Posts Tagged ‘Postmodernism

28
Jan
12

an open mind

It is fashionable to celebrate ‘an open mind’.  However, as C K  Chesterton said,

“The purpose of an open mind, like an open mouth, is to close on something solid.

05
Apr
11

new evangelical myths and monsters

Question

What do the following have in common?

  • egalitarianism (the Bible does not teach male leadership in home and marriage; leadership is transgender)
  • homosexual practice is not a sin (an almost irresistible corollary to the above)
  • inclusivism (faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation)
  • a denial of penal substitution
  • God has no wrath
  • hell does not exist or will ultimately be empty
  • the gospel is primarily a socio-political message for change now
  • Gen 1-3 is myth

Answer

They are all examples of a hermeneutic of accommodation that is invading evangelicalism. There are more, of course, but this is a fair sample.

Comment

None of these beliefs is an obvious inference from the Bible.  Only hermeneutical sleight of hand can make a (specious) case for any.  None is part of historical Christian orthodoxy (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Eastern) and even less part of Evangelical orthodoxy.  The single unifying  drive for each and all comes from contemporary culture.  These are part of present unimpeachable cultural orthodoxy and by-hook-or-by-crook they must become part of a Designer Evangelical Christian orthodoxy which cannot bear to be inelegant or gauche; and so, the weight of biblical truth must give way to the whim of cultural trends.

We are prepared to abandon core biblical truths in order to be liked and hip and respectable.  Thus we employ creative hermeneutics to accommodate: we create highly-speculative reconstructed backgrounds to problem texts; we play the culturally-conditioned-limitations-of-Scripture card; we pose a trajectory theory; we arbitrarily privilege an aspect of who God is and the gospel that appeals (God is love…) and so on.  These ‘principles of interpretation’ help to make Scripture say what we want it to say (if we don’t look too closely) and we breathe a sigh of comfortable middle-classed relief and sink into the sofa with a stemmed-glass of chilled wine.

And, after all, what the Bible says, let’s be honest, is not that important.  Yes, we like to hear that God loves us, accepts us as we are, and that we will live forever in a new exciting world.  In fact the new exciting world begins now; the gospel means indignation at oil spills, female oppression, greedy corporations and the like. But all that stuff about the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Canaanites, the sons of Korah, the exile in babylon, the rich man in hell, people thrown into a lake of fire… well com’on… we’re the café latte generation… the suburbanites who party and play… we don’t get it… that’s scary stuff… primitive stuff… that’s the God of the OT… all fire and thunder and smoking mountains… stick to the big print and ignore the detail (even if it is not really detail but part of the big print).

Should we have women teaching the church?  For goodness sake woman teach everywhere else in life.  Look at all these women preachers most of them better than men… you say the Bible forbids it, but that’s your opinion, your interpretation, it’s not mine…anyway, its well-known there are lots of views on this… and the Bible’s not clear… though, the trajectory is clear, in Christ there is neither male nor female… time to get past these jaded questions , I have.. get real… concentrate on what really matters… we’re living in the C21 not the C1… what kind of ‘good news’ is it to modern women to tell them they must submit to men… we need a theology to suit, a more refined, nuanced and generous orthodoxy.

And it is a rapidly evolving orthodoxy (an oxymoron).

It is an orthodoxy that increasingly deems it oppressively patriarchal to speak of God as Father…  God is not male… let’s drop male pronouns… he is as much a she as a he… its not enough to be silent about women’s leadership you must be actively for it.. and while we are at it we should avoid psychologically crushing ideas of eternal punishment… notions like these traumatise people… they are toxic… hell is now and what we make it…  and who are we to claim our message is right and other religions have got it so wrong… to tell people their religion is wrong and they must become Christians is simply a power play… we must learn humility and avoid the arrogance of certainty and absolutes… we must avoid hate-crime… we must not try to force people into the Kingdom by fear… fear is a negative unhealthy emotion… it is manipulative and ugly.

And so the Orwellian nightmare is enacted in the church.  The past is reimagined – biblical truth and Church tradition are rewritten.  Evangelical newspeak simplifies language.  God words like head, submit, wrath, hell, holiness, dread, fear and the like disappear.  We are left with love and a few synonyms.

If you really want to see the trajectory of evangelical church life today, then in my view this is it.

Christians who love God and his Word need to wake up to this revolution.  It is happening in a church near you… perhaps in your church.  It will be all too easy to sleepwalk into apostasy.  For that is what it will finally be.  It will be hard to resist.  The tide will be strong and against you. You will be caricatured as a museum specimen, a relic from the past, stingy, hard, prejudiced, loveless, boringly predictable, staid, intolerant, ungracious, unimaginative, a people hater, daft and dangerous, and many other things.  You will be defending what is mocked as passé and oppressive.

But, God knows, we need people to be willing to take such a stand.  Unless we stand against a hermeneutic of accommodation the church and the world will, like the pigs and the humans in Orwell’s Animal Farm, simple fade into each other and be indistinguishable; the church will simply become the world.

Is this what you want for your church?

You may at the moment have embraced only one or two on the opening list, you may not buy the whole package yet.  But you will.  Give yourself and your church time.  Why?  Because you have bought the hermeneutic you just haven’t fully applied it.

Am I exaggerating, being melodramatic?  I don’t think I am.  You must judge.  Of Course, God in grace may interfere and change things radically.  He may stem the haemorrhage of truth.  If he does, are you and I willing to be part of his solution?  Are we willing to be part of it now even if it costs us family and friends and fellowship?  Even if it means being unsophisticated and uncool and impolite?

27
Mar
10

lost, a postmodern parable

The TV series ‘Lost’ has been a phenomenal success.  The reason is probably related to how successfully it has tapped into the C21 postmodern ‘zeitgeist’.  Postmoderns believe in multi-narratives with none privileged.   The journey is more important than the destination and mystery is more meaningful than explanation.  Believing is more profound than knowing and believing is all the more admirable if it has no real basis. Oscar Dahl’s review puts it well,

At its basest level, “Lost” is about life. The island is a microcosm of our everyday existence. For instance, the situation Kate finds herself in is far-fetched (not a lot of us are on the run for killing our stepdads), but the feeling of not knowing anything, of being entirely confused, of struggling with meaning, of searching for answers to unknowable questions, is universal. Life is like being on the island — we don’t know why we’re here, we don’t really know what to do, but we still search for answers. And we often fail, even with the best intentions in mind.

‘Lost’ is our world viewed through a postmodern lens.  In some senses it articulates with a biblical view.  The Bible teaches that we are ‘lost’.  However, there is a profound and vital difference.  In a postmodern world being ‘lost’ has no resolution whereas in the gospel there is resolution.  If the programme is true to its po-mo world then there will be no final explanations and resolutions, however, few live consistently with their philosophies.  Postmodern confusion is not ultimately satisfying and the human heart longs for resolution so it will be interesting to see how consistent with its po-mo ethos the ending is.

Read Dahl’s review here.

18
Feb
10

pomo pretentious piffle (Cont)




the cavekeeper

The Cave promotes the Christian Gospel by interacting with Christian faith and practice from a conservative evangelical perspective.

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