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Saturday, July 23, 2005

What am I doing here?

The history of my PoMo investigation.

A few months back I read an article that, in my opinion, called for a reaction to fear. While I have great respect for the author and concur with many of his observations he also called for Christians of all denominations, particularly Evangelicals and Catholics, to close ranks against the current “culture of death” while remaining independent in ecclesiology and theology. I am opposed to any unifying cause outside of the love of God and believe with all my heart that we should always react to love and never to fear. I offered my opinion on culture in general as it relates to the Gospel along with an admonishment to stand fast in our love. I fully expected to be confronted by my conservative brethren but was instead challenged by Matt and Gabe to consider the ideas put forth by those who welcome this cultural shift as a great opportunity for the Church at large. Having thoroughly read the blogs of both these men I am convinced of their love and devotion toward Jesus and the Gospel. This fact compelled me to try and gain some understanding of the ideology of Post-Modern culture and what I now know as the conversation it has spawned within many Evangelical Churches. I considered reading the leaders of this conversation but instead opted to first look for any “fruit” that might be produced as a result of this conversation. It seems to have spawned at least one movement I was able to identify as the “Emerging Church”. During my study of the Emerging Church I found several wonderful brethren, such as Neal, whose love and vision for the Church are inspiring. I was compelled to dwell on their devotions and found precious little to descent with in all they espoused. I then decided to move deeper into the conversation and read what the leaders of this movement had to say. This is where my investigation turned sour and I began to identify the problematic tendency of the Post-Modern philosophy. I found I was not alone in my observation and read of the struggles of men like Daniel who strive to add reason and have valid concerns with respect to this conversation. While my investigation may remain incomplete, my opinion is taking a much clearer form and I expect to soon offer my 90/10 perspective.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Gabe said...

KC,

Good thoughts as always. I appreciate the compliment towards my blog as well.

I share some your concerns with the "Emerging Church" coversation or movement. I tend like the term "Missional" -- meaning we are part of God's mission to redeem humankind, which is part of the Emerging conversation.

I also share, some of your concerns about postmodernism (i.e. the Post-Modern philsophy -- starting with Nietzche, Derrida, Focault, etc.) that denies any form of truth whatsover, and thus denies itself, giving way to nihlism.

However, it very hard to argue that culture in the west is not shifting (or has not already shifted) to a post(or after)-modern era -- whereby Reason, Absolute claims, institutional forms of authority, and science are now suspect, or least not held up as having all the answers. Something is going on, is my point.

The question we as disciples of Christ face is how do we respond? Certainly, I think it some ways our churches are a product of a modern, enlightment worldview -- whether they are liberal mainline churches, or conversavative evangelical churches. So in some ways we've already co-opted our theology.

So do we retreat to our safe modern churches and continue to plug away doing the same old thing the same old way, or do we try to understand post-modern culture and also understand how modernity in many ways corrupted the church (i.e. a higher view of head knowledge than wholistic spiritual formation or discipleship). I obviously choose the later -- even though it is messier.

Then, we must ask the question -- how do we survive in a post-modern culture where the civil relgion of Christianity has been disestablished, where being a Christian really affords one no social status and in fact is somewhat shunned. It's here where we learn from the Anabaptists and early church fathers, for we must be secterian, or develop our own meta-narrative in contrast to pluralistic culture around us -- which ultimately leads to where Christianity is an alternative lifestyle.

I think I wrote to much. :)

7/24/2005 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Gabe I hear you and I think you have more to say that needs not only saying but hearing as well. ;-)

7/24/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Neal W. said...

KC,

You've been doing some thinking while I've been gone, huh? I appreciate your thoughtfulness and agree with many of your concerns. But please don't assume a 1-to-1 correlation between postmodernism and the emerging church (Heck, emerging and emergent don't even mean the same thing anymore). I'm with Gabe here. Life in Christ is not found through any particular ideology or philosophy. But I sense that Emergent holds some hope for the church. And either way, it's where our culture is headed (if it's not already there), and we've got to learn to speak the language (and not just in order to convince people the language is wrong). You'd think me foolish to travel to Spain as a missionary without first learning Spanish, and I think it would be equally foolish to minister in a postmodern context without being being comfortable swimming in postmodern waters (mixing metaphors...very postmodern). Trying to convince postmodern cultures that a modern context is the "Christian" one is no more appropriate than telling Chinese Christians that American culture is the most Christian culture and that they should imitate that. Yes, the church is going to struggle mightily in the near future with pluralism and lack of truth, relativism, etc. But that will happen whether the emerging church is around to slap the blame on or not. It's simply going to happen. And the best expressions of the emerging church attempt to take the good from postmodernity while taking a stand for God, his Son, and his Word. God bless.

7/25/2005 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Welcome back Neal! I hope you had more wonderful experiences at camp.

The only correlation I’ve drawn between postmodernism and the Emerging Church so far is timing. I think others than myself force any other resemblance. It seems to me the issues that caused this “conversation” to develop and the cause of the cultural shift are very dissimilar and honestly I would like to see it stay that way. I am concerned that many at the academic level are attempting to tie them together. I can only suspect what purpose this might serve but one thing I am certain it does is create division among the brethren. Let me be clear, the division I see is not due to the conversation or to the idea of an Emerging Church, but to the acceptance by some of the spiritual and sensual aspects of postmodernism. I am equally concerned for those who accept the spiritual and sensual aspects of modernism. I intend to address context and philosophy in my 90/10 opinion post and as always I will appreciate your critique. I have tried to be very objective in my investigation and I am posting my findings each step of the way. I am not against any conversation or movement. I am for Jesus and all who are His. I am for the world that God loves so much and I am for the love we have for one another. That love that the world will know us by. I am persuaded to believe all of you are as well.

7/26/2005 10:38:00 AM  

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