In 1968 Francis Schaeffer wrote Escape from Reason. In it, he saw that there was a massive revolt happening. It was a revolt against the institutions (sound familiar?) and the rationality that built them (sound familiar?). Schaeffer said that the pursuit of reason (think “it’s the science”) did not yield the utopia which everyone expected. The result was that institutions and reason were being cast off. He said in ’68, that they were becoming “post-everything, post-modern, post-history, post-sociology, post-psychology” (Sound familiar?).
Schaeffer observed that the philosophical outcome of this ‘post-everything’ approach is literally, madness. But he wasn’t just writing off people. He summarized the necessary conclusion of the post-modern view this way: “the ultimate in autonomous freedom is being crazy. It is a fine thing to be crazy, for then you are free” (p.91).
No one speaks about “madness” today (except Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds). We talk mostly about mental illness as a useful therapeutic category. But it might be time for us to recover the moral category of “madness.” It is an awful choice in favour of “autonomous freedom.” Autonomous freedom is the sinful choice from Adam, to the days of the Judges “everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” to the libertarian question posed in the sixth chapter of Romans, “shall we sin that grace may abound?” There’s a reason that it sounds crazy because it is.
When an old-timer says that everyone is going crazy, he’s speaking more insightfully than you give him credit for. Of course, what is needed is a power that can deliver from madness. And it can’t just be sterile science. It requires power that is deeper and higher and divine. When will people give up, and turn to Jesus Christ who had the power to deliver the madman, “the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion [of demons]”? Now, as much as at any time in history, post-modern man needs a deliverance that will leave him, “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).