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Understanding the postmodern transition. Living in a post-Christendom, post-modern, post- Enlightenment, post-evangelical, post-liberal, post-colonial,

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding the postmodern transition. Living in a post-Christendom, post-modern, post- Enlightenment, post-evangelical, post-liberal, post-colonial,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding the postmodern transition

2 Living in a post-Christendom, post-modern, post- Enlightenment, post-evangelical, post-liberal, post-colonial, post-________ world.

3 In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... 1 Peter 3:15-16

4 Why the prefix post- can be helpful... … think about puberty … you start with a child you end up with a young adult the transition period is a bit of both

5 Why the prefix post- can be helpful... REMEMBER: Post- is not Anti-! It means emerging from … being rooted in … with both continuity and newness. So, what is modern?

6 2500+ BC Prehistoric World

7 2500 BC AD Ancient World 1 AD500 BC500 AD Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman empires

8 2500 BC AD Ancient World 1 AD500 BC500 AD Medieval World 500 AD AD 1500 AD Caravel/Columbus Printing/Gutenberg Copernicus/Galileo Guns/Infantry Reformation/Luther


10 The new Philosophy calls all in doubt, The Element of fire is quite put out; The Sun is lost, and thearth, and no mans wit Can well direct him where to look for it. Tis all in peeces, all cohaerance gone; All just supply, and all relation: Prince, Subject, Father, Sonne, are things forgot, For everyman alone thinkes he hath got To be a Phoenix, and there can bee None of that kinde, of which he is, but hee. John Donne, 1611 ( )

11 The great chain of being

12 Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light. Alexander Pope ( ) Epitaph Intended for Sir Isaac Newton ( )

13 1500 AD AD Modern World 1750 AD1500 AD2000 AD Postmodern World 1950 AD - ??? Medieval World Planes, trains automobiles Print/Screen/Internet New Science New Weapons New Spirituality Systems Thinking

14 Thomas Kuhn

15 Old Paradigm/ model Early Transition Late Transition New Paradigm/ model

16 Three worlds 1. Medieval world (Ptolemy, Augustine) 2. Modern world (Newton, Calvin) 3. Emerging world (???)

17 Newtonian (Modern) World: Knowledge is like a building or wall. Fundamental Beliefs are established by research (doubt). They must be incorrigible. Certainty is built from the bottom up. All is solid and at rest.

18 Post-Newtonian World Knowledge is like a web. Beliefs are flexible, in dynamic tension, and corrigible. All is dynamic and alive.

19 Paradigm Shifts It was as if the ground had been pulled out from under one, with no firm foundation to be seen anywhere, upon which one could have built. Albert Einstein On his paradigm shift

20 Paradigm Shifts A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. Max Planck Scientific Autobiography

21 … how do we honor the reformers? -- by faithfully repeating their formulations? -- by courageously following their example? … an important question



24 Themes of Postmodernity 1. Conquest, Control, Progress … Conservation 2. Mechanistic/reductionist … holistic/systemic 3. Analytical … post-analytical 4. Secular/scientific … spiritual/scientific 5. Objective … Intersubjective 6. Critical … Post-critical 7. Organization … alliance, network

25 Themes of Postmodernity 8. Individualism … community, tradition, tribe 9. Protestant/polemical … Post-protestant 10. Consumerist … ??? 11. Print literacy …layered fluency 12. National … global/migratory

26 Themes of Postmodernity 1. Conquest and Control Post-Conquest = Conservation ModernPostmodern

27 Themes of Postmodernity 2. Mechanistic Reductionistic Post-Mechanistic = Ecosystems Organisms Social Systems ModernPostmodern

28 Themes of Postmodernity 3. AnalyticalPost-Analytical = Systems Thinking Holism Passion ModernPostmodern

29 Themes of Postmodernity 4. Secular/ Scientific Post-Secular/ Scientific = Spiritual/ Scientific ModernPostmodern

30 Themes of Postmodernity 5. ObjectivePost-Objective = Intersubjective ModernPostmodern

31 Themes of Postmodernity 6. CriticalPost- Critical = Listening Collaborative ModernPostmodern

32 Themes of Postmodernity 7. OrganizationPost- Organizational = Network Alliance Movement ModernPostmodern

33 Themes of Postmodernity 8. IndividualismPost- Individualistic = Community Tribalism Tradition ModernPostmodern

34 Themes of Postmodernity 9. Protestant and Polemical Religion Post-Protestant Post-Polemical = Spirituality ModernPostmodern

35 Themes of Postmodernity 10.Consumerism Post- Consumerism ??? = Stewardship ModernPostmodern

36 Themes of Postmodernity 11. Print literacy Layered Multi-lane Linked Dialogical Fluency ModernPostmodern

37 Themes of Postmodernity 12. National Post-national Global Local Glocal Migratory ModernPostmodern

38 A Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay Upon this age that never speaks its mind This furtive age, this age endowed with power to wake the moon with footsteps, To fit an oar into the rowlocks of the wind and find what swims before his prow And what swirls behind,

39 A Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay Upon this gifted age in this dark hour Rains from the sky a meteoric shower of facts. They lie unquestioned, uncombined. Wisdom enough to leach us of our ill is daily spun But there exists no loom to weave it into fabric. Edna St. Vincent Millay (from Hunstman, What Quarry?

40 A Preliminary Assessment All of our systematic theologies are modern constructs.

41 A Preliminary Assessment Our understanding of the gospel, the Bible, the church, and the churchs mission are entwined with modernity.

42 A Preliminary Assessment Postmodernity may appear to us a threat and a danger to be opposed (much as modernity, in its earliest expression via the Reformation, appeared to be a threat to the Roman Catholic Church).

43 A Preliminary Assessment To the degree that we succeed in preserving the modern perspective in our churches, we will tend to make them ineffective in ministry in the emerging postmodern culture.

44 A Preliminary Assessment Many churches will choose to circle the wagons and defend our modern institutions against postmodernity. But this will be a losing battle and an ill-advised gospel strategy.

45 Some Preliminary Questions Should postmodern people be given the chance to practice Christian faith as postmoderns, or must they be converted into modern Christians? What if the gospel needs to be incarnated into the emerging postmodern culture, just as it was within ancient, medieval, and modern cultures? Wouldnt a sound missiology predispose us to treat the emerging postmodern culture as we would any other culture – as part of Gods creation which needs to be encounter, be addressed by, engage with, and be redeemed by the gospel?

46 A Preliminary Proposal For at least some of our churches and agencies to commit themselves to loving, understanding, and embracing the emerging postmodern culture in order to transform it. For at least some of us to become pioneers in incarnating the gospel in this new world.

47 For people like you to lead the way.

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