Mike Metzger at Leadership University has an excellent article about defending the faith in a postmodern society. Here are his summary points:
- We don’t just offer “answers”; we offer mystery. We should offer faith as a context for exploring mystery.
- We don’t debate minutiae; we focus on essentials. Rather than old earth vs. young earth, we should wrestle with larger issues.
- We don’t push credibility alone; we also stress plausibility. Many commentators of the postmodern scene underscore this point. Credibility has to do with coherence. That is difficult to prove to a postmodern. Plausibility has to do with beauty and satisfaction. This is essentially what Schaeffer promoted.
- We don’t condemn our competitors; we see them as colleagues of sorts and reason with them with winsome gentleness and respect. People are sick of religions fighting one another.
- We don’t rush people; we help them at a healthy pace. We will have to emphasize the process of conversion.
If we Christians could defend Christianity with this mindset, we would see a lot more progress. You have to understand the differences between modernism and postmodernism. Here are a few differences that come to mind.
- Modernism uses logical, sequential argumentation to prove a point. Postmodernism sees no point as proven–ever–arguments are fruitless and negative. Postmoderns prefer dialogue or conversations, and most of them avoid conclusions.
- Modernism believed the law of non-contradiction: two opposite propositions cannot both be true at the same time. Postmodernism never heard of non-contradiction: postmoderns can simultaneously hold contradictory ideas and not be bothered by it or even aware of it.
- Modernism sees truth as objective: facts, certainty, clarity, universality, absolutes. What’s true for one is true for all. Postmodernism has no absolutes. What’s true for you doesn’t have to be true for me; in fact, only a narrow-minded bigot would make a universal truth-claim.
- Modernism sees truth as objective. Postmodernism sees every truth as subjective, biased, and hopelessly colored by our backgrounds. We cannot disengage our personal histories from our understanding of truth: every truth is biased and therefore subject to attack or rejection (except theirs, which is unbiased!).
- Modernism rejected the mystical/supernatural in favor of logic and science. Postmodernism still accepts logic and science, but leaves a lot more room for the mystical and supernatural.
- Modernists say: Show me your arguments. Postmodernists say: Make me feel your truth; show me your life.
This is why Metzger’s points are so crucial today. A lot of us in ministry are losing ground because we’re trying to reach a postmodern mindset using modern methods. So, what’s a good Christian to do?
Back to Mars Hill! When Paul interfaced with the philosphers on Mars Hill in Acts 17, he stepped into a postmodern mindfield. Plurality of gods. Plurality of philosophies. Broad minded tolerance. A moral landscape that would resemble Amsterdam today. Sophisticated. Educated. Liberated. Tolerant. How did the apostle Paul interact with this highly pluralistic culture? What pointers can we distill from Acts 17?
We’ll talk about that in our next posting… and I’ll give you some links to some really good apologetic web sites.