A Post-Christian World

Below are some reflections on something I have been working on and thinking through. I would be interested in what you think.

_______________________________________

It is difficult to define the post-Christian world in one sentence or paragraph, or even in one book. One of the main reasons for this difficulty is because a trait of the post-Christian world is relativism. Relativism is a belief that all points of view are equally valid because all points of view are relative to the individuals experiences. There is no such thing as absolute truth because all truth is subject to context and culture. As a result, facts cannot be trusted because what is factual today can be falsified tomorrow. Morality is also relative and open to individual choice and interpretation.

Closely connected to relativism is the idea referred to as deconstruction. Starting in the world of literary criticism, deconstruction is a belief that no single meaning of a text is possible. Moving away from literary criticism, deconstruction involves critically evaluating why any belief is believed and why what anyone says is to be taken at face value. Deconstruction goes beyond questioning everything to questioning the possible meanings of everything. The goal of deconstruction is not to destroy meaning and belief but to point out hidden assumptions and contradictions that affect our ability to truly understand.

A third trait of a post-Christian world is distrust. The prevailing attitude in a post-Christian world is to speak out against traditional establishments like religion. Societal institutions have been corrupted by power and can no longer be trusted. Distrust leads to a fourth trait, disillusionment. Since nothing can be trusted, nothing can be known with certainty. In a post-Christian world people have grown weary of all the unfulfilled promises of science, technology, government, and religion.

Concerning religion, another trait of a post-Christian world is pluralism. All religions are equally false and/or equally valid in that all religions offer paths to God or gods. As contradictory as it may sound, the only religions to be denounced are those that claim any type of exclusivity, especially Christianity. If Christianity is not denounced, at the very least it should be deconstructed.

A sixth trait is environmentalism. In a sense, protecting the environment is the religion of choice in a post-Christian world. Human societies, especially in the West, have raped and abused the earth, and so defending “Mother Earth” is of critical importance. On a positive note, understanding biblical environmental stewardship can be attractive to many people in a post Christian world.

One last trait[1] of a post-Christian world is the significance of globalization. Nationalism and patriotism hinders a broader relationship with the world. All peoples are interconnected and all boundaries are arbitrary. Seeking the greater global good is of primary importance.

A Blessing in Disguise

Living in a post-Christian world is really a blessing in disguise. Since the days of Acts, at no time in history have people been as open to God as today. However, these same people who are open to God are closed to traditional, organized religion. Today’s generation is tired of facts, figures, and a nicely put together apologetic. This does not mean apologetics is not important, and that a systematic theology is unnecessary. It simply means there is a different starting point in a post-Christian mindset.

People today are looking for something real, meaningful, and lasting. In their search, they are willing to accept messy paradoxes, even contradictions. A post-Christian mindset doesn’t need everything to fit nicely together. In fact, if fits too nicely, this generation will reject it. Now, like no time since the days of the Apostles, disciples of Jesus have an opportunity to show the world the difference following Jesus makes, the good, the bad, and the ugly—without having to know all the answers.

While the modern mindset shouted “prove it,” the post-Christian mind whispers, “live it.” The modern mind stumbled over the miraculous and supernatural (prove the existence of God; prove the virgin birth; prove the infallibility of Scripture; prove the resurrection; etc…) while the post-Christian mind embraces—even longs for—the miraculous and supernatural. In the past, unbelievers were introduced to a good apologetic for the faith and then applied that truth to their lives. Today, many people want to know, “Does it work?” or “What difference will Jesus make in my life?” before they examine the deeper question of “why.” Their thinking leaves the doors wide open for every believer to share his or her faith and to live his or faith out in the public arena.

In a post-Christian world, the differences between Christian and non-Christian are more obvious, attracting the person looking for meaning and purpose in life. For years we have preached that following Jesus is about relationship, not religion. Above everything else, people in a post-Christian world are looking for real, genuine, authentic relationships.


[1] The seven traits I have listed here – relativism, deconstruction, distrust, disillusionment, pluralism, environmentalism, and globalization – are more of a representative list than an exhaustive list. Several different traits could have been added.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A Post-Christian World

  1. Excellent explanation! And true:). “While the modern mindset shouted “prove it,” the post-Christian mind whispers, “live it.” The modern mind stumbled over the miraculous and supernatural (prove the existence of God; prove the virgin birth; prove the infallibility of Scripture; prove the resurrection; etc…) while the post-Christian mind embraces—even longs for—the miraculous and supernatural.” Yes, yes, yes. Well done Kevin!

  2. Thank you for your description of present-day thinking though there are other religions that are exclusive in their belief (Islam and Judism to name two) but in our present society only Christanity seems to be attacked. Actually, fundmintalist among Muslims believe that all other religions should be either coverted or done away with. We as Evangelicals just believe that they will be lost eternally. But throughout history there have been “Chistians” who believed the same way as the Muslims (the Spanish inquisition among others). Actually, even in our country we have never had so many as we do now who profess to being “Born-again believers”. But the founders of our nation, many of who were Free Masons, and almost all who had some “Christian” background but many had a background of persecution by governments that were committed to a particular religion so they were very concern about the protection of religious groups from government. I personally have experienced this, even in recent times, the opposition of governments that see the work of missionaries as an attack against their culture. For this reason as a missionary I was very concerned that we respect the culture of the people we were seeking to win for the Gospel. Unfortunately, there had been a history of missionaries in Panama of being disrespectful of their culture. One of the things that even today, after 50 years of FWB mission work, the church is culturally “Panamanian” being one of the first to use their music. Out of our FWB people has come a movement among all of the Evangelical churches of having “fifth Sunday Sings” where groups from different churches gather regulaly to sing the Gospel using their own compositions of their music (like “Country Gospel”)..
    The blessings that we have in our nation is that, we do have a pluralistic state, and we as baptists have always fought for that. “We are willing to die for the truth that we believe but will die for you to have the right to believe as you do.” This is one of the great values that our nation has had. The problem is that from both sides there has been a mis-understanding of the principles involved.
    You are right on as to the opportunity that we have of presenting the Gospel as a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Not just a set of creeds and dogmas. It’s all about “walking the Walk” while we “talk the Talk”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s