Post-evangelicalism

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Matt Black, Dec 23, 2004.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Article #1
    Article #2

    Doubtless further articles can be found if people wish. Questions for discussion:-

    1. Is this a trend to be feared or a valid faith response to the present age?

    2. Is it just another manifestation of post-modernity?

    3. How is it similar to neo-orthodoxy?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt

    [ December 23, 2004, 05:22 AM: Message edited by: Matt Black ]
     
  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Try again with article #2 ! Sorry!

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  3. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    A good book review on the subject is here

    I'm also curious as to what extent this is a British Church phenomenon - does it even exist in the US?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  4. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is also an issue in the U.S., though I'm not sure if the term, "post-evangelical" is being used. What I usually hear is "the postmodern church" or "postmodern Christianity" (usually just "Pomo" for short).

    I read through the links, though I mainly skimmed most of Article #2. I wasn't quite clear on what he was saying as he seemed somewhat self-contradictory but I would need to read it again when I have time.

    This statement on the 3rd link about the book by Tomlison disturbs me:
    The use of the terms "nit-picking" and "rigid" is an ad hominem and is a way to mischaracterize those who do believe in biblical inerrancy as all being nit-pickers and being rigid. I find these type of tactics common among those touting Pomo Christianity. There seems also to be a clear undermining of the Bible in Pomo Christianity.

    One of the main voices in the U.S. promoting Pomo Christianity is Brian McLaren, who has written a few books, the most controversial being A New Kind of Christian. I have read The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball (a book endorsed by McLaren) but not McLaren's book. I have read, however, a detailed and lengthy critique of it as well as a shorter piece reviewing and critiquing the book by Douglas Groothuis(link is below in the next post to this review).
     
  5. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    The review of Tomlinson's book, which you posted, also says this:
    This trend is here as well. It is one thing to assess the culture and re-assess ways to reach that culture, and it's another to change the message of the gospel in order to reach it, which is what is happening. In fact, some Pomo chr. adherents are even asking, "What is the gospel" and "Do we really know what it is?"

    Another result of this is that an attitude is being adopted that more experiential stuff is not only needed but becomes a main point, so actual New Age techniques of mediation are being introduced in some cases as "prayer." I am writing an article on this now and have too much to say so will stop here.

    Whenever experiences are sought, experience tends to take over as primary, especially over anything written. This happens in New Age, Wicca, and it can happen in the church. Christians are not immune to the pull of sensual experience, and I guarantee that when that is highlighted and sought after, it makes the written word seem dull and old. I think this has happened among certain charismatic circles as well (the more extreme groups that actually say the Bible is outdated).

    God can give one an experience (such as feeling strongly the presences of God or the HS) but it is God who initiates. When we as man try to initiate experiences we get into trouble. There is no Biblical support for us intiating spiritual experience in the sensual aspect of the term. But once that happens, then not finding biblical support will not matter since the experience will be valued over the written word. This is the problem with mysticism (which I do not think is biblical but is universal, because it goes on relativity and subjectivity and not truth).
     
  6. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    Part 3 of Post:
    This is why God gave us his special revelation in words -- the Bible. When we start to depend on imagination, experience, or subjective feelings, then all is lost. (I am not discounting those things but they cannot be primary nor can they be the measures of truth).

    Here are links on some responses to this:
    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/postmodernism.html

    A response by J P Moreland, delivered to the ETS:
    http://www.str.org/free/points/truth.htm
    Excerpt:
    He goes on to show the issues re objective truth, being able to know truth, etc., things which the pomo Christians are challenging.

    The problem is that the Pomo Christians, in trying to reach a Pomo culture, are throwing out essential truths. It is fine to discard unnecessary cultural things that get in the way of the gospel, but not the gospel itself, which is proclaimed solely in God's word, another essential that is being swept aside, albeit subtly and slowly, in the Pomo movement.

    Douglas Groothuis' critique of McLaren's book (alluded to above):
    http://www.equip.org/free/DP808.htm

    Resources on Postmodernism
    http://www.countercult.com/p02.html
     
  7. Deacon

    Deacon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Messages:
    6,972
    Likes Received:
    129
    Hey, I’m stepping in deep waters here, deeper than I may be properly educated in.

    I agree with Marcia's assessment. There are parts of the article I can agree with, but many others parts I can’t.

    Evangelicalism places an emphasis on the need for spiritual rebirth and a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Here in the U.S. the term “Evangelical” has been applied to those who believe in common fundamentals within the Protestant community of faith. Apparently post-evangelicalism embraces this too.

    Today’s Christians make doctrinal and ethical decisions with a knowledge base that is far more diverse and varied than those of just a generation ago. How has Evangelicalism responded to this knowledge? It seems that Evangelicals have become entrenched in institutions and customs and have failed to respond in ways that successful reach today’s modern individual.

    The rise of post-modernism has left the individual with a fragmented world-view: they are left to stand amid conflicting beliefs and pressured to fit in. It is quite common for the average person to hold two (or more) divergent beliefs.

    Do we adapt our biblical worldview to embrace the Christ-less world around us or do we entrench ourselves in biblical propaganda, linguistic churchese and entrenched church sub-cultures.

    Arguments about what we wear, what we eat or drink, and the type of Bible we read, can be antithetical to authentic Christianity. We can see this on the BB. We often present a poor case for Christ to the unsaved world around us.

    Rob
     
  8. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    666
    Likes Received:
    0
    I skimmed Articles 1 & 2 and there's much jibberish and contradiction, it seems.

    Just off the top, without research, this looks like just another vehicle that is being provided for the falling away from the truth, with its inevitable movement toward apostasy and world ecumenism.

    "Intellectuals" have always had a tendency to 'worship' human intelligence and this tendency (rampant in our public schools) is prominent in today's society due to the explosion of 20th century knowledge and the numerous philosophies that evolved alongside of it. Often, the thought process that results from that tendency questions the simple Truth and, especially, the inerrancy and infallibilty of the Holy Scriptures. From there, everything is wide open to human, intellectual critique and its unlimited smorgasboard of ideas.

    For example, if you wanted to apply Christianity to modern society, it would seem logical, practical, and pragmatic to create methods and/or systems that would conform to present day humanity and its culture, as opposed to the most difficult idea of persuading that humanity to conform to the rigid, absolute, message of the scriptures. To simply accept the gospel as presented in the Word, and be separate and obedient to it, seems simpleton in modern society, "foolishness", as it were. I'm always reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to the simple." Once the thinker has successfully cracked the foundation of God's Word, it is only a matter of time before its truth is deserted.

    An outstanding, and present day, example of this type of intellectual error, and its inevitable result, is the apostasy of Dr. Clark Pinnock, discussed just today in several posts, here.

    To me, the sad culmination of one of the great ironies of all time, will be the day the curious thinker, blessed with superior intellect and mental acuity, becomes aware that he stared directly into the bottomless well of living Truth, with its infinite depth and glorious secrets, and failed to recognize it.
     
  9. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good post, Ivy Leaguer! [​IMG]

    Deacon, you said:
    Is this not a false dichotomy? While agreeing with you that imposing legalisms on people is blurring and hiding the message of the gospel, I don't think our only choices lie in what you stated above. If I am misunderstanding what you are saying, sorry!

    Additional remarks (not necessarily in response to Deacon)
    We can listen to the culture and learn what is being said and address those issues without compromising the gospel. Unfortunately, what seems to be happening in Pomo Christianity is that they are adpating the gospel to the culture and looking for cues in the culture, instead of being led by God's word.

    If we are to be salt and light, then we cannot let that salt lose its flavor, which I think is happening (in many ways). Doesn't salt have a bite to it, a little sting? So does the truth. But Pomo Christians seems to want to offer only sugar so no one gets offended or upset.
     
  10. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Whilst there are things which concern me about post-evangelicalism, it does in some facets address some of the shortcomings of the evangelical movement particularly with regard to the interpretation of Scripture (note: this does NOT mean 'discarding' the Bible, rather, to my mind, it means interpreting it more faithfully - see my posts on the inerrancy thread).

    Furthermore, I don't think it's fair to say that post-evangelicalism goes the whole PoMo hog in abandoning the concept of absolute empirical truth, as alleged. Rather, it affirms the concept of absolute truth but abandons the modernist evangelical mindset that insists that that (infinite) truth be empirically known (by finite beings); in so doing, I believe post-evangelicals are behaving in a more intellectually honest manner and reintroducing the valuable pre-modern concept of mystery into theology.

    No-one's answered my Q re neo-orthodoxy - any takers?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  11. Deacon

    Deacon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Messages:
    6,972
    Likes Received:
    129
    What is the purpose of the church? In general it is to evangelize and disciple new believers. Because of this the Evangelical movement will never grow old; its definition is our mission. It is the methods and means of communicating that goal that become old. Post-Evan. is a response to a need. Needs will change…. There's more than one way to skin a cat. There ARE some aspects of new-age christianity that we can exercise in (and around) the restrictive culture of our churches.

    I do believe that this is a temporary fix to the problems of society and culture. To properly educate a growing believer one needs to disciple an individual and bring them into a community of faith.


    On another note: I was interested in the examination of interpretation. My remark about church subcultures was drawn from this quote in article 2.

    Interesting…. very interesting….

    Just when as Paul spoke to the Athenians on Mars hill using language and culture that they understood, we should be able to learn, adapt and cultivate a message that is understandable to those that we are trying to reach. We can do this without “loosing our savor” if we keep our eyes on the goal of making disciples for Christ.

    Rob
     
  12. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    There are different strands in Pomo Christianity (or Post-evangelicism). Some of those strands paint with too broad a brush and denounce pretty much all evangelicals as "modern" and therefore out of step. But part of modernity is a belief in absolute truth and absolute right and wrong, which is upheld by God's word. Once that is abandoned, then you lose the effectiveness of the Gospel and God's word. As far as I am concerned, if there is no absolute truth, then you might as well burn your Bible.

    From what I see here in the U.S., most of Pomo Christianity is undermining the Bible in favor of the experiential. While finite man cannot totally know the infinite God, God has revealed Himself through His word and through Christ. Jesus said if we know Him, we know the Father; 1 John states that if we have the Son, we have the Father.

    The trends toward mysticism that I see are very disturbing and there is no biblical support for them. The Pomos are getting it mostly from Catholicism, but they are changing the word Catholic to Christian, as in "Christian" tradition. But what they are really drawing on is Catholic tradition. Theresa of Avila supposedly practiced bilocation. This is of God? I don't think so.

    They are also getting it from Catholics who got it from Buddhists (such as Thomas Merton). This is the area I am presently researching, but have been aware of for quite a while, even when I was a New Ager.

    Merton's books are sold on New Age sites because much of what he says seems, at least, to be compatible with some New Age thinking, at least in their eyes. This is also true for a lot of other Catholic mystics. Many Christians do not realize that this type of Catholic mysticism is very compatible with New Age thinking and practices. Deceit usually comes in the form of something that seems spiritual and good and from God (2 Cor 11.14). It does not appear evil.

    And how does one introduce "mystery" into theology? I think any techniques designed for this are coming from man, not God. It is one thing to have lights off and candles burning in worship (and I have no problem with that), but it's another to introduce techniques that induce self-hypnotic trances. These are not ways to be in touch with God. Additionally, we go by faith, not feeling. If there is any feeling, it should be intitiated by God, not us.
     
  13. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    Paul's Mars Hill speech was not that accommodating. Many scholars believe he was being sarcastic or actually putting them down.

     
  14. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    Also,
    I totally believe in taking the culture into consideration when we plan to present the gospel, or even just engage people in a dialogue. If I didn't believe this, I could not operate in my ministry where I talk to Wiccans, New Agers, Satanists, ritual magicians, and others. You cannot say, "You need to be saved from you sin" when they don't even believe in sin (or in absolute truth).

    [And, btw, I prefer liturgical worship such as is found in the Episcopal church, so I have no problem with this (a return to liturgical worship is part of the Pomo Christian movement). It is other things that alarm me.]

    However, the Pomos who are writing books are going beyond that, for the most part. They are not just adapting the way to reach the culture, they are adpating the message itself. As I said earlier, they are questioning even what the gospel is. One of the ministers of a large Pomo church here the U.S. has said that we may not even know what the gospel is! He has gradually moved from reaching the Pomo unbelievers to adapting ways of worship to appeal to them to now questioning what the gospel is.

    A large Christian youth organization now is pushing pomo philosophy in the form of online articles that advocate breathing techniques in order to pray (and other practices). A link in one of these articles was to a New Age site. The author told me himself that he linked to this site because he could not find a Christian site advocating these things. Well, no wonder, I told him, this is NOT a Christian or abiblical practice!

    Reaching the Pomo culture is one thing; becoming Pomo in order to reach them is a rejection of truth, a truth revealed by God and a truth made precious by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
     
  15. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just found this in my Word files. Since Matt posted an article on a book by Tomlison, this article by Al Mohler on Tomlison might be of interest.

    Another point: Pomo Christians (which I think is an oxymoron) believe that Jesus did not offer propositional truth, just stories. However, in just a few minutes, I can find plenty of propositional truths stated by Jesus. If we just have stories and symbols, why not be Hindu, Wiccan, or Buddhist? They can match and overmatch this by a mile.
     
  16. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am not an expert on neo-orthodoxy, but from what I what I know about it, I would say that Pomo Christianity resembles it in the way it is undermining the truth of God's word, and the concept of absolute truth.

    Here are some Neo-orthodox views of the Bible (more are listed and are contrasted with the Biblical Statement on Inerrancy):
    This is similar to the Pomo view of seeing the Bible as symbolic or revealing a "symbolic" truth but not historical or actual truth. Pomo Chr. may just be a subset or outgrowth of Neo-Orthodoxy.

    In fact, I've seen a lot of these Neo-orthodox views espoused and argued on the BB.
     
  17. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    <Part 2>
    [The point above about human language is also made by Zen Buddhists: words cannot convey truth. I used this all the time as a New Ager who was into Zen Buddhism - it's a convenient way to deny any expression of truth you don't like, and to deny absolute truth. Of course, it's self-refuting].

    Also
     
  18. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Plenty of examples in Church History of mysticism. Whilst agreeing with you that we should reject that which is sourced in New Age and Buddhism etc, I do not think it is wise to dismiss the contemplative way of prayer as being 'Catholic' and thus somehow not 'Christian'; for the first 1500 years of Church History there was no other form of Christianity (apart from Orthodoxy which has a very similar contemplative tradition)

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  19. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Messages:
    666
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exactly, and it's happening right now in the orthodox church, all across the board, on any number of fronts. The church is in great danger, IMHO. The best (meaning most deceptive) single example I know of this is Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life.

    Well said. Amen! [​IMG]


    I know little about New Age but this is happening all over the world in the so called 'church'. Examples I know of in North America are the Revival Movement, Dominionism (Restoration), Word of Faith, and the New Apostolic Reformation, to name a few. And as big as all that is here (for example, the Trinity Broadcasting Network is a multi-billion dollar enterprise), it's bigger in Britain and other places around the world.

    I couldn't agree more.

    Here are some interesting thoughts I found written by Massimiliano Lorenzini (emphasis mine):

    "Postmodern thought is a rejection of absolute, objective truth. Today's church needs polemics to resist the influence of postmodernism which undermines the gospel and the authority of Scripture" ......... "Postmodern thought, governed by pragmatism and existentialism, addresses how language functions to construct meaning itself" ......... "Ultimately there are only two possible positions: independence from God or dependence upon God; autonomous use of reason or biblical reasoning that is under submission to the Lordship of Christ" ......... "Fallen man's most ultimate epistemological commitment is not to logic and science but to his belief in the lie of Satan - that man can be as God in the sense of being his own ultimate authority and do so successfully" ......... "Since there can be only one truly ultimate authority, the most ultimate authority cannot be both the Word of God and the word of man" ......... and finally .........

    "Every thought contrary to Christianity which the unbeliever has results from his desire to set himself up as the independent judge of truth."
     
  20. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
     

Share This Page

Loading...