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The Demise of Metanarrative and the Implications for Culture

Finally, our approaches to evangelism and apologetics will need to change if they are to be believable. Much of the foundation upon which our traditional approaches to evangelism and apologetics have been based are intimately intertwined with the metanarrative which has now disintegrated. The logical, sequential approach to evangelism found in presentations such as “The Roman Road” or “The Four Spiritual Laws” will be increasingly less compelling in the changed environment. They assume a common base established by a metanarrative which is no longer in place. The same is true for our attempts at apologetics. Logical argumentation and rational proof will be like water on the proverbial duck’s back. It just will not work. Many Christians are currently wringing their hands over this when, all the while, nothing has really change from Jesus’ words about the convicting power of our love and unity (John 13:34-35; 17:21). Philip Kenneson pointedly states this when he says,

My hunch is that when the church begins to embody its testimony to the world, when it begins to embody the character of this particular God known in Jesus Christ, when our neighbors see the Spirit alive in our common life and when our neighbors begin to ask about the hope we have, only then will the church have something to say.11

Evangelism and apologetics in the postmodern era will have to be based on relationship and personal credibility, and, after all, isn’t that really what God did when He chose to become flesh and dwell among us?





1 Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1984), p. xxiv, in J. Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh, Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1995), p. 70.

2 Diogenes Allen, Christian Belief in a Postmodern World: The Full Wealth of Conviction (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989), p. 2.

3 William Hasker, Metaphysics: Constructing a World View (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1983), pp. 13-16.

4 Robert E. Webber, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), p. 84.


6 James W. Fowler, Faithful Change: The Personal and Public Challenges of Postmodern Life (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), p. 14.

7 Peter F. Druker, The Practice of Management (New York: Harper and Row, 1954), in Warren G. Bennis, Organization Development: Its Nature, Origins and Prospects (Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1969), p. 1.

8 Middleton and Walsh, p. 29.

9 Think of Star Trek and its various sequels to imagine a new metanarrative.

10 See Schaeffer’s three works, The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason and He Is There and He Is Not Silent.

11 Philip W. Kenneson, “There’s No Such Thing As Objective Truth, and It’s a Good Thing, Too,” in Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, ed. Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1995), pp. 169-170.


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2017

About the Author: John K. Crupper, M.Div. (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) and D.Min. (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), serves as a Project Manager with Our Daily Bread Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Following seminary, he pastored local churches in North Carolina, Virginia, and Illinois. Much of his career has been spent working on the strategic priority of ministry with children. He served key roles with Awana Clubs International where he provided significant leadership for the 4-14 Forum. He served as the first National Director for Shepherding the Next Generation, an evangelical nonprofit advocating for at-risk children. Later he provided leadership for key projects for Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree ministry. John's current area of interest and ministry focus is spiritual formation in the "third third" of life and end of life.

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