I get this question a lot. “Where did you get ‘age of decay’ from?” and “why do you use that phrase, it is discouraging.” Here’s my answer.
I started using the phrase “age of decay” after reflecting on Romans 8:21. I use it because no one else uses it and when people hear it they are a bit shocked and sometimes bothered. The phrase is no where near as discouraging as its reality in my life and in this world. I hunger for its banishment.
If you think you’re tired of hearing about it you should talk to the people in my church. Sometimes they break down and scream “uncle”! But I won’t stop.
Why won’t I stop? Because I think we have a deep, implicit cultural narrative of denial that suggests to all of us that the existential trouble we are in can be remedied by a bit of self-actualization, self-expression or moralism. This is a deadly serious situation similar to a slow carbon-monoxide gas leak in the house. It puts us to sleep. The only rational thing to do is to run from the house.
There is absolutely no denying that in this age we all lose everything, slowly sometimes but other times quickly. The same is true on a cosmic scale. It is the universal tragedy of humanity that not only claims us as biological creatures but also as culture making creatures. Extinction claims beauty, language, culture, and they disappear into the sands of time never to be recovered by any power at human disposal. We are so in need of an intervention but we dare not show up for it because all fingers point to our own rebellion.
Jesus brought the intervention to us, took the judgment in our place, and blazed the trail out of the age of decay and into the age to come. He then turns to us and bids us to follow, but we have grown accustomed to breathing the gas and suggest to him that things aren’t as bad as he is making them sound and that maybe we’ll leave when we get around to it.
That’s why I talk about the age of decay. We have our face in it and say “it isn’t so bad”. No, it is. pvk