What is Modernism?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Deacon, Jun 21, 2003.

  1. Deacon

    Deacon
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    Last week I visited a nearby area of the county that I haven’t’ visited in quite a while. As I traveled through the town I passed quite a few Baptist Churches of various denominations. Every one of the church buildings I passed was 'old' (cheap 1950’ish church architecture) and quite run down. They looked like dying churches. I know I would not be attracted to them if I was an unbeliever looking for hope.

    Related to this is an interesting article posted by ScottEmerson in the Music Ministry Forum ( http://www.next-wave.org/aug02/paganfriendly.htm ) that had me questioning my particular denomination (Regular Baptist) and their stand against modernism. Perhaps I’m confused about what modernism is. Can anyone help me understand this denominational distinctive.

    And can a church attract today’s post-modern unbelievers using alternative music, looser standards of dress, high-tech sound systems and other “pagan” friendly concessions and still take a stand against “modernism”?

    Rob
     
  2. ScottEmerson

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    Modernism came about by a society who wanted to separate faith from the exploration of truth. THese philosophers argued in a varaiety of ways that Christianity could not be defended as historically true. Other facets of modernism include scientific evolution, Marxist socialism, psychologism, pragmatism, and existentialism. (Dockery, 2001 - He is the president of Union University). Most Baptists would be "premodern" - that is, they do not abide in the guidelines of modernism.

    Now, here is my definition of postmodernism. I've constructed it based upon my readings and my classes in the doctoral program at UF, which touts itself as offering a true "postmodern" method of teaching. Postmodernism at its core says that there is no real Truth. It takes modernism a leap forward. Each individual has his or her own world that defines his or her own reality. Since there is no absolute Truth, Christianity can be true for me but not true for you. There are many, many "proofs" that postmoderns offer for this theory, just as there were many proofs offered by scientists and philosophers in the modern tradition.

    People from the age of about 25 and younger fall under this postmodern age. They have been taught this in their universities, and increasingly in their public and private schools. They read about it on the internet and in many of their modern books and magazines. They see it on their television as relative morality. What is okay for me may not be okay for you and vice versa.

    This generation is also characterized by a strong need to build relationships. That drives much of what they do. They also tend to be able to multi-task exponentially more than the previous generation. ANyone who watches a teenager or young adult will be amazed by how many conversations a person using Instant Messenger can have at the same time, all the while while doing homework, eating a PopTart, and watching television at the same time.

    These are the people that we as Christians must reach. They believe strongly in the spiritual, but it is about as abstract as possible. As Christians, we must connect with these people. We must reach out to them and build bridges to them. We must meet them where they are, just as Christ did with the unseedy people of His day.

    That is why I like the article so much - it offers a clear position on what the role of the church should be in reaching out to the lost world, without diluting the Gospel message one iota.

    DOes that help?

    SEC
     
  3. Deacon

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    Thanks for your reply!

    While my church is a Regular Baptist denomination we are attempting to reach out to the post modern culture in very un-Regular ways.

    There are some congregations that will not associate with other churches that use these techniques to reach todays lost generations. I find this disheartening.

    Are there any resources that would be helpful in my own research into this topic?

    Rob
     
  4. ScottEmerson

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    Off hand, the website - http://www.next-wave.org/ - is devoted to church and the modern culture. THere are several different viewpoints, some of which I disagree with, but overall, it gives a good idea of what the "emerging church" will look like.

    SEC
     
  5. Bro. James Reed

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    Well, the Primitive Baptists rejected the modernism of the missionary baptists in the 1830's, so guess what we think now. :D

    Our very name shows that we are not into the modern arena. Anything and everything to keep the church as original as possible. It's only been this century when padded pews were brought into the churches.

    My church is one of those 50's style run down buildings and the Spirit is as much, if not more, alive there as He is in big fancy churches. The church is not supposed to look pleasing to the eye, or to the ear. It's supposed to be pleasing to the soul. The church is not in "business" to attract people...that is God's job.
     
  6. Squire Robertsson

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    "Modernism" as defined above is a heresy that developed in the late 19th century. Its proponents soon apostaized from orthodox Christianity. (Not however before capturing the core of the mainline Protestant denominations.) Therefore, it bears little or no relationship to the causes of division between me and my Primitive Baptist brethren. Though at the time (the 1830s), it was cast as a Primitive/Modernist controversy. The current common usage developed sixty some odd years later.
     
  7. Deacon

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    I've only started looking into what Modernism is and I came across this web site. http://www.pastortim.org/baptistbeacon/2002/modernism-rick-oliver.htm

    Looks like I'll be busy examining my beliefs for a while. There are some areas I see in myself where I fall into modernistic type philosophies (particullarly in the area of the physical sciences).

    Where's Massdac when you need him? :rolleyes:

    Rob
     
  8. Squire Robertsson

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    As a starting point, I suggest you get and read Francis Scheaffer's trilogy: Escape from Reason, The God Who is There, He is There and He is not Silent. Another classic work in a more systematic theology style is G. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism. Brother Francis's books are available in most any Christian book store.
     
  9. Jim1999

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    In 1925, Dr. T.T. Shields, pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church, and President of the Seminary, held up a document, outlining the liberal theology of the most liberalistic church in Canada. He said, "I have an old Ford car outdoors. It takes me somehere and it brings me back. This doctrine takes you nowhere, and leaves you there."

    With all the liberal theology put together, this is exactly what it does. It takes you nowhere, and leaves you there. All departure from the basics of theology, including the word of God, renders one a liberal, an heretic and a plague in Christendom.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     

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