Monday, March 21, 2011

Post Modern and/or Post Christian

I have been expressing a concern about the impact that the cultural atmosphere of postmodernity is having upon the Christian church. When teaching a series called Elements of Evangelism, I have always emphasized that evangelism is a two-way street. The professing Christian is susceptible to intellectual, cultural and moral influence as they interact with the world around them. Some segments of the church respond to this by avoiding significant engagement with the “world.” This is not the answer. On the other side of this picture, there is the tendency to simply embrace everyone and everything as though there is no difference between the world and the church. There seems to be an assumption that if we only accept others, we’ve made positive headway. Both of these approaches will prove unproductive. It is my concern that we have experienced a homogenization that has had strange results for both our culture and the church. The phrase post Christian is likely the best phrase to describe both our culture and much of what is going on in the church. The strange affect that religious and moral relativism has on our culture is that we can use the word Christian to describe things that are not actually Christian. People need not have as their supreme allegiance a love of God in order to be a Christian. They need not have a resolve that the Bible contains (whether they understand them or not) principles by which we are to structure all aspects of individual and corporate life. Portions of the church increasingly shy away from making clear distinctions between a Christian and non-Christian, what is right and wrong, good and bad. For many churches, this is a central tactic in their church-growth formula. Others have rejected the term Christian because it conveys an unfavorable image in the mind of many. Unfortunately, the image of a Christian that replaces this tarnished image is based more on what our culture will be inclined to accept, not what Scripture communicates. In the process of engaging the culture, the two-way street factor has led to the church being shaped by and reflecting the culture instead of transforming the culture. In some cases, the very idea of evangelism is disdained as arrogant and belittling. Important and appropriate distinctions have been rejected in favor of an inappropriate and misguided view of tolerance that is incapable of transforming lives and improving cultural conditions.

The solution? We are in need of people whose love for and trust in God includes a love for and trust in His written revelation to mankind. We can philosophize and engage in various sociological attempts to expand the church but the greatest need we have is for people who are skilled in the use of Scripture to declare and expound upon the truth that sets people free. The church will only be as effective in its efforts to advance the kingdom of God as it is in effectively speaking the truth in love. This being the case, we can anticipate that truth will suffer attack in every age. The most challenging of these attacks is when the church itself, subtly or blatantly, tosses its own explosives into this battle against truth. In this age, the battlefield is covered by the hovering fog of postmodernism. As the church breaths in the haze and fumes floating across the battlefield becoming saturated by this postmodern mist, the battlefield becomes populated with one large homogenized army that fights against itself or fights against no one at all. Truth is compromised and distinctions are impossible to maintain. As those who embrace the reality that the Bible actually contains truth, we recognize the hermeneutical, exegetical and etymological challenges but we have not conceded to the deconstructionist influence that convinces people that it is not possible to arrive at truth. The solution? A genuine, intelligent commitment to the Living God and to His Living Word that produces greater numbers of capable expositors of Biblical truth in season and out of season.

“‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16, NASB)

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