“This is the postmodern desert inhabited by people who are, in effect, consuming themselves in the form of images and abstractions through which their desires, sense of identity, and memories are replicated and then sold back to them as products.”
I’ve noticed something lately … this planet is broken. This is not something new, perhaps just something I’m coming to realize more lately. A friend and I were talking this week about the broken planet. He said, “I don’t see much hope that things are going to change. I don’t think it’s going to get any better.”
For years I’ve heard leaders say the U.S. is moving toward post-modern Christianity, just like the Europeans (more about what post-modern Christianity is in a moment). Christian churches in Europe have experienced, and are continuing to experience, declining attendance – church buildings morphing from houses of worship into museums. It’s a discouraging thought for me. Growing up, the church was the center of our community. Its activities filled my family’s social calendar and its people taught us God’s truth and provided us with fellowship and spiritual support.
The Gallup organization recently reported, “Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s 80-year trend.” In the last 20 years, Protestant church membership has dropped 12.3%, while Catholic church membership has fallen by 23.7%. Gallup attributes this trend to a lack of religious affiliation in our country by a growing number of Americans.
Back to post-modern Christianity; what is it? Got Questions provides this summary:
It started in the 1950s in architecture as a reaction to modernist thought and style and was soon adopted by the art and literary world in the 1970s and 1980s. The Church didn’t really feel this effect until the 1990s. This reaction was a dissolution of “cold, hard fact” in favor of “warm, fuzzy subjectivity.”
Post-modern Christianity falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking. It is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward. Are these things good? Sure. Are these things bad? Sure. It all depends on how far from biblical truth each reaction against modernity takes one’s faith. This, of course, is up to each believer. However, when groups form under such thinking, theology and doctrine tend to lean more towards liberalism (progressivism).
For example, because experience is valued more highly than reason, truth becomes relative. This opens up all kinds of problems, as this lessens the standard that the Bible contains absolute truth, and even disqualifies biblical truth as being absolute in many cases. If the Bible is not our source for absolute truth, and personal experience is allowed to define and interpret what truth actually is, a saving faith in Jesus Christ is rendered meaningless. We don’t let our experiences interpret Scripture for us, but as we change and conform ourselves to Christ, we interpret our experiences according to Scripture. (Click here to read the full article.)
Gallup says church membership is down because of a lack of religious affiliation. If that’s true, what are we affiliating with? What “tribes” are we joining? Those that make us feel good? Those that value consumption over service? Have we abandoned facts for warm, fuzzy subjectivity? If truth becomes relative, what is truth?
Yes, the planet is broken, the good news is that it’s being redeemed. For my friend who doesn’t think things are going to get better, I have good news for him; things are going to get better. We have great hope. Things are moving to perfection. It won’t come from affiliating with the things of this world or choosing experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, or the outward over the inward. It will come from knowing the Creator God though His Son Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul provides these words of encouragement to us regarding hope for Planet Earth in Romans 8:18-25 (The Message)
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
There’s a lot in the Bible that I don’t understand, but it’s the same with my car. My lack of automotive knowledge doesn’t keep me from putting the key in it and driving it where I need to go. It’s the same with God’s Word. The things we don’t understand about God and His omniscience should not keep us from “putting the key in’ – opening the Bible and reading God’s “love letter” to us. If we do so, it will take us where we need to go – away from post-modernism and into absolute truth.