Defining Postmodern for the Modern Mind

iStock_000036682216SmallThe church has been labeled by many as an opposer of societal progress. Historically speaking, religious factions have certainly given cause for this characterization. Seemingly, the church is the first to oppose advancement in nearly every realm of influence, including its own. This, however, is a crass generalization. It pertains only to a margin of believers who are the first to resist and the last to embrace. In fairness, the heroes of faith, (Abraham, Moses, Deborah, David, Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, among numerous others) were agents of serious change. Each daringly broke a mold to become a prototype for a new historical epoch he or she singlehandedly inaugurated. Anyone who acts in faith will always be on the side of progress, seeing it takes great faith to instigate change. Religious resistors operate in the anti-faith power of fear. If we grow too comfortable with our way of life, the world will change around us while we fight to hold onto the blinding bliss of the way things were.

Not all change is progress. Progress, however, absolutely cannot happen without change. Reformers, like Christ, channel their energy towards creating a new norm, rather than trying to hold onto something they feel is threatened. The purpose of this post is to bring illumination to the reformative purposes of the Postmodern era as I see them evolving. Let us not waste time nursing fear that nonnegotiables are in jeopardy. Truth is inextinguishable and under fire it thrives. This is perhaps the most exciting time to be alive! If knowledge is power, knowing our time and season will empower us to inaugurate a period of enlightenment and reform.

Who’s behind this change of season? Might we blame the secularists for poisoning the minds of our young? Maybe backslidden Christians have pulled the plug on passion with sinfulness and lagging attendance? Perhaps its the blatant disinterest in programs and special events that once drew ample participation? Though we’ve tried to blame others, we fail to see the Bigger Hand at work in what seems to be negatives. Daniel 2:21 NIV says, “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Discerning souls see the truth of what is happening. Wise people see wisdom in some of the changes that are afoot. Rest assured that God is at work, my friend. His purposes WILL prevail.

The term “Postmodern” was first coined in 1979 by sociologist Jean-Francois Lyotard, in his book The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Since, it has come to represent to some, the best of times – to others, the worst of times. Both views are certainly true depending on how you wish to view things. We are responsible, as believers, to identify the purpose of our times and to play our redemptive role in that story. May this and subsequent related posts inspire you to this end. According to sociologists, there are three main philosophical eras.

Premodern Era

  • 1500s and earlier
  • Absolute truth is revealed by God or a god.
  • Authority is rooted in the church or religious systems.

Modern Era

  • 1500s – 1900s
  • Truth is discovered by the five human senses (empirical evidence).
  • Truth is also discovered by human logic or reason.
  • Authority shifts to universities, academia, political realms.

Postmodern Era

  • Late 1900s – current
  • Truth is revealed by all prior mentioned methods, as well as…
  • Socially, relationally, and experientially.
  • Because authority sources are distrusted, less hierarchical authority structures are preferred.

Fundamental differences in philosophy determine how truth is defined and stewarded in each era. The modern era, though seemingly humanistic in description, was brought on by a religious revival. German inventor, Johannes Gutenburg in 1439 AD invented the first printing press for the purpose of mass producing Bibles. Heretofore, Bibles were rare, chained to pulpits, printed in Hebrew, Latin or Greek, and only available to educated clergy. Fast-forward to 1517 AD when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Castle Church Door in Wittenburg, Germany. Luther effectively waged war on the Catholic Church and called into question 95 different points of doctrinal difference. He supposed that every man should have access to the Bible in his native language, and be the arbiter of his own faith. If man could have and read his own bible, he would quickly discern and abandon the faulty doctrines of the church. Gutenburg’s press was now improved and capable of meeting the demand of mass production. With this revolution, great light flooded the earth fueling aspects of the Renaissance and subsequent Enlightenment. [NOTE: I am not suggesting that the church should be abandoned, but merely reformed. Neither am I suggesting that the ideas and philosophies of the Renaissance and Enlightenment were fully congruent with Biblical thought. There were, however, advancements in the disciplines that would have never come about without the light of God at work within human minds of that time.]

It was Gutenburg, Luther, and their contemporaries who championed the individual as capable of discovering truth, outside of the religious organization of the day. Characteristic of the Modern Era, these men played their role in the redemptive story for their times. Likewise, there are godly people alive, operating in the characteristics of the Postmodern Era, who will play their role in the great reform that is underway.

In the next post, I will discuss the 10 Characteristics of the Postmodern Era, and describe the mindset of today’s influential thinkers. Please feel free to ask questions, comment or contribute to our ongoing conversation through a “reply” to this post. I really want to hear your heart and communicate with you as well as explore what God might be doing in our generation.

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8 thoughts on “Defining Postmodern for the Modern Mind

  1. Dear Melissa

    Thanks for your email.

    It is interesting times and God is moving and revealing things quickly to those who are open and willing to be challenged, willing to be ridiculed for being extreme.

    I’m on a journey exactly a year now, where God is teaching me the ancient paths of His patterns, seasons and timelines through studying the old testament and jewish/biblical calendar and feasts. My faith has been strengthened so much.

    May we all take responsibility for working out our own salvation and trusting Holy Spirit to bring understanding and Truth!

    Sent from my BlackBerry®

    • Christell,
      Your journey is one that is greatly rewarding and illuminating! The feasts enrich our understanding of the scriptures and history in ways one would never expect. Blessings as you pursue knowledge and wisdom in our Infinite and Ever-Present God!

  2. We are living in a time of awakening. And God is pouring out The Holy Spirit just like He promised. It will be more and more common for so called ordinary believers to speak their message. Remember our first love and watch and pray. Father, help us please not to quench Him. I was reminded yesterday of the narrow way.

  3. Your insights are very interesting. God has seemingly given you a prophetic “overview” if you will about what He would like to do within the church walls. My heart’s hope is that some of His sheep would only step out of the way so that He could really reveal His power and progress! The way He wanted to. I believe the results would astound people all over the world!
    In Christ
    Missy Hood

  4. I think God is in the process of rearranging and revamping His church to the way He wants it, and as we look to Him only and are willing to be just who He has each created us to be and without pretense then we shall be available to Him and He will indeed visit us with His prescence and power. That religious spirit has just got to leave the church then! Our performance won’t do but God’s performance on our behalf certainly will do! I’m looking forward to the time when the Lord will truly be in charge of His own church!

  5. I find myself in a time of ditching a lot of books that I have had from various ministeries and seeking the Lord’s mercy and the Word of God more closely instead. As I look back on my life I see that God did use some of these books to encourage me in past times, but more recently none of the books I have help. God is drawing me to rely upon Him and His word and nothing else. I am spotting errors in what is being taught by well meaning ministers on tv. I cringe inside when I hear it and pray for their enlightenment instead of exposing them. I yearn for God and His Spirit and power instead of lies or emotional manipulation of any kind. The truth is what I want and need and require and nothing else! It is a time of getting down to absolute basics and absolute truthfulness! And “if God does not build the house” it just ain’t going to get done is my viewpoint. So this is my comment on how my life is going now and others shall have their own thoughts too and it would be interesting to see if others are going thru similar things also? I have a hunch that they are but I am not totally certain of this so anyone else’s thoughts would be good here too…..

  6. Kate, I too find comfort most in time of prayer, worship and study of His Word. Cant help but think of Hebrews 10:16. These are the days and The Lord does it.

    • Yes and thanks be to Him who does it otherwise we would all be falling down continually! I’m so glad that I can trust in Him instead of myself.

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