Archives For postmodernism

“This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.

The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age.”

Mark Galli with some very interesting thoughts, on Christianity Today.

I’ve run into this very quote and situation numerous times, each time the implication being that we need to be ‘actionally active’ and ‘verbally passive’, or something like that. It’s as if we read the book of Acts and ignore the great sermons (which to me seem to be the thrust of much of the book) and say that actually we just need to keep quiet and get on with it.

Of course, this isn’t true; the gospel needs to be preached verbally and through the effective preaching of the Word the Holy Spirit regenerates hearts to serve Him well too, providing another effective witness.

But our culture has for much part lost the value of words, and so little mantras like the one above (for it really is like a religious chant) slip in, sound cool, but if left unchecked can be quite dangerous, especially to a young Christian mind.

So let us continue in the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2) so we might use wisdom and discernment in dealing with the bombardment of ideas jumping our way, that we might sift out truth and discard error.

We’re in a shooting war and we can’t afford to put down the rifles that God has given us to advance his Kingdom. The preaching of the Word by the Holy Spirit is powerful, life-changing and glorious. He has promised the power of it to us (Isa. 55:11) and we have witnessed it ourselves. We must not get muddled and confused where God has spoken plain and clearly.

I just came across the cover article (thanks to D. Groothuis) of the recent edition of Christianity Today. It is a 5-page essay from William L. Craig presenting, in a condensed manner, the major philosophical arguments for the existence of God. In addition to presenting the arguments, Craig also underscores the importance of using these apologetic tools today, in the process dispelling some myths about post-modernity. I’ve quoted a few paragraphs below but I highly recommend to anyone to read the whole article.

**note the nod towards the emergent church at the end of the first paragraph

However all this may be, some might think that the resurgence of natural theology in our time is merely so much labor lost. For don’t we live in a postmodern culture in which appeals to such apologetic arguments are no longer effective? Rational arguments for the truth of theism are no longer supposed to work. Some Christians therefore advise that we should simply share our narrative and invite people to participate in it.

This sort of thinking is guilty of a disastrous misdiagnosis of contemporary culture. The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unlivable. People are not relativistic when it comes to matters of science, engineering, and technology; rather, they are relativistic and pluralistic in matters of religion and ethics. But, of course, that’s not postmodernism; that’s modernism! That’s just old-line verificationism, which held that anything you can’t prove with your five senses is a matter of personal taste. We live in a culture that remains deeply modernist.

Otherwise, how do we make sense of the popularity of the New Atheism? Dawkins and his ilk are indelibly modernist and even scientistic in their approach. On the postmodernist reading of contemporary culture, their books should have fallen like water on a stone. Instead, people lap them up eagerly, convinced that religious belief is folly.

Seen in this light, tailoring our gospel to a postmodern culture is self-defeating. By laying aside our best apologetic weapons of logic and evidence, we ensure modernism’s triumph over us. If the church adopts this course of action, the consequences in the next generation will be catastrophic. Christianity will be reduced to but another voice in a cacophony of competing voices, each sharing its own narrative and none commending itself as the objective truth about reality. Meanwhile, scientific naturalism will continue to shape our culture’s view of how the world really is.

This is taken from a Christianity Today article on Francis Schaeffer and L’Abri, by Molly Worthen:

The modernist philosophy that he targeted in most of his writings, the bogeyman of existentialism, is passé. “Now the question is, Is there truth at all?” said worker Thomas Rauchenstein, a soft-spoken Canadian with sandy brown hair and a close-cropped beard. “Postmodernism’s critique of truth is more of a factor in students’ thinking.”

This just shows the complete misunderstanding of Schaeffer’s teachings. He saw, felt and understood post-modernism which is the reason he pushed strongly presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositonal apologetics do not rest on modernism, but on truth – which does exist no matter what worldview you hold. Schaeffer, by pushing people to the Line of Despair, helped people realise that their presuppositions were faulty, incoherent and unliveable.

In an age of non-truth we do not play the field to the post-modern rule book. Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life” – therefore if people do not understand truth our apologetic must first target truth, in turn to reveal Jesus.