In Varieties of Religion Today Charles Taylor explores the shift in religious sensibility we inherit from modernity (Chapter 3 is brilliant!). With the age of reason the natural world was pulled down into the realm of comprehension. We could now measure, desconstruct and pull apart the created order. It belonged to the dominion of man, or so we now assumed. What was lost was the mystical connection with the world as created. The world became more and more mechanistically understood and God became more and more distant. We might remember that the deists came to believe in a divine watchmaker, winding up the world to let it run of its own accord.
In this Newtonian atmosphere we began to elevate the notion of law. After all laws are what govern the created order, and laws represent the enduring connection of the Creator to creation. It is not a wonder then that when Western humanity began looking again for the location of God we looked not to the world but to the lawfulness of society. It is from here that Kant makes his great contribution. No one of that age is unaffected, morality becomes the dominion of God. Understanding this is it really any wonder that we have evangelists who introduce us to the law instead of the person of Jesus Christ?
But all is not lost. More and more people are realizing the incredible poverty losing a sense of divine in the created order has meant. So many are longing for the authenticity of mystery. It also shouldn't surprise us that many in the West have turned elsewhere to feed their souls. For me I believe we face a time of incredible opportunity. Are we to continue to offer a morality based religion or will we introduce the world to a Jesus who holds all things together. Will we continue to preach a destructive message divorced from our lived reality, or will we call for believers to love the world Jesus died to save?