“The Twentieth Century Is the Century of the Identity Crisis, in Literature No Less Than in Psychology, Sociology, and Other Disciplines”
These considered thoughts were the recent expression of the American social philosopher, Robert Langbaum. It does not speak favourably of these latter days, despite the sheen and glitter of technology. His words are but the specimen of the days; not too many have kindly thoughts for this era of the rapidly heading up of the days. “Worm’s End” is a specimen sentiment.
Mr. Langbaum refers to “Identity Crisis,” and these two words of fourteen letters point up one of the pertinent aspects of modern society. “Crisis” is referred to via every avenue of the media so that it has nigh become defused of significance. Mr. Webster of the dictionary defines the word as, “the decisive moment, the turning point, the crucial time.” All such definitions are, after all, but illustrations of the erosion effected by the entrance of sin upon these shadowed scenes. This is the confirmation of the divine testimony set forth in Romans 5:12. Modern man is, in a very definite and tragic sense, a “crisis creature.”
Reference is made to a particular facet of the element of “identity” in the containment of “crisis.” Insistently, modern man stands in the wide, dark and empty place crying aloud, “Who Am I?” Here is the crisis of lack of anchorage, the sense of moorage. Despite the totality of drive revealed upon the exterior scene, there is the sense of drift and decay within the interior setting. Outside, there may be high purpose, yet alas! deep within there is no purpose, and the battered, broken life eddies about upon a fetid stream whispering downward into nothingness. Modern man’s exercises in the direction of amusement are but the bearers of validity.
“Identity Crisis” remains, then, the critical factor, for it touches modern man at his most sensitive point. All others are “of the earth, earthy” and conclude their mission at the gates of the grave. Modern man with the misery of “Who am I?” expresses horror for the future as well as hopelessness for the present. The past? ‘Tis but a hazy grief.
There is a lostness, then, a vacuum which burrows the question to the surface. ‘Twas the American author Joseph Heller who worried the similar query, “How Did I Get Here?” These are “twentieth century” questions which find no answer within the compass of these “latter times” (1 Tim. 4:1) and “last days” (2 Tim. 3:1). Modernity moulds no meaning for such agonies of the soul, and one is required to “turn away back” to the eternal testimony of the Scriptures. Ancient history affords the first question (Gen. 3:1), and the dagger of doubt has shredded the tapestry of the succeeding times.
The curl of the question mark is the apex of crisis which clouds answers and realities for the searching heart. The critical area for modern man is pinpointed by an ancient prophet supplying the ageless dictum, “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you” (Isa. 59:2). The double stroke of “separated” and “hidden” form the vital key. “Separated” is “badal… to divide, to surrender.” “Hidden” is “cathar … to cover, to conceal, to keep secret.” Actions duly required of the holiness of God as divine answers to the antagonism of man. Man has shut himself off and away from the Lord God, which has resulted in the societal action of being parted from his fellow man and also to be parted in the singular action from himself … thus the resultant “identity crisis.” The “modernity” of the Lord God is expressed in the poignancy of his compassionate call, “Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:9). The timeless message of the Gospel of the Grace of God alone affords the alternative to “plucked up by the roots, raging waves of the sea, wandering stars” (Jude vv. 12, 13). The crisis is alone covered by Calvary.