St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Tuesday, December 16, 2003 ::

The Baby, the Bathwater and Hubris: The Future of Postmodern Theology

David Mills writes an interesting post at Touchstone's blog about the PoMo movement. This first point is classic:

"I�ve read some [PoMo's] writing on worship as if they had invented the idea of silence. And chanting. And candles...."

Mills goes on to make a point I've made in the past, but that doesn't usually go over very well. He writes,

"[Postmodern Christian] worship adopts lots of traditional objects and methods, like candles and chanted prayers, but in a liturgy or �worship experience� of their own devising. They aren�t interested in adopting the classic orders of the Western and Eastern liturgies, of submitting themselves to ancient and highly developed traditions. This seems to me unwise."

"I think the [postmodern Christians] offer much to think about, but [I] ask them to please remember not only the baby in the bath, but that the bath itself was developed for a very good reason and refined over time into an instrument very hard to replace with any lasting success."

Kevin Miller, whose rant on PoMoism ealier this year drew much discussion, notes one of the dangers of trying to rebuild the theological "bath":

"In order to avoid the hubris that often comes from the evangelical church, many folks are now getting squishy on things they should not be squishy about, including the authority of Scripture, the uniqueness of Christ, and the value of the Bible�s sexual ethic. If we lose those, we lose the Gospel."

This reminded me of the points made in this post on the proper place of hubris in the Christian life.

It also echoes comments recently made by Clifton over at Justin's blog about the dangers of PoMo theology, especially as it relates to missions and its future. Clifton writes something I totally agree with:

"I am much more sympathetic to postmodern modes of thinking than I am to their predecessor, but I am less than sanguine about the modern evangelical embrace of it--even in missional terms." Clifton continues with this great question:

"Such an embrace in the liberal mainline churches have given us the untethered and unaccountable actions of the Episcopal Church. What will emerge among evangelicals when their embrace of postmodernism turns to into an embrace from which they can no longer extricate themselves?"

Chris, in this great post and discussion, wonders "if we push "relevancy" too much and define it too broadly."

"Paul's message at Mars Hill was relevant, but are we reading more into the text so as to give ourselves "permission" for more sweeping changes?..."

I suppose that defining our relationship to culture does have a bearing on this topic. Jesus seemed very comfortable moving around within the culture of his day -- but it didn't hinder him from carrying out the work of the kingdom. I suppose, in part, this is the corrective that Church needs today (in places, that is) -- perhaps we've placed FAR too much stock in cultural relevancy, and have subsequently neglected our pursuit of Christ."

As I wrote in the comments at Chris' blog, we'll be a lot more relevant if we stop focusing on trying to be relevant and are just faithful with what we have been given in the Church (ala 2 Thess. 2:15). What are your thoughts--especially in regards to Clifton's question?

:: Karl :: 7:55:00 AM [Link] ::

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