Monday, August 13, 2007

The Workaround for Postmodernism

God's people face many challenges in living an incarnational lifestyle in today's world. Postmodernism presents us with challenges such as a belief that there are no absolutes. On the other hand, there is an unprecedented openness to spirituality.

In postmodernism, “The issue is the “imposition of one set of cultural ideas upon another.”[1] Oppressive ideologies are taboo. The answer is following Jesus’ example of love. “Through humility, love, and patience … preachers can take measures to dispel the concern of people who have witnessed atrocities and deceptions in the name of truth … and … God.”[2]

Christ reaching out to the marginalized with a “radical embrace,”[3] his inclusiveness, appeals to postmoderns. The universality of the gospel, for all would be a drawing factor.

Regarding metanarratives, “The gospel is not a metanarrative, an ideology imposed on people, but an intranarrative, a reality exposed in one people and one person—Christ.”[4] The collapse of metanarratives is good. The gospel “can represent clarity and stability in a culture adrift without an anchor.”[5] The desire for honesty and reality demands openness and vulnerability on the communicator’s part.

Stories are valued in postmodernism bringing openness to personal testimony. Listeners may not agree; but they will listen “because of the postmodern mentality of legitimizing each person’s view of reality.”[6] Stories “give purpose and shape to social existence.”[7]

Narrative preaching is most suited to postmoderns, as didactic preaching was for modern listeners, resembling personal story more than lecture.[8] The gospel should not be presented as a quick fix or cure all. That would serve as metanarrative, thus risking rejection.

Churches with lively worship are growing because others may “appear far too cerebral and removed from the real world.”[9] Postmoderns are open to faith, but dislike accountability, desire faith, but do not trust institutions, “crave community yet stress personal fulfillment in their lives.”[10] Johnston refers to this as “’have it your way’ spirituality.”[11] The faith must be experiential to be real for the postmodern, the onus being on us to demonstrate God’s love (1 Jn 4:7-8).

[1] Graham Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-First Century Listerners (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001), 107.

[2] Ibid., 108.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 109.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 110.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid. 111.

[9] Ibid.,120.

[10] Ibid., 121.

[11] Ibid.

The Bible. New International Version.

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