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THE DELIGHTFUL CHALLENGE TO CHRISTIANS OF POSTMODERNITY Wisconsin Pathfinder Leadershop John Matthews, Professor of Religious Education & Educational.

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Presentation on theme: "THE DELIGHTFUL CHALLENGE TO CHRISTIANS OF POSTMODERNITY Wisconsin Pathfinder Leadershop John Matthews, Professor of Religious Education & Educational."— Presentation transcript:

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2 THE DELIGHTFUL CHALLENGE TO CHRISTIANS OF POSTMODERNITY Wisconsin Pathfinder Leadershop John Matthews, Professor of Religious Education & Educational Foundations Andrews University School of Education & Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

3 Ellen White on Philosophy “Those who are uneducated, untrained, and unrefined are not prepared to enter a field in which the powerful influences of talent and education combat the truths of God’s word. Neither can they successfully meet the strange forms of error, religious and philosophical combined, to expose which requires a knowledge of scientific [ideological] as well as Scriptural truth.” Ellen G. White, 5T: 390

4 Ellen White on Ideology “We would that there were strong young men [& women], rooted and grounded in the faith, who... could... enter the higher colleges in our land, where they would have a wider field for study.... Association with different classes of minds... would be of great value to such workers, preparing them... to meet the prevailing errors of our time.” Ellen G. White, 5T: 583

5 Worldview: Christian Theism Photo by Bobi Kuzmanoski Comet 17/P Holmes; Location: Skopje, Macedonia

6 Worldview: Postmodernism – Is there a box ? Photo by Bobi Kuzmanoski Comet 17/P Holmes; Location: Skopje, Macedonia

7 Worldview: Postmodernism – In Overview Incredulity toward metanarratives All language is a power play There are no absolutes: reality, truth, & value are lost in the mist Stories of the marginalized are to be celebrated (community) What remains? Personal meaning defined by personal story

8 Worldview: Postmodernism – Is there a box ? Photo by Bobi Kuzmanoski Comet 17/P Holmes; Location: Skopje, Macedonia

9 Engagement Strategy 1. Know your story, as a lived experience; as an experiential knowledge of God 2. Know the strengths & challenges of the story of your friends with whom you wish to engage, so you may diaglogue about their story, exploring its challenges 3. “Capture” your friends, retelling the story, to show how the challenges of their story are met by the strengths of your story (God’s salvation story in your life) Curtis Chang, Engaging Unbelief

10 Postmodern Pluralism Religious pluralism... is the belief that the differences between the religions are not a matter of truth and falsehood, but of different perceptions of the one truth; that to speak of religious beliefs as true or false is inadmissible.... Each of us is entitled to have... a faith of our own. Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 14.

11 Construction of Society Society is a dialectic phenomenon in that it is a human product... that... continuously acts back upon its producer. Society is a product of man.... Yet it may also be stated that man is a product of society. Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 3.

12 Construction of Society Humans produce society Society develops a culture Culture shapes humans

13 Maintenance of Society Every society depends for its coherence upon a set of... “plausibility structures,” patterns of belief and practice... which determine which beliefs are plausible to its members and which are not. These... structures are... different at different times and places. Thus when, in any society, a belief is held to be “reasonable,” this is a judgment made on the basis of the reigning plausibility structure. Newbigin, 8.

14 Maintenance of Society When an entire society serves as the plausibility structure for a religiously legitimated world, all the important social processes within it serve to confirm and reconfirm the reality of this world. Berger, 48.

15 The Sacred Canopy

16 Decay of Social Structures Since every religious world is “based” on a plausibility structure that is itself the product of human activity, every religious world is inherently precarious in its reality. In other words, “conversion” (that is, individual “transference” into another world) is always possible in principle. This possibility increases with the degree of instability or discontinuity of the plausibility structure in question. Berger, 50.

17 The Sacred Canopy is Broken Decay of Social Structures

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19 Decay of Societal Structure Berger points out how this new universal nonspecific social form of religion challenges Christianity: Such private religiosity, however “real” it may be to the individuals who adopt it, cannot any longer fulfill the classical task of religion, that of constructing a common world within which all of social life receives ultimate meaning binding on everybody. Berger, 134.

20 Nietzsche on God God is Dead! We have killed him! Oh, how I wish that it were not so. Friedrich Nietzsche

21 Nietzsche on Truth What is truth? said jesting Pilate.... If he had stayed, what answer would he have received? There cannot be any doubt: Jesus would have said: I am the truth. This too is Zarathustra’s answer to... ‘what is truth?’ For what... is truth, ‘the truth’? Isn’t it the discovery that no truth is discoverable expect the truth which you yourself are? Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra trans. R. J. Hollingdale

22 Postmodernity Disaster?Opportunity?

23 The Delightful Challenge The Christian CANNOT rely on: Society: Society is no longer essentially Christian in ideology, nor even in outward form The institutionalized Church and its truth metanarrative: Metanarratives are rejected, and institutions are viewed with suspicion See Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but not the Church; & David Kinnaman, UnChristian. See Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but not the Church; & David Kinnaman, UnChristian.

24 Kierkegaard on Christianity We have... a complete inventory of churches, bells, organs...,etc. But when Christianity does not exist, the existence of this inventory, so far from being... an advantage, is far rather a peril because it... give[s] rise to a false impression... that when we have such a complete Christian inventory, we must of course have Christianity.

25 The Delightful Challenge On what may the Christian rely in proclaiming the gospel? John 3:5 (Born of the Spirit) Rom 5:1, 2; Eph 2:8-10 (Justified “works”) John 15:1-8 (Abide in Vine; Sanctified for fruit) Matt 5:13-16; cf. Matt 6:1-4 (Light shine) Phil 2:2; Eph 4; 1 Cor 12 (Community of Joy) Zech 8:20-23 (10 foreigners hold onto 1 Jew) I Pet 2:11-12 (A life well lived) Preach the gospel at all times, and when absolutely necessary, use words (Francis of Assisi)

26 The Bible and Postmodernity Who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.... The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness. 1 Cor 2:11-14

27 Engagement Strategy 1. Know your story, as a lived experience; as an experiential knowledge of God 2. Know the strengths & challenges of the story of your friends with whom you wish to engage, so you may diaglogue about their story, exploring its challenges 3. “Capture” your friends, retelling the story, to show how the challenges of their story are met by the strengths of your story (God’s salvation story in your life) Curtis Chang, Engaging Unbelief

28 The Bible & Postmodernity Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1Pet 2:11-12)

29 A Man Fell in a Hole VideoDiscussion


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