism, but by other religions. Writing in the 1970s, his choice of substitute gods (or “new demons” as he called them) are two sets of twin axes: technology/sex and statehood/revolution.
Perhaps a bit dated... or is it? An astonishing amount of hedonistic pleasure is beckoning our young people, much of it over the internet. Much as it can be a blessing, technology can become the new Tower of Babel, promising control and even omniscience. And are we not witnessing an increasing grip by government on every aspect of life? And what response can be effective? In many parts of the world it is literally revolution. Even in the West, there is a spirit of revolution, as people try to resist the state but are unable to offer much that is positive in its place.
France today has an extraordinary welfare state. Some of that is quite good, helping the poor, ensuring health coverage, and so forth. But all the recent studies show a direct correlation between the welfare state (intriguingly given the name “État-Providence”) and the discouragement of work. Not only is productivity lowered, but a mentality of over- dependence and even resignation are encouraged.
How can the Gospel of Jesus Christ make a difference in our beloved France? The Seminary in Aix-en-Provence is training leaders who can apply the Scriptures to such issues as the proper work ethic, an appropriate view of government, the cultivation of holiness, and the like. But they will never present these virtues as a list of moral imperatives; rather they are the fruit of a Gospel-driven people.
For your encouragement: enrollment in Aix is robust; more publications are edifying the church; we have nearly reached our goal of $750,000 for the Boice Chair! Thanks for your faithful support to this great cause!
Very Truly Yours,
William Edgar, President