Monday, September 22, 2008

Changing times

Peter Drucker, a well-respected management and business guru, writes in his book Post-Capitalist Society:
Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions.
Fifty yeas later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their parents were born.
We are currently living through just such a transition (1).

The change to a postmodern worldview isn't quick. It is feathering the generations as the modern fades and the postmodern overwhelms. The coming generations are more pluralistic, more mystical, more experiential, more global, more fluid, and more convinced of subjective preferences. They do not like logic and refuse to be judgmental about anything. It doesn't like Christianity, because Christianity appears to point the finger at them.

How do we address these changes?
We hold fast to what we believe. We live convicted lives with love. We won't win everyone, but we will survive. We hold fast to faith, hope, and love. We do not forget who we are, whose we are, from where we have come, and where we are going.

We try to understand those with whom we must live (1 Chron. 12:32) but do not conform to them (Rom. 12:2). We identify with others but never lose focus of the imperatives of who we are (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

We understand that the gospel message is eternal not temporal. We understand that the kingdom of God is eternal not a reinvention in succeeding generations. We look to an eternal God who transcends cultural shifts, which are themselves destined to die.

We must once again see the utter uniqueness of Jesus as the one and only Lord. We must again proclaim all the reasons why we should believe. Our pulpits must once again ring with evidences for faith, hope and love.

We must live as people born again to a new life in a world bound for futility and confusion. Postmodernism has nothing to offer better than Christ.

Just as generations came back to God in the Old Testament, so there will be returns to the one and only faith of all time (Jude 3). That it may take time should not cause us to despair. The Lord is still on the throne, and his hand is with his people.



preacherman said...

Wonderful post.
Thank you for discussing such an important topic.
I am so glad that we can put our trust and faith in a God who is the same today, yesterday and forever. Knowing that God does not change gives me security as I trust in Him.

Anonymous said...

I would not say the emerging generations do not like Christianity, if we speak about Christianity in terms of a life lived in the footsteps of Jesus (in fact I believe the emerging gengerations are more open to Jesus than some of the previous generations have been). The emerging generation just dislikes the view of Christianity that has dominated Western Culture for the last hundred or so years... you know, the kind of Christianity that sits in a pew as a champion of dogma that views itself as having it all figured out while trivializing the the call to love the "least of these", the call to carry a cross rather than a sword, the call to value mercy over sacrifice, the call to care for the widows and orphans rather than amassing more and more wealth, etc...

I realize that as the public perception of what Christianity is is based on a perception the the entire contemporay Christian scene in North America and not just the Churches of Christ. Further, while perception and reality are not necessarily the same, there is generally an element of truth to all perception.

Does this mean we must either abandon the grace and truth of Jesus or throw our hands up in the air as though the mission of God is an impossible task among the emergin generation? Neither option is acceptable. First, God through his Spirit is the power for mission. God has and always will accomplish his mission through local churches who exist as jars of clay. Despite our flaws, God will accomplish his will (and I would add, with us or without us). But secondly, what can we do. I believe we must start with humility. While upholding grace and truth, we must acknowledge that we do not know everything. This does not mean we do not know anything, it simply is a position of humility rather than arrogant pride. Beyond this, we must take serious the life of Jesus. We are called to follow Jesus. He is our hermenuetic. This means that we need to actually live like Jesus so that our life looks like Jesus' life (something that seems to be far from the norm for Christians). If we want the emerging culture to believe in the grace and truth of Jesus, they will most likely only come to such believe as they see such belief embodied in the church (actually lived out).

My thoughts are made with the Churches of Christ in mind. The Churches of Christ have always stood on the claim that we want to be just what the first century church was. Though I have not visted every Congregation within the Churches of Christ, I have been around enough and it seems that our membership is increasingly looking more like products of our own culture rather than the disciples of Jesus we are called to be. If we want the world to believe, then we must take discipleship seriously. After Hurricane Katrina hit, many Churches of Christ sacrificed time and money to help those in need. This was great but that level of self-sacrificial servanthood involvement is needed all the time.

My question is how do we convince those we have influence over in our congregations of this need? I have been serving in ministry for about six years and this is by far the biggest challenge.

Grace and peace,


Anonymous said...

IF the silence of the Scriptures is prohibitive, as Phil claims, are the four cups of wine thereby prohibited from association with the Passover meal? Yes or No? Which is it? And IF men choose to ADD these cups of wine to the Passover feast, an addition about which the Word of God is totally silent, is such addition in the face of biblical silence a SIN? Yes or No? Which is it? Your answers will prove most revealing with respect to your consistency of teaching (or lack thereof) with respect to this so-called "law of silence" and its prohibitive force.

That was from two years ago.

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Anonymous,
I answered the four cups of wine argument a few years ago. Most of the evidence of what some are sure is a breaking of the "law of silence" arises out of Rabbinic tradition not SCRIPTURE. We have no evidence that Jesus strictly followed Rabbinic tradition. We do have evidence that following the commandments of men leads to vain worship (Mt. 15:1-14; Mk. 7:1-20). I am not sure that you can sustain your argument without an appeal to evidence from Rabbinic tradition that comes after the fact (90+ AD).