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Retro Faith: A Christian Response to Postmodernism

 

Editor Introduction: Postmodernism, The Church, and The Future

 

Bob Dylan wrote a song in the 1960’s entitled “The Times They are A-Changin” that describes the changing times that we now live in. Change is all around us. There is rapid development and technology such as the world has never seen before. In the past 100 years we have learned how to fly, we have traveled to outer space, we have invented weapons of mass destruction, and we have witnessed the age of computer technology. As a result, we live in an age of revolutionary change.

Postmodernism, The Church, and The Future
A Pneuma Review discussion about how the church should respond to postmodernism

In the midst of these rapid changes, the old world of modernity is crumbling around us and a new world is emerging. Futurists, theologians, and philosophers call this new world “postmodernism.” What we are experiencing is a major paradigm shift from modernity to postmodernism. The tremendous paradigm shift that we are witnessing can be compared to previous time periods such as the reformation or the age of reason. In his book Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture, Leonard Sweet writes, “The seismic events that have happened in the aftermath of the postmodern earthquake have generated tidal waves that have created a whole new world out there.”1

There is no shortage of spirituality in our postmodern world. The postmodern world that we live in is a very spiritual place where people are looking for a spirituality that is real and relevant; a spirituality that is not dead and outdated. Many people in North America are actively seeking spirituality outside of the church by looking to alternative religions. Buddhism and other eastern religions are experiencing explosive growth in North America and around the world. In the marketplace of consumer spirituality, individuals are not choosing one religion over the other, rather they are weaving together their own patchwork spirituality.

The sad fact is that the church is one of the last places that people look for authentic spirituality. Most people say that church is boring, irrelevant, dry, complicated, even domesticated. How did this happen? Was it always this way? Part of the problem stems from the fact that many churches are still functioning the same way they were in the 1940’s. At the turn of the century the church became more rational than relational, more organizational than organic, more political than prayerful, and more structural than spiritual. Today, many of the churches in North America are anything but spiritual.

Author Brian D. McLaren declares, “If you have a new world, you need a new church, you have a new world.”2 The changes of postmodern world are real, but the church has been slow to address it. The church is one of the last institutions to acknowledge and engage the new world of postmodernism. Many churches have chosen to respond to the changes in our culture with apathy and denial.

 

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2007

About the Author: The Rev. Dr. Winfield H. Bevins serves as the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. He is also the Canon for Church Planting for the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas and an adjunct professor at Trinity School for Ministry. He is the author of Plant: A Sower’s Guide to Church Planting (Seedbed, 2016), Rediscovering John Wesley (Pathway Press, 2005), Our Common Prayer: A Field Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (Simeon Press, 2013), Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of Historic Christian Faith (NavPress, 2011), and Grow at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Family Discipleship (Seedbed, 2016). WinfieldBevins.com Amazon Author Page Facebook Twitter: @winfieldbevins

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