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Friday, April 13, 2007

A Quick Layover

After ten posts in one month about the emerging/emergent church, you may have been a bit surprised to see me change focus. When I invited their party to detrain (though they are welcome to stay aboard for the conversation), it may have seemed a little abrupt. It may be wise to explain why I began punching other tickets.

I'm not sure I believe in post-modernism.

Like an atheist who claims not to believe in God, you're probably thinking, It doesn't matter what you think, Danny. Facts are facts. Of course, you'd be right. Allow me to explain. Let's pretend the Lord tarries another 500 years (but pray He doesn't). Will the people 500 years from today really recognize postmodernism as seperate from modernism? Of course! you scoff, I can't believe Danny can't see the difference!

But consider the following:
    Some claim postmodernism is dead.
Books have been produced and theorists speculate that 9/11 killed postmodernism. Perhaps they are right, or perhaps not. Either way, it shows that postmodernism may already be off its moorings a bit. If so, and the movement only lasted a couple of generations, do you really think it will be considered a completely different era?
    It's reaction based.
Ever wonder why modernity wasn't called "post-dark ages?" Specific inventions, philosophy and discoveries played into the development of modernism. Sure, it responded to some things in the era before it, but largely it developed as a unique movement.
    It should probably be called "plus-modernism"
Since it is a reaction, many times they just took the modernist philosphy to the next level. It is truly a misnomer to consider postmodernism the antithesis of modernism. Postmodernism is really like modernism's little brother. They look pretty similar, its just that postmodernism is a little more extreme. (Please don't read that as me saying one is better than the other. They could be the rough bully brothers around the block, for all I care. I merely call modernism the bigger brother because it came first...hence the names.)
    I'm not sure I buy modernism either.
That's just my way of saying, I think when we label eras, we sometimes get ourselves in trouble. Back in Jesus' time, there were wonderfully postmodern statements and also postmodern thinking floating around. There really is nothing new under the sun. We may speak differently or emphasize a different point, but each era is a group of people rebelling against God and trying to excuse themselves.

And though these men probably wouldn't sign onto this post, David Wells, Os Guinness and Phil Johnson (to name three), all agree that postmodernism has more in common with modernity than most recognize.

Labyrinths, lectio divina, centering prayer, yoga and icons. Do those things bother me? To varying degress, yes. But these are just outworkings of another list that bothers me:

Undermining of: substitutionary atonement, heaven, hell, eschatology, the Kingdom future, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, progressive sanctification, transformational separatism, propositional truth, sufficiency of Scripture, perspicuity of Scripture, necessity of Scripture, inspiration of Scripture, limitations to general revelation...and on and on. (If you have ECM sympathies, relax, I am not saying every EC has these characteristics. But these trends do come up in some ECM discussions. Don't forget, I'm letting you off the hook.)

Here's why the ECM was given a pass from here on out.

If there are concerning practices that trouble us, they are probably born out of troubling philosophy. And since modernity and postmodernity are quite similar (in my opinion), their troubling philosophy may actually be shared.

Some of the current extreme trends in the ECM do look quite a bit like a train wreck. But we don't learn anything from just staring at the wreckage, we've got to examine where the train got off the tracks.


  • At 9:52 AM, Blogger Journeyman said…

    You said...

    "Postmodernism is really like modernism's little brother. They look pretty similar, its just that postmodernism is a little more extreme."

    I would say and go a step further; Postmodernism as such is to more accurate, the stepchild of modernism. PM is the natural outworking & result of mankind putting its trust in enlightenment rationalism as a cohesive and coherent philosophical system and its failure to deliver on its promise of utopia. In modernisms own deterministic, naturalistic understanding of ultimate reality and its rejection of a solidly defensible biblical worldview, the seeds of its own destruction was assured. PM is the rejection and repudiation of these very tenets and beliefs. PM was/is inevitable given modernisms complete reliance upon science & technology as the only instruments of reason and progress and hope for man within a closed system. When the utter bankruptcy of enlightenment-rationalism was exposed by, for example two world wars, the holocaust and the ushering in of the nuclear age the promise of utopia was seen for what it is; A dead end. Thus, in my opinion (and those of the Christian commentators you mentioned) PM is not so much a “new” philosophical approach to living but rather it is trying to make sense of a world that for almost 300 years (I would suggest its longer: try since the garden) has bought into the idea that we are the masters of our own destiny; That our future as a species is within our grasp. That the evolutionary track we find ourselves on is well within our power to manipulate and adjust as we see fit. All this and more is being thrown off and rejected. PM is more or less the fruit of the tree that enlightenment-rationalism as a system has become. So in a sense you’re right to say that just like atheists who are those who do not believe in a supreme being, we are those who shouldn’t believe in PM as a completely “new” way of ordering our lives. I much prefer the analogy that PM can be likened to the coffee grounds that got past the filter and lie at the bottom of your mug once you have finished drinking the brew. You enjoyed the coffee. Now what do we do with what’s left over?
    And as Christians, that question & and the answer about what do we do with what’s left over is perhaps our opportunity to show forth the love that our God has for lost & dying humanity by sending His beloved Son into the world. The only question I have left to ask is. “Are we ready?”

    The Journeyman

  • At 4:22 PM, Blogger BReformed said…

    Steve, when are you going to start writing essays on your own blog?

    I find it intersting when people write long comments correcting or "enlightening" someone else, almost anonymously, but they won't write their own original thoughts for a reciprocal discussion.

  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger Journeyman said…

    Sorry to have offended your bloggin' sensibilities there Dave. But I was under the impression that the "blogosphere" was open to the genreal public and as such was free. Oh well, at least you found it "interesting" no less on someone elses blog. Besides all that, all i was trying to do was fit in. You guys seemed to have some pretty good dicsussions going here
    (unlike some other places I've been) but it would seem that unless I respond as some unwritten rule says I ought, I don't belong. Looks like exclusivity is claimed here too and unless someone "fits in" they seem not to be welcomed here either. I can take the hint. Just one more thing Dave, when you saw me at church tonight, why didn't you have the guts to come tell me face to face that I was doing something wrong. Goodbye.

  • At 8:26 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    good grief.

    i feel like i need to threaten to pull the car over and separate you two!!!


    i didn't mind your comment. if i had, i would have responded. (don't forget, this is my blog...not david's). it's a shame if you're going to shut comments down just because someone else said something. the blogosphere requires a little thicker skin than that! ;-)

    i will agree with david, though. i wasn't sure if your comment was agreeing or disagreeing. you've obviously read and worked through some of these issues. seeing your thoughts mapped out on a site would be nice.


    obviously, you have some history here with journeyman (since you know who he is, and i'm clueless). steve (only got the name from your comment) should probably have been asked this question one to one.

    no matter what, i'm not sure david's comments were met as an attack. but again, i don't know any history.

    now quit fighting about who's edging into who's part of the back seat and sit nicely. ;-)

  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger Journeyman said…

    Well Dan, I didn't think you did mind. Otherwise, I'd be up in the front seat "fighting" with you instead. But in all seriousness though, I apologize for offending any and all blogosphere rules. I, as a novice was unaware of these. So once again I apologize to one and all. And as for "shutting down comments", you mean I have that kind of power? The kind of power that Dave seems to think he has? Never matter. We'll get this settled, as we always seem to have done, at least until the next time.

    Peace, I hope.

  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger BReformed said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.


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