Who can blame people for being wary of the postmodern mindset? To many of
us, postmodernism is an ideological failure, a way of life built on rocky
ground that soon will crumble. It often celebrates change for changes sake and
seems to be based on the maxim, If it feels good, do it.
But, lets take a higher view. First, lets thank God for the
ones who have turned to Christ, and then lets discover and duplicate the
approaches that worked for them. Second, lets admit that postmoderns are here
to stay. Their approach to life is not a fad that will fade away like last
years fashion. Theirs is a philosophy thats been developing and evolving for
Social historians date postmodernisms inception to the late 1960s and early
1970s when the first baby boomers came of age and questioned authority. And
those in leadership often left themselves wide open for distrust. A gap
developed that was chipped wider by people on both sides of the growing chasm.
We may not like it, but its there. Its a fact of life, and those of us who are
serious about evangelism need to spend more time understanding it than
complaining about it, so we can build an effective bridge.
By listening, Im not suggesting we agree with them. Far from it. Our truth
is based on the firm foundation of Gods gracious gift of salvation. I agree
with evangelist Junior Hill who tells about a new pastor in town who was
advised to avoid using the name of Jesus in order to offend fewer and reach
more. Junior said he would take the first plane away from a place where he was
told to appease a pagan mindset.
Third, lets remember theypostmodernsare not the
enemy. Satan is. Much of the rhetoric I hear implies that postmoderns are evil.
That kind of thinking divides people and labels on mission Christians
as unenlightened. Postmoderns are a mission field ripe for harvest. They are
searching for a truth that is solid.
Fourth, lets be frank: they are often us. As the comic
strip character Pogo famously said, We have met the enemy, and the enemy is
Evangelical researcher George Barna says 64 percent of Christians dont
believe truth is absolute; they believe it is relative. This confirms my
observation that too many of us are theoretical evangelicals but practical
relativists. We say one thing but do another. The thinking of the postmodern
world has spilled into our own.
Look at our marriages. Even those of us who have been grounded in Gods truth
and should know better often cave when we experience a shift in our emotions.
Radio host Janet Parshall tells of a pastors wife who emailed for advice,
saying her marriage was growing cold. The woman wrote: When I look to my
pastor, who is also my husband, and I know he doesnt love me like he used to, I
realize I cant grow spiritually under his leadership. Should I go to another
church? Im proud of Janets unwavering answer:
No, God wants your marriage restored.
I think of a pastor who told me of having an affair. When I asked him
ifwhile falling into the sinful relationshiphe recognized the warning signs,
heard the alarms going off in his conscience, he answered: Yes, but I decided
to disconnect the wires.
A pastor friend of mine and his wife spoke to some teenage girls about
dressing modestly, explaining that one reason was to help boys avoid
temptation. We were shocked by their response: If the boys minds stray, thats
their problem. These were Christian girls, but this was postmodern
Wouldnt it be great to reach out to postmoderns and convince them that
following Jesus is cool?
Bob Reccord is president of the North American Mission Board, SBC. His
latest book is Beneath the Surface: Steering Clear of Dangers that Could
Leave You Shipwrecked (Broadman and Holman 2002). He is the host of
the Baptist Hour which airs on more than 400 radio stations and at
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