Signs of the Times

From an editorial
[©1967 Christian Century Foundation.
Reprinted by permission from
the January 18, 1967, issue of
The Christian Century, Chicago.]

Surprisingly, the English language has no word to designate one of the primary characteristics of our Western culture—the worship of numbers. ("Numerolatry" might serve the purpose were it not so easily confused with "new morality.") But the condition exists whether or not we know what to call it. For Western man "much, more, most" is the proper way to say "good, better, best." Are the bigger barns overflowing? Is the stock market rising?. . .

Every parish minister knows what questions will be asked at conference time: "How many members do you have? How many did you take in last year? How big is your budget?" To be sure, these questions can be perfectly natural and innocuous. . . . Yet far more frequently than we would like to admit, our judgment of a church's progress . . . hinges on the answers to such questions. That this view of success is the antithesis of the Christian view needs no argument.

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January 27, 1968

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