Understanding Our Liquid, Therapeutic Age

Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of this present age is the sheer speed with which unquestioned orthodoxies—for example, the nature of marriage, or the tight connection between biology and gender, or the vital importance of free speech to a free society—are either crumbling before our eyes or have been completely overthrown. If cultural conservatives are to respond to these changes, it is not enough to address each of them as isolated, discrete phenomena. We must first understand them as symptomatic of deeper cultural pathologies; and that requires a broader theoretical framework that sets the iconoclasm of today in the context of wider, deeper, social and cultural changes.

One thinker who can help us with this is Philip Rieff. Rieff is today justly famous for his 1966 book, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud. With this remarkably prescient analysis of how personal, psychological well-being would become the primary purpose of life, Rieff spoke more truth than he could possibly have anticipated. The world in which we live today, where everything—even biological sex—is to be subordinated to how we feel inside, was barely conceivable in 1966. Today it is hard to imagine a world where the therapeutic is not normative. Read more»

Carl Trueman, “The West is a Third World Country: The Relevance of Philip Rieff”

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Satan is up to his old tricks again, that lying serpent who says we should ignore God’s law and do what is right in our own eyes. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise since the Scripture warns that in the last days there will be a struggle between Christ and Antichrist, the lawless. Satan is the spirit that animates the man of lawlessness, so that he might deceive even the elect if that were possible. Matt. 24:24. “If we think Christians cannot be deceived, the deception has already begun…Jesus did not say that Christians were incapable of being deceived. We are all only too capable of it. Nevertheless, we are given this assurance: God will protect and preserve His people. Like Simon Peter, they will be shielded by the prayers of Christ and the power of God (Luke 22:31-32). This is accomplished through the activity of faith (1 Peter: 1:5)….By developing an appetite for God’s Word, we are ‘trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5: 14), and we grow in discernment.’ ” Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life.

    “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” 2 Cor. 13: 5

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