This morning I had coffee with a brother in Christ who is exceptionally talented with great potential to bring glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We had been talking for about an hour when I used the term, Postmodern. His reaction to the term was not at all what I expected.
Suddenly it dawned on me that, while we had been encouraging one another and sharpening one another as iron sharpens iron, in many ways, we had been talking past each other without realizing it. Many of the terms we were using were evoking a much different image than we intended.
Therefore, since I will be adding running commentary on Postmodernism on this website, let me define and clarify what I mean by Modernism vs. Postmodernism in two simple statements. This couplet is the product of years of reading, researching, and reflecting on the topics of change, conflict management, and The Americanization of the Gospel. (see my article)
Modernism is the philosophy, We Can Make It Better.
Postmodernism is the philosophy, We Have Made It Worse.
Modernism developed over centuries as a reaction to classicalism, both secular and religious, where change was a threat to the established order.
Postmodernism is a reaction to the excesses of Modernism and views this as exploiting diminishing resources. In classicalism, man was the product of God or the gods and must render due service. As this view of man’s place in the universe morphed into humanism where man is only accountable to man, modernism was man flexing his muscles to transform the universe into utopia.
However, along the way, man became incredibly good at killing and hence, two world wars and numerous deadly conflicts. This, along with other -isms such as nihilism, communism, etc., produced a blanket of angst and cynicism that engulf the world in the form of Existentialism: The World is absurd. I’m to blame. I must sacrifice myself in order to rectify the sins of my fathers.
The purpose of this article is not to teach a course in philosophy. It is to shine a light of wisdom on the problems we are facing in the world around us. Why are we speaking past each other? Because our world views are different, sometimes opposite.
Listen to those bad conservatives who blindly follow Donald Trump.
No. Listen to those bad progressives who want to pack the courts, destroy trump and his basket of deplorables.
This phenomenon of speaking past each other is also happening in countless churches across the country because of the Americanisation of the Gospel.
In the end, I cannot change the world, the church, my culture. Not even my immediate community. Maybe through this website and this article, I can cause you to stop and listen carefully to the message each side is conveying. Are you a modernist—we can make it better? Or a postmodernist—we have made it worse...you have made it worse?
Is one right and the other wrong? Is one a liar and the other telling the truth?
As a Christian, I want to be a modernist, but recognize the truth of some postmodernists. I hold to the Bible, properly exegeted and expounded, to be my anchor. This makes me a classicalist in the sense that there is One Truth.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.[i]
Concerning Jesus, Peter declared:
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.[ii]
It is only God’s Word to fallen man and through His Son, Jesus Messiah, that I, as an individual, can change anything in my life. It is here I find meaning and purpose. It is here I find peace and stability in a chaotic world.
Who are you and where are you in relationship to Jesus Messiah?
[i] Jn 14:6.
[ii] Acts 4:12.