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Challenge of Post-modernism.

by Lien of OZ


The legislative climate (laws) of our land no longer favors Christian tenets (or worldview) as honored above any other. Humanistic ideals derived out of the age of enlightenment (modernism), hold sway over the nation’s legislature. Meanwhile, the political- correctness of post-modernism (pluralism, diversity or multiculturalism) deceptively tempers social and community attitudes. Wither then the voice of the Christian Church?

Historian Arnold Toynbee first used the term post-modern prophetically during the years of WW II. He predicted that the final phase of Western civilization would be dominated by irrational helplessness and anxiety. In the Bible Jesus foresaw this earth’s latter days as times of distress and perplexity between nations (Mat 24; Luke 21:25-26; Mark 13:24-26). Likewise Paul when writing to Timothy described troublous time and men seeking after all deceitfulness and becoming lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (1Ti 4:1-2 ;2Ti 3:13)

In the 1980’s radical changes in architecture, literature (including journalism), art and academic education began to reject logic and enlightened modernism and embraced what is now referred to as post-modernism

Roots of such philosophy might well be found to correspond with the ‘God-is dead’ sentiments and ideas of the 19th century philosopher Fredrick Neitszche. Many of his philosophic principles now saturate Western society. A society in which community morals and ethics are being shaped by preferred choices and indulgent personal needs, relative to individually perceived changing situations. Objective truth or absolutes of right and wrong are now seen as constraints imposed upon diversities of preference, choice or opinion. Common standards of moral law or truth are no longer respected as appropriate for all.

Should the Christian Church, for instance, dare to address any kind of individual or community behaviour as sin, then that is regarded as impacting upon a person’s self-esteem and stimulating a depressing sense of guilt or shame. Sin and evil can no longer be regarded as existing other than in the minds of discriminatory moralizers seeking to impose their own views. Such do-gooders are met with:- "What may well be true for this "Church" is no longer true for ME! What right do you have to tell me how to live?" Community temperament in the trendy relativistic world of post-modernism insists that we must be accepting and tolerant of all manner of lifestyles and cultural practices. Old (traditional) distinctions of right and wrong, good and bad, reality or fantasy, truth and error, even past, present or future, have lost their once universally accepted meaning.

The Church must now come to realize that the traditional methods for proclaiming the gospel, as the answer to the ‘SIN’ problem, while adequate to any disillusioned modernist is now much less powerful when addressing a community captivated by all sorts of irrational and even contradictory beliefs and superstitious spiritual attachments.

Scriptural revelation, claiming unique truth, clashes head-on with a post-modernity trying to adapt to a whole smorgasbord of ‘truths’, religions and cultural options. Confronting though this challenge may be, the spiritual realities and uniqueness of the Christian message nonetheless, continues to provide the answer for the pervasive emptiness created by the failure of human creeds, scientific rationalism and materialist promises.

In the face of the spiritual hunger, that has spawned the growth of post-modernism, associated social fragmentation, tribalism (pluralism and diversity) and consequent rampant confusion, the message of Jesus is afforded new opportunism.

A revived confidence and demonstration of spiritual authority by the Christian Church can meet this challenge. For the contemporary situation is not all that different from the climate into which the gospel of Christ was launched in the first century. The self -same message then turned the Roman world ‘upside down’ (Acts 17:6) but not without consequential opposition. When we read the mood of an aggressive media, even of much public opinion toward the Church, a similar scenario is already under cultivation. Believers-in-Christ cannot withdraw from this duel.