Tuesday, June 16, 2009

PomoChurch: Summer Series Exploring Postmodernity and the Church

The Church is always changing. It is always evolutionary. But occasionally changes in the Church are revolutionary. During revolutionary times, major change happens. And these revolutionary changes seem to happen every 500 years or so: Constantine in the 4th Century, the Great Schism of the 11th Century, the Reformation in the 16th Century, and now Postmodernity in the 21st Century. People such as Phyllis Tickle, John Cobb, and Brian McLaren have been talking about the Posmodern revolution in the Church for years. Many other people have been taking notice lately, too. And for good reason. The Church is going through a time of revolutionary change. Postmodernity is not a fad to be debated, it's a fact to be addressed. The Church is entering the Postmodern age, whether we acknowledge it or not.

The Modern age of universal truth, objective fact, and optimistic progress is waning. The Modern idea of "universal truth" is giving way to the Postmodern idea of "perspectival truths." Everyone has a different perspective. The Modern idea of "objective fact" is giving way to the Postmodern idea of "subjective interpretation." Everyone interprets everything. The Modern idea of "optimistic progress" is giving way to the Postmodern idea of "pragmatic realism." Nothing - even science - is the panacea for the world's problems. The world just ain't so black and white. There's a whole lot of grey. In fact, it's all grey for Postmodernists. As John Caputo says, "The world is a lot more complicated than Modernists think, a lot messier, less-well programed, less rule-governed, more open-minded and open-textured." Attending to the diversity and messiness of the world in realistic ways is what Postmodernity is all about. Postmodernity, in short, is attention to detail. And attending to detail is changing everything. Even the Church.

The changes that Postmodernity is bringing to the Church must be addressed. These changes aren't to be feared and resisted. After all, Charles Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” The Church must adapt with the times. It must adapt to Postmodernity. And it must do so, so we can give the most adequate testimony to the God known through Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus, Paul, and the early disciples used their context and culture to testify to God, we must also use our context and culture in order to effectively testify to God. And that means the Church needs to carefully and prayerfully learn to speak to and in a Postmodern world. Okay, that's all good and fine. But what does all this mean?

What does Postmodernity mean and what does it mean for the Church? I have invited clergy, laypeople, professors, and authors to explore answers to that very question. So, throughout the summer, there will be a series of guest bloggers who will reflect on Postmodernity and the Church. The hope is that a fruitful and generative conversation will emerge from the posts offered by these guest bloggers.

Please join this conversation about and adventure into the Postmodern Church.

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