A Rumor of Angels

In 1969 religious sociologist Peter Berger wrote of the dis–enchantment of modern society, noting that the supernatural as a meaningful reality had disappeared from the horizons of everyday life for the majority of people. Despite this, Berger predicted that a time might come when secular society would rediscover the enchanted world that naturalism and secularism had destroyed.

In his book entitled A Rumor of Angels, Berger predicted that , “significant enclaves of supernaturalism within the secularized culture” would be a feature of post-modern society.

Now, more than three decades after Berger penned these words, it seems that he underestimated the trend. Weary of a purely mechanical universe, post-modern man has gone looking for the ghost in the machine.  Television shows, books and movies abound with the supernatural: ghosts, vampires and super-heroes. Without the guidance of Scripture, the human hunger for an enchanted world turns to the unhealthy and eventually to the absurd.

 Secular spirituality may be a little better than secular naturalism but not by much. Like the evil Spirit in Luke 11:26, who leaves the man then returns with “seven other spirits more wicked than itself,” secular spirituality leaves its victims worse off than before. It quiets our hunger for God without satisfying our need for a relationship with God.

In his book Peter Berger tells the story of a priest working in a European slum who was asked why he was engaged in such a vocation. The priest replied, “So that the rumor of God may not disappear completely.” This is our calling as well. In a world in which enchantment has once again been awakened and where angels and demons are part of our every day entertainment, we must keep the “rumor of God” alive. We must bear witness to the hope of the gospel and the truth of God’s word.

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Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

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