Well, after that long, and I’m sure for most, boring history lesson, let’s start getting to what everyone has been waiting for. Postmodernism is what comes after modernism. Clever name isn’t it? Postmodernism is completely changed what it meant to be modern. If you can’t easily point out the change in the last few decades, then you’re probably not looking very hard. The first problem with postmodernism is that it is in the process of coming into our culture. It is hard to define, and a lot of things are still being worked out in it. That is a problem because SO many people have asked me what postmoderinity is and really, it’s still a definition in progress so I can’t just give them an answer. To define it its rawest form could be to say that it’s a state that has come out from modernity. Postmodernism formed because society couldn’t live in modernity anymore. Postmodernism has risen up by learning from modernity and moving forward for a brighter future.
Now, the part that gets interesting is how this infiltrates into the church, and what do Christians do with this information. It is no longer even a debatable issue that postmodernism isn’t on the rise, so how do we as Christians and we as the church respond to this? Well first, we have to change, we can’t stay in modernity. We can’t simply cling to modernity and neglect the change in culture. We all need to learn to have a successful balance of both faith and culture.
I find right now in my circle of friends that you can see both modern Christians and postmodern ones. Modern and postmodern define their culture integration, not their level or anything of Christianity. Let me go through some differences that I personally see. Beware, I’m not saying that either one is good or bad. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m just pointing out some differences.
Won’t go to bars
Won’t touch alcohol
Won’t listen to secular music
Enjoys altar calls
Won’t go to parties
Loves to go to church as much as possible
Emphasis on worship services
Raising hands is a sign of spiritual success
Wants to see numbers
Loves to run programs
A lot based on reason
Will go to bars
Drinks but not to get drunk
Just looks at swearing as a word, but usually refrains because they know how everyone else looks at it
Looks at all gifts from God, including those in secular music bands
Finds altar calls repetitious
Will go to parties
Find church repetitious, prefers small groups
Emphasis on worship lifestyle and action
Raising hands doesn’t determine anything to me for someone else
Wants to see success, not necessarily numbers
Loves to be with people, not programs
A lot based on experience, not reason
Look through this chart, and see where you fall on different issues. This is such a small amount of issues, trust me, there is a thousand more. Now you will find, I’m sure, that you fall into category #1 on some occasions and category #2 on some occasions. I’m sure for most of you, you will believe one category, but live the other one. Now here is my guess. If you have a large amount of instance that fall into the first category, you probably are a modern; second category, postmodern. I’ve seen both sides of people in the same church. Both sides, for almost every issue have excellent arguments to support their claims, and I wouldn’t say that one is right and the other is wrong, they are simply just different.
The second category of Christian there you will find is a lot more connected to culture than the first. The reason is because the second category is the postmodern twist on some issues in Christianity. Both sides will probably argue their sides to the death, but that’s not my goal here. My goal here is to make you aware of what is going down in the society and churches around you. All of our Christian stuff, such as radio, music, movies, denominations, Bible studies, and so on are modern inventions. Within the world of the church, almost every influence is a modern one. Meanwhile, step outside the church, and more and more cultural influences are postmodern. To Christians steeped in modernity, to move toward postmoderinity can only look like ‘worldliness,” declension, decline, sliding away from the truth as they know it. (McLaren)
We’ll leave it at there for tonight I think. It gives you a taste of where I’m going, but don’t worry there is still so much more to cover, and I’m enjoying every bit of it, whether anyone reads this or not. If this stuff is interesting to you, pick up Bryan McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christian. A lot of my research began with him and his way of explaining it like a novel or a story is really easy to read and makes so much more sense.