This blog post by Scott Diekmann is Part 2 of a follow-up to his article, “Certainty in a World of Uncertainty,” which was published in the first issue of Around the Word.
I provided a list of words and phrases in the original article that are commonly seen in the writings of postmodern authors. Each body of thought has its own lingo, and when you see a bunch of these terms grouped together, you’re likely dealing with the lingo of a postmodern liberal thinker:
…incarnating the kingdom, social or environmental activism, uncertainty as a positive thing, redefining Christianity, the Bible as story or narrative, communal truth, God’s female attributes, spiritual disciplines, partnering with God, or multiple buzzwords like ancient, authentic, community, conversation, deconstruction, earth-keeping, imagination, incarnational, inclusivity, metanarrative, missional, reimagining, reinventing, or sustainability….
While some of these words are found in orthodox writings, when you find them flocking together, you can bet they’ve been baked into a social gospel casserole, with a focus on fixing the societal ills of the world, while ignoring our real problem, sin. For people who are familiar with postmodern theological literature, all of these phrases will immediately ring a bell. If a bunch of these same themes are recurring in what you’re reading, you’ll know to be careful to observe the context, and ask the question “What did he mean by that?” If you’re confused or get stuck somewhere, your pastor should be a helpful resource.
As always, Jesus remains the way, the truth, and the life. Our primary focus is on His salvific work on the cross. Certainly this doesn’t mean we ignore sanctification, good works, and spreading the Gospel, but rather that they occur in response to our having heard the Gospel preached, as we engage the world through our various vocations. Justification remains our material principle.
Questions or comments? Email me at email@example.com.
Here’s a list of some of the other terms used, along with their meanings:
- Incarnating the kingdom; the postmodern view – God’s kingdom is available here and now if we work to spread God’s message of inclusivity and social gospel. We are co-creators in the world. “….The good news was not that Jesus was to die on the cross to forgive sins but that God had returned and all were invited to participate with him in this new way of life, in this redemption of the world.” Eddie Gibbs & Ryan K. Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005) 54.
- Uncertainty; the postmodern view – There is no absolute truth, thus we can never be certain of anything. We’re all fellow travelers feeling our way towards truth. Consider instead Saint Luke’s words to his buddy Theophilus: “It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4 ESV).
- God’s female attributes – Salvation depends on knowing who God is. When you begin to distort who God is, bad things happen. This can be as seemingly simple as the gender-neutral NIV Bible or as heretical as goddess worship.
- Spiritual disciplines – These can be a good thing, such as fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. They can also be a bad thing, when people seek God in ways that he has not promised to be found, such as centering prayer.
- Authentic – Not necessarily a bad word. It generally refers to avoiding a fakey act to try and convert someone to Christianity – certainly something to avoid. It can also be used though as a straw man argument to denigrate orthodox doctrine.
- Deconstruction – “…The Bible is subjected to radical re-interpretation, often with little or no regard for the plain meaning of the text or the clear intention of the human author. Texts which are not pleasing to the postmodern mind are rejected as oppressive, patriarchal, heterosexist, homophobic, or deformed by some other political or ideological bias. The authority of the text is denied in the name of liberation, and the most fanciful and ridiculous interpretations are celebrated as ‘affirming’ and thus ‘authentic.’” Quoted from Dr. Albert Mohler – read this one!
- Imagination; the postmodern view – A quote from the book Reimagining Christianity by Alan Jones, p. 24: “When we begin to accept our inner plurality, we get less frightened of others who manifest a different tribal mix. Some of us feel that there is an emerging tribe–the global soul–that is able to see religion as a great work of the human imagination. Seeing it as a work of the imagination doesn’t make it any less true. Religion becomes a collective enterprise of cooperation between us and the unknown. Some of us identify the unknown with Spirit. Others leave it as the unknown. But we all participate in the same work of imagination.”
Read about lectio divina, a topic that sometimes causes debate in Lutheran circles, here.
Read about liturgical dance here.