PostModernChristianity /Thoughts?

Here's an article that I'd like some feedback on. It's from a fellow Youthworker about Christianity and the modern culture and the traditional methods Christian youth workers use w/Youth.

Some excerpts from the article, but I'd like you to read the whole thing if possible.

"You're ministering to the first post-Christian generation in American history--and there are plenty of paradoxes. On one hand "spirituality" is at a high point; there's never been a day in the Western world where you find surveys--like one MTV recently conducted--that say 99.4% of young people believe in God. On the other hand, even with the peak of spirituality, Christianity is at the bottom of the list.

The teenage world is changing so quickly that we can no longer simply talk about youth culture--we must talk about youth cultures. We can no longer talk about a tribe of young people--we must talk about tribes of young people.

We're not returning to a modern world with its rational, cognitive, scientific, evidentialist, imperialistic understanding of reality. Rather the world is quickly reinventing itself as a global culture with multicultural and technological contexts, and defined by artistic, mystical, and supernatural orientations. It represents, in effect, a second reformation for the church."

" 1. "Garbage In-Garbage Out." Many of us learned early on about "garbage in-garbage out." You know--whatever you think, you become. The garbage in-garbage out philosophy assumes that the brain is a sponge that will buy into whatever it's given.

Let's look at the prophet Daniel in this context. He's a teenager (like a good number of Old Testament prophets) who's taken from Israel where everyone knows God, and is placed in Babylon--the most pagan context known to man. There Daniel goes to school and is taught sorcery, cultism, and magic. According to the Bible, Daniel becomes far more adept at these practices than even the people who've taught him. So, if garbage in-garbage out is true--if we become whatever we're exposed to--Daniel would have to have become a pagan priest, right? Right. But he doesn't.

Despite the wicked practices Daniel learns, he is able to discern truth in the midst of his cultural context. He makes hard choices: "They want me to eat food God said not to eat--I'm not going to eat it. They want me to bow down, I won't. They want me to stop praying, I won't." Daniel is placed in a situation no youth workers want their students exposed to, but he learns to walk a fine line--and succeeds.

That's the same missionary tightrope upon which we all must tread in the postmodern culture--and we must train our students to walk on it, too."


"6. Western Christianity. Inhabitants of the Western world are very individualistic, very consumeristic, very rugged, and very entrepreneurial. Much of what we believe is founded on Western thinking and informed by Greek ideals and the history that's been given to us since Descartes. Therefore those who've come to Christ in a Western context will have a difficult time relating to Christ outside of that context.

For example, when we do missions, we don't only import the gospel--we also bring Western values, music, clothing, and culture. And we slam it into the second and third worlds because we believe that our Western way of life is Christianity. A phenomenal arrogance has crept in, to the point where some modern Christians are declaring that, "You can't critique anything we say or do because we are the people of the truth."

Here's one scenario:

Youth workers rarely touch the Song of Solomon--because we're Western and we don't know what to do with passion. It just freaks us out. So we intentionally avoid certain difficult Scriptures and instead turn to topical and therapeutic preaching--things like "Five Points to a Better Self-Esteem," "How to Empower the Individual," "How to Make More Money," on down the line.

But the postmodern kid comes along and says, "No, no, no. Let's do narrative. Let's do whole life. Let's do honesty. Let's open the Bible."

It's here that a postmodern world view violates some Western cultural values that have crept into the rule book of modern Christianity. What happens next is that modern-oriented Christians often will fight against this critique--thinking they're defending the faith--when, in fact, they're just defending cultural values."

Read the article and post your immediate, gut reaction thoughts.


Well, the article sounds arrogant itself, labeling "Western" what indeed belongs to USA´s culture.

About the "Garbage In-Garbage Out", that is plain naive.

Most psychologists and neuroscientists today know that human beings are not "tabula rasa", we are not born empty and then we are fulfilled with other people´s ideas.

There are different levels of education, on different ages, and different types of intelligences.

The weight that american educators put in behaviourism is huge, and it may have lead to the consequences you´ve posted above.

But behaviourism is not used everywhere on the Western countries, therefore other countries don´t educate their children the same way that USA do, and their citizens are rised differently, with different values.

I have been involved in the post modern Christian discussion for many years now. I think there is much good thought behind it.

But not a lot of good practice unfortunately

the rev

Check out a good book by Brian McLaren called " a new kind of christian"

it specifically deals with this topic, very quick read.

Josh, I did read "A new kind of Christian," the book about a burned out pastor and his new found friend Neo. Neo being the post modern, but the book left me with mixed reactions. On one hand I felt that there were definitely some positives to be gleaned from Neo's perspective but I also felt a bit uncomfortable with some stuff also. Perhaps the uneasiness can be attributed to my traditional upbringing or Western influences. I guess I'm just wondering if the whole "post modern" agenda, if there is such an agenda, is to abandon the traditional model of how we do church or to rather revive how the church was supposed to be live, or simply to awaken the church to the current culture.

And I remain,


Oh, and I agree w/the Rev's comments about there isn't a lot of good practice, which IMHO is why it's hard to quantify what it looks like.

Donna, thanks for the response, but I think you missed the point of the article.


Well, quite so... I was distracted by the arrogance of the writer...

Spiritists put a heavy weight on material and moral charity, and we are many here in Brazil. We are doing our best to put Christ spirit in practice, without imposing it to anyone.