But that all changed with the inculcation of scientism which defined the era now known as modernity. The change began to occur in the late 19th century and certainly became full-blown in the 20th century. Essentially, science was considered by the community to be the context of truth, and scientism (scientific method based on the assumption that reality is only defined by material nature; this is in contrast to early scientists in Europe who based their scientific method on the created order) became the order of the day. Thus, the power moved from the man behind the pulpit to the man who wore the white medical coat. Studies have shown that people today trust those who wear the white medical smock. Whether or not we realize this, this is the consequence of the effects of scientism in modernity.
But now things are changing again. The advent of Eastern Religious thought garbed in western ideology (or I should say preferential philosophical desire) resulted in New Age teaching, Post-Modern religious blubbery, and radical individualism (meaning, "I make my own religion, thank you very much!"). Now, who bears the power of the community? It may be argued, in light of recent developments, that those who become popular through entertainment and media become the voices of truth to the masses. It is almost as if one assumes that one on television, or anyone in the movies, or anyone who sings songs in the pop culture, becomes suddenly an expert on everything. And these mystic entertainers tell us what to drive (God forbid that we drive SUVs), and what to eat (i.e. "We must defend the defenseless chickens from that great tyranny known as 'Kentucky Fried Chicken"), and how to save the planet (Lord knows how many times someone tries to make us feel guilty if we don't try to save the planet). These mystic entertainers have become the power-brokers for radical environmentalism and, perhaps, the instrumentation of political and social engineers.
What is a Christian to do in such situations? First, we must learn what the Christian faith is in its fullest extent. This is commonly referred to as a "worldview" in the modern era. The Christian faith says something about ultimate reality (God), the nature of material reality (creation), the nature of truth and morality, the purpose of history (God's sovereign will achieved in the incarnation of Christ applied redemptively in human history through the church and the ministry of the Holy Spirit), and the meaning of death and eternity. Every Christian can and must be ready to respond to these great questions if they want to present themselves as a logical, consistent, biblical Christian. Second, the Christian must courageously link himself to the teachings of Scripture for authority and instruction. The Berean Christians have become model Christians in this regard (see Acts 17) where they even put Paul to the test of Scripture. Finally, we must exercise integrity in living out this vision. The Christian must resist the temptation to accommodate the spirit of the age (and the pressure of media, political parties, unions, and other organizations) if one is to live an eternal life focus. As one has quaintly put, "If we marry the spirit of the age in which we live, then we will become a widow in the next." May God help us to look to the Lord in these things; He is the sovereign of heaven and earth. Amen.