:: Thursday, April 10, 2003 ::
Kevin Miller is asking some good questions. Thanks to the Tall Skinny Kiwi for the link. Note especially question #4:
"4. One strength of postmodern ministry is its emphasis on listening, really listening, to postmodern nonChristians. Can PPMs listen equally well to the modernist Christian?"
I'm not sure if there's much listening going on between "modernist Christians" and "postmodern Christians"... if there's talking, there's shouting... but it's not really listening, per se.
I have just been reading Niebuhr (as noted a few days ago). It seems that many of the "postmodern Christians" like to gripe about Niebuhr's categories. But it seems like they must be accessing Niebuhr secondarily (i.e. in digest form and through others' references to him). An outright rejection of Niebuhr by "postmodern Christians" is a little self-defeating.
The "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" [yes, he's evoking Kierkegaard] leaves no doubt in my mind that Niebuhr knew that his work with the "5 categories" was incomplete. He then goes on to say that culture is relative. While some have interpreted Niebuhr's core argument as being one of "repackaging the core message" (à la Willow Creek) I don't think that interpretation can stand alone.
Niebuhr argues that we must discover Christ in community. We can't just discover a Christ that is "true for me:" "The Christ who speaks to me without authorities and witnesses is not an actual Christ: he is no Jesus Christ of history." (pp. 245 - 246). If I remember correctly, "postmodern Christians" are promoting the whole community thing.
He argues for action over speculation. Based off of Kierkegaard's arguments in the Philosophical Fragments and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, he casts aside our delusions of objectivity in "The speculative reason" (p. 246) and argues for a historically based reasoned action in the present moment (p. 247). This counters the a-historicity of Webber's "Pragmatic Evangelicals" of Willow Creek fame. Living out the faith is more important than theory for most "postmodern Christians."
There's more to say, but this is long enough for now, eh?
:: Matt 4/10/2003 12:19:00 AM :: permalink ::