DEFINING POSTMODERNISM: CHRISTIANITY AND CONCLUSION

The continuation of the postmodernism discussion. This post addresses the Christians response to postmodernism and concludes the topic by summarizing the main points of postmodernism.

The Postmodernist and the Christian

So what does this mean for Christians? Brian McLaren says, “Emerging Christian leaders are interested in understanding the shift in culture and how it affects Christianity because it helps them grapple with the problem of making the faith relevant to a younger generation that has increasingly left the faith.”[1] To reach people in the new postmodern context, we must set ourselves to the task of deciphering the implications of postmodernism for the gospel.[2] As many people in the postmodernist world turn off the controlling, demanding metanarrative of Modern Era Christianity preaching, the Christian community is at a crossroads. It can either continue down the path of an era that is dead in modernism, or it can reform its ways to reach a whole new generation. A generation that has seen the hypocrisy of the church and its believers. A generation that is tired of the argumentative style of old. A generation that has hear enough words and in its multi-sensory was see the observable acts of love. The postmodern world has some realization that it is a fallen world, but they are searching for a hope. The Christian must live as a person of hope and truth in the midst of a society that do not believe in truth. In a world that is more interested in stories, if the Christian can move from a modern approach to an approach listening and telling stories, the opportunities for evangelism are out there. In a world craving hope and interested in spirituality, it is an exciting time for Christians. But also a time, where change needs to happen and the Christians approach must be different than the past.

The great theologian A.W. Tozer writes, “We cannot present Christ and His atoning work as if it were one of many ‘virtual’ options. The postmodernist can ‘accept’ Christianity or reject it without ever considering its ‘reality.’ To him, there would be no contradiction in accepting more than one if not many religions. Today, we hear of many ‘faiths,’ any one of which becomes truth for the one accepting it.”[3] The gospel hasn’t changed and we cannot conform it to society. To make a difference in this new culture, it will be an act of trust in God Almighty. The Christian must learn from the past and bring the greatest story of hope and grace to life. If the postmodernist is interested in stories, then the Christian has a whole book of stories to tell, including the greatest story ever told. The story of Jesus Christ and His redemption and love for this fallen world. Os Guinness writes:

But perhaps postmodernism’s main challenge to the church is to our central mission as Christians: following Christ and making him Lord in all of life. The church cannot become simply another customer center that offers designer religion and catalogue spirituality to the hoppers and shoppers of the modern world. Followers of Christ are custodians of the faith passed on down the running centuries. Never must we allow anyone outside or inside the church to become cannibals who devour the truth and meaning of this priceless heritage of faith. Letting the church be the church and the gospel be the gospel is integral to letting God be God.[4]

Conclusion

In the song, Dylan records, “For he that gets hurt; will be he who has stalled; There’s a battle outside; And it’s ragin’,” speaks to the heart of those that do not change with the times. That as Christians, if we try to do things as they were done in previous times, like the Modern Era, we will be a dying breed in a world that is tired of our oppressive, domineering claims. In a world that is more interested in hearing stories, our standard operating procedure needs to be updated from that of an argumentative controlling lecture of people to the humble stories of God’s grace and amazing redemptive abilities. The battle is raging all around us and if we do not step up in a this dark, pessimistic world that sees no hope, than many will get hurt and our future will be much darker and with much less hope.

Postmodernism may not be able to be defined, because to do so would be to put a label on it. But for the purpose of this exercise, it is the writers belief that postmodernism originally was a movement in the arts as a direct affront to modernism. It has since invaded every aspect of our culture and we are now living in the time of postmodernism. The postmodernism of today believes that there is not authority on truth and the source of any truth comes from community. History and knowledge can no longer be trusted because of previous metanarratives and language cannot be trusted. Postmodernism celebrates diversity and is concerned for the marginalized. It is an ever changing, always connected, multi-sensory world that believes in the inter-connectedness of all things and limited resources of the world in which we live in. Postmodernism is pessimistic about science and technology and is skeptical of the world in which we live in.

[1] Jennifer Riley, “Brian McLaren: Postmodern Christianity Understood as Story,” Christian Post, Internet, available from http://www.christianpost.com/news/brian-mclaren-postmodern-christianity-understood-as-story-31238/, accessed 28 February 2014.

[2] Grenz, 7.

[3] A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, (Harrisburg: Christian, 1958), 69.

[4] Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 110.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Crouch, Andy. “What Exactly is Postmodernism?” Christianity Today, November 2000.

Grenz, Stanley. A Primer on Postmodernism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Guinness, OS. Fit Bodies, Fat Minds. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

Keller, Tim. “Preaching Morality in an Amoral Age.” The Resurgence Leadership Journal. Internet. Available from http://theresurgence.com/files/pdf/tim_keller_1996-01-01_preaching_morality_in_an_amoral_age, accessed 1 March 2014.

McLaren, Brian. “An Open Letter to Chuck Colson.” A New Kind of Christian. Internet. Available from http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000018.html, accessed 28 February 2014.

McGrath, Alister E.. Christian Theology: An Introduction. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Postmodernism. 20 February 2014, 05:13 UTC. In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Encyclopedia on-line. Available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism. Internet. Retrieved 28 February 2014.

Riley, Jennifer. “Brian McLaren: Postmodern Christianity Understood as Story.” Christian Post. Internet. Available from http://www.christianpost.com/news/brian-mclaren-postmodern-christianity-understood-as-story-31238/, accessed 28 February 2014.

Tozer, A. W.. The Pursuit of God. Harrisburg: Christian, 1958.

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