What if God invented postmodernism?
Could it be that hippie communes have more in common with Biblical Christianity than CEO-led Fortune 500 corporations?
Note: I occasionally republish articles here from my past blog archives. This article was originally written in 2007.
I started reading a fantastic book called Organic Church by Neil Cole, and it got me thinking once again about something I’ve been mulling over for a while.
Some people in church circles have been lamenting over the growth of postmodernism and pine for the “good ol’ days” when objective rationality and logical truth were the norm rather than the celebration of personal experiential beliefs. If this is a correct assessment of postmodernism’s threat to Christianity, then–ironically–postmodernism is just as much of a threat to atheism as well, since postmodern allows for seemingly irrational “faith” in something for which there is (supposedly) no evidence.
I have a different viewpoint however. I am beginning to think that postmodernism is actually a direct movement by God within the “unchurched” post-Christian world.
Postmodernism is distrustful of institutions and centralized organizations and prefers a relational, decentralized lifestyle in areas of human engagement. Postmodernism stresses personal experience over logical truth. Postmodernism is skeptical of claims for a one-size-fits-all approach to life. Postmodernism rejects grand, overarching theories devoid of concrete impact and instead celebrates an on-the-ground, daily walk that is lived out rather than talked about.
Wait a minute, am I really describing postmodernism, or am I describing the first century New Testament Church? Sometimes it seems to me that hippie communes have more in common with Biblical Christianity than CEO-led Fortune 500 corporations.
When I think about how Jesus, the disciples, and the later apostles lived, I think about a tightly-knit community of Kingdom lovers who lived together, ate together, slept together, and traveled together. Church wasn’t a building with a weekly service, it was a family with a mission to adopt new siblings. And this family was relational, decentralized, on-the-ground, experiential, and personalized for each setting, place, and time. Hmm, could it be…might it sound an awful lot like the postmodern milieu we find ourselves in today!
If postmodernism–rather than being a grave threat to Christendom—has received a divine thumbs up, I think it’s likely to be best thing to happen to the Church since 33 A.D. Rather than be frightened by it, we should be rejoicing in our Lord’s sovereign hand that is determined to reshape the Church in His image rather than in our image.
Don’t view it as religious crisis but as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity given to us by Heaven. In this postmodern world, we are witnessing the Church shedding the shackles of modernist pride and institutional hubris and rising up as the glorious Bride of Christ she was always intended to be
I, for one, am excited about the “postmodern” Church. Who’s with me?