Jacques Ellul on our world of veiled, hidden, and secret gods

”¦[Idolatry] has not disappeared; far from it. If there is no need to withdraw the word “God” from idolatrous confusion there is a need to give the word “God” meaning, by denunciation, challenge, and accusation against the veiled, hidden, and secret gods, who besiege and seduce all the more effectively because they do not openly declare themselves as gods.

It is clear that the task facing Christians and the church differs entirely according to whether we think of ourselves as being in a secularised, social, lay, and grown-up world which is ready to hear a demythologised, rationalised, explicated, and humanised gospel – the world and the gospel being in full and spontaneous harmony because both want to be religionless – or whether we think of ourselves as being in a world inhabited by hidden gods, a world haunted by myths and dreams, throbbing with irrational impulses, swaying from mystique to mystique, a world to which the Christian revelation has once again to play the role of liberator and destroyer of the sacred obsessions in order to liberate man and bring him, not to the self his demons are making him want to be, but to the self his Father wills him to be.’

[Yet] at the mention of a struggle of faith against the modern idols, which are the real ones, I immediately hear indignant protests…

–Jacques Ellul, The New Demons (New York: Seabury Press, 1975 E.T. of the 1973 French original), pp. 227-228 (my emphasis)


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sociology, Wicca / paganism

4 comments on “Jacques Ellul on our world of veiled, hidden, and secret gods

  1. Kendall Harmon says:

    This powerful section brought to mind these words from [Simon and Garfunkel’s] Sounds of Silence–“And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made….”

  2. Charles52 says:

    Yesterday’s business at the DNC left me wondering to what – or to whom – we refer when we use the English word “God”.

  3. Stefano says:

    The section you refer to is on the last few pages of the this noteworthy book. The first chapter “Christendom” details the development of the Christian world view and how it came to dominate and be the metric of society in the West. The second chapter, “Post-Christendom and Secularization”, introduces themes which have been lately reinforced by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali in his talks which many of you have heard. Ellul writes of the Church [b] “She is tolerated provided she does what is expected of her and nothing more…for in this society she has a definite limited purpose….”[/b] . I leave the rest of the book as an excercise for the Gentle Reader. As with much of his writing, challenging and recommended.

  4. Jim the Puritan says:

    #2–That was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. I don’t know what was was worse, the obvious fact these folks reject God or the hypocrisy of the moderator in pretending they didn’t. God has been turned into a political football by those simply trying to use Him for political gain, while at the same time being in rebellion against Him.