Document: L. Praamsma, The Church in the Twentieth Century, Vol. VII (Jordan Station, ON.: Paideia Press, 1981).
Excerpt: “Show me thy ways,” prays Moses at Mount Sinai, “that I may know thee” (Ex. 33:13). And in the New Testament, Christians were briefly referred to as the people of “the way” (Acts 9:2). What were—and are—the ways of the Lord in the twentieth century? From my study on the ninth floor of an apartment building, I have a good view of a long road and I can clearly see all the traffic and the traffic lights. However, if I come down from my perch and stand right on the street, I become part of the traffic and then I can only see a few fragments of the whirl in which I am immersed. I run the risk of losing my perspective altogether. The twentieth century, to which we will devote our attention in this volume, is our century—imperfect present tense. We walk in its streets, and we see many things that fascinate and frighten us in turn. Who is able to give us an overview of the whole situation, the proper perspective we need in order to understand? Who will give us genuine insight? We need Moses’ prayer at every step along the path. A basic question we should ask is this: Exactly when did our time, which stands out so clearly in contrast to the nineteenth century, begin? Many people point to the year 1914 in answering this question. When the guns of 1914 began to roar, a world full of ideals collapsed. The way of both the church and the world changed so completely that the generation born after 1914 simply could not imagine what life had been like in the pre-war period.
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