Carl Trueman’s Reminder for Whiners (like you and me)

Working my way through Carl Trueman’s brilliant book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, I came across this truth nugget in the introduction:

[T]his book is not a lament for a lost golden age or even for the parlous state of culture as we now face it. Lamentation is popular in many conservative and Christian circles . . . No doubt the Ciceronian cry ‘O tempora! O mores!’ has its therapeutic appeal in a therapeutic time like ours, whether as a form of Pharisaic reassurance that we are not like others . . . or as a means of convincing ourselves that we have the special knowledge that allows us to stand above the petty enchantments and superficial pleasures of this present age. But in terms of positive action, lamentation offers little and delivers less. As for the notion of some lost golden age . . . What past times were better than the present? An era before antibiotics when childbirth or even minor cuts might lead to septicemia and death? The great days of the nineteenth century when the church was culturally powerful and marriage was between one man and one woman for life but little children worked in factories and swept chimneys? Perhaps the Great Depression? The Second World War? The era of Vietnam? Every age has had its darkness and its dangers. The task of the Christian is not to whine about the moment in which he or she lives but to understand its problems and respond appropriately to them” (30).

This is worthy of reflection. In his characteristic style, Trueman confronts not only our propensity for lamentation over yesterday and its impotence but also our habitual whining today. Rightly, he reminds us of our sanctified responsibility: to discern the problems of our day and respond appropriately. May God give us the grace to do both.

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