Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
More on Postmodernism and the Emergent Church Discussion
01/17/2005 - James WhiteNext McLaren speaks of the "apologetic of good lives and good works" being more "costly" than "asserting the message of absolute objective truth or proclaiming a version of Christianity as the true metanarrative." (definition) Of course, the biblical form of apologetics is good lives and good works combined with the assertion of divine, transcendant, unchanging, eternal truth, truth that is then made alive in the hearts of God's elect by the work of the Holy Spirit. But I must confess, I do not understand why it is that the major writers in this field can make general, and often exceptionally critical, comments about "the church," and that is not to be understood as being "offensive." Is this not an implicit statement that those who "assert the message of absolute objective truth or proclaim a version of Christianity as the true metanarrative" are not paying the "cost" that the Emergent folks are?
"I think most Christians grossly misunderstand the philosophical baggage associated with terms like absolute and objective (linked to foundationalism and the myth of neutrality)," McLaren said. "Similarly, arguments that pit absolutism versus relativism, and objectivism versus subjectivism, prove meaningless or absurd to postmodern people: They're wonderful modern arguments that backfire with people from the emerging culture."This is where eyes glaze over on the part of many conservative Reformed folks who just don't find a lot of benefit in the philosophies of the age, let alone its terminology. Most Christians may "grossly misunderstand" such philosophical baggage, but my experience has been that the effort needed to try to pin down a postmodernist on their ever-changing understanding of said terms is not really worth it. The attack upon "foundationalism" that is part and parcel of postmodernism should, I believe, be handled in the context of the biblical revelation rather than the philosophers classroom, but I have likewise found it next to impossible to get those impacted by postmodernism to allow that kind of exegetically-based discussion to take place. They would, it seems, much rather invest hours and hours wondering if language can communicate meaning than actually delve into the inspired Word and listen to God speaking. As to the "myth of neutrality," such is hardly a proper criticism, for any Reformed evangelical is already well aware of the fact that all things are created by God, all things are thereby defined by Him; there is no neutral ground, no neutral facts, and mankind cannot be neutral, pro or con, regarding the truth.
Church is not a place one attends but a community to which one belongs, he said. The community shares in mission and spiritual practice. It is rooted in a common story whose emphasis is on the continuing work here and now, always drawing from our past.Of course the church is not a place one attends, it is the Body of Christ. Why is there such an aversion on the part of postmodernists to use biblical language to express biblical truths? Surely there is no subject where more inspired language is available than the subject of the nature of the church, but instead we get all this language that can only suggest that what the postmodernists are trying to say is we need an upgrade. GodsWord 1.0 won't cut it anymore. We can't get away with just downloading some patches, some service packs. No, we need BigFluffyStory 10.0. Proclamation replaced with narrative. Truth with experience. An entire new interface.
May I suggest that postmodernism in this form is simply a statement of unbelief in the Spirit's ability to radically alter the dialogismoi/j , the thinking, the reasoning, of the mind of the elect in His works of regeneration and sanctification? Why do we have to adopt the skeptical, confused, disjointed language and beliefs of the world? Why can't we trust the Spirit to change the hearts and minds of His elect people through the proclamation of the Gospel has He has done for two millennia? Postmodernism does not flow from the imago Dei, it flows from a sinful culture and educational system. Let's not give it an honored seat at the table.