Modernity, postmodernism, and the church

Transforming Worldviews book coverI’m continuing to pull ideas from Paul Hiebert’s Transforming Worldviews; why come up with my own thoughts while I can use someone’s like Hiebert’s?

Hiebert has a thorough discussion of modernity and it’s impact on the church. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I have to chuckle a bit as so many church leaders pull their hair out over the effects of postmodernism, while they seem blind to what modernity has done to the church. Hiebert says it well:

It is as true, or more so, of conservative Christians, who are often unaware of modernity’s influences. It represents both a great opportunity and a great threat to the church. As Guinness reminds us, “The Christian church contributed to the rise of the modern world; the modern world, in turn, has undermined the Christian church. Thus, to the degree that the church enters, engages and employs the modern world uncritically, the church becomes her own gravedigger” (1994b, 324).

Modernity undercut the authority of Scripture, placed God in a box marked “irrelevant,” and forced the Western church into rigid structures of rules and regulations. Modernity placed logic above God; it placed logic above just about everything. Modernity brought us the dualism which I’ve looked at in the last few chapters.

Even as we struggle to deal with postmodernism’s relativism, maybe we should welcome its necessary critiques of modernity and it’s shortcomings.

Links To Go (January 22, 2016)

Why Your Church Should Support Fewer Missionaries

When your church supports missionaries and international ministries by writing a small check once a month, neither you nor the missionaries receive a truly substantive, life-giving benefit from the relationship. On the other hand, a generous investment of time, energy, and finances will help your missionaries feel connected and increase your church’s grasp of—and meaningful investment in—the Great Commission.


The Greatest Tragedy in the Church Today

Pastors and other leaders must fall on their faces before God and ask Him to reignite their congregations with an evangelistic passion. When evangelism dies as a priority in the church, the church has already begun to die.


A Jesus Hobbyist

Overall, the results of the study revealed that the biggest factor in helping was having the time. The relevant statistic from the study was (% who stopped):

The Low Hurry Condition: 63% offered aid
The High Hurry Condition: 10% offered aid

And, incidentally, some seminarians in the high hurry condition literally stepped over the groaning person on the way to deliver their sermon on the Good Samaritan.


The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches.


Do Modern Translations Disrespect God By Not Capitalizing Those Personal Pronouns?

First, the King James Version, as many modern versions, does not capitalize the personal pronoun. So that immediately shoots down the theory that this is those devilish modern translations dissing on the Almighty.
Secondly, the original Old Testament had no capital letters. There is no such thing as a capital letter in Hebrew. Likewise, when the New Testament was written in Greek it was written in all caps much like a screaming person on Facebook. So no caps and all caps.
The reason, then, why most translations do not capitalize is because they either want to keep with typical English usage rules or because they want to adhere to the original text as closely as possible. For those which choose to capitalize they do so because in their cultural context it is viewed as a sign of respect.


Empire state of mind – why do so many people think colonialism was a good thing?

So, basically, nearly half the population thinks the Amritsar massacre, the concentration camps during the Boer war and after the Mau Mau uprising, the post-partition violence in India caused by uprooting 10 million people, and the four million deaths from famine in Bengal while Churchill diverted grain to British troops and other countries were – what? Dunno. Not things they knew about? The price of doing business? We did bring a lot of economic development to places, you know.
I’m sure the bones of starving children thank you.


Evangelicals Join March for Life as Abortions Plummet in Pro-Choice States

The number of national abortions fell 12 percent from 2010 to 2013/2014, the AP reported. (The data was taken from each state; the newest numbers were either from 2013 or 2014.)
In every state except Louisiana and Michigan, abortion rates plummeted. (California, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Wyoming don’t collect abortion data and weren’t included in the survey.)


Care For A Dip? Crocodile Found Livin’ It Up In Florida Swimming Pool

A crocodile apparently decided a morning dip in a Florida Keys swimming pool was just the thing.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin says an Islamorada homeowner called about 7:30 a.m. Thursday to report the croc in his pool.


Dualists don’t do missions

Transforming Worldviews book coverWe’ve been looking at Paul Hiebert’s Transforming Worldviews, especially about the dualism that grew up in Western culture over the last few centuries, the separation between religious and secular life.

Hiebert hits at the heart of the matter with the following quote:

Finally, the public/private split has made many Christians apprehensive about the whole idea of mission. Who are we to say that our truth is superior to the truths by which others live? (Kindle Location 3179)

That’s it. That’s what’s going on in our churches. I’m not sure if Hiebert saw the transition, but here’s what we’re doing now:

  • Service projects. As he said, the dualism that grew up separated spiritual ministry and physical ministry. Now we’ve spiritualized the physical ministry, but left out the aspect that talks about Jesus. Doing good goes hand in hand with the good news, or it’s not truly good.
  • Short-term missions. Short-term missions have their place, but when they replace evangelistic efforts, they’re harmful. If our focus is on “how good it is for our kids,” that’s inadequate. Few churches have chosen short-term missions because they feel them to be a more effective evangelistic tool than long-term missions. It’s more a way to avoid the tensions Hiebert mentions above.

That’s the heart of the matter. Our separation of spiritual and secular has seriously undercut missions in the church.

Links To Go (January 21, 2016)

What Have I To Fear

But Christians must be willing to ask themselves some hard questions. Is irrational fear driving our cultural and political engagement more than it should? By angry public statements in support of the candidates they prefer, are Christians demonstrating a gospel-shaped view of the world and of the future? When Christian theology is communicated in the language of fear it distorts the very words of the Bible. Love for our neighbors must overcome the temptation to abandon a Christian ethic in pursuit of political victory.


The Problems with Post-Modern Interpretation of the Bible

And we need to listen to their texts prayerfully and carefully and do the original human authors justice (not to mention the divine Author), doing them the good service of allowing them to have a say, even today. A Biblical text without its original historical, rhetorical, social, literary, archaeological texts becomes a pretext for whatever you want it to mean, and this is not a good thing, it’s a bad thing. Nor is the meaning of a text merely ‘a matter of my opinion’ vs. yours. Why not? Because there is an actual meaning in those Biblical texts which can only be discerned with a combination of careful exegesis attending to the various original contexts and prayerful reflection with the guidance of God’s Spirit.


Do We Hate The Lost?

At the 3:30 mark of the video he says “HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO HATE SOMEONE TO BELIEVE THAT EVERLASTING LIFE IS POSSIBLE AND NOT TELL THEM THAT?”
He also says that he has no respect for someone who believes something and does not care enough about others to share that message.
This video floored me because even someone who asserts that there is no God understands the importance of evangelism in the life of a Christian!


Eight Characteristics of the New Bivocational Pastor

I see the marketplace pastor trend as a very healthy movement in American congregations. We will soon see many attorneys, physicians, and key businesspersons who will continue in their marketplace jobs while serving a church as well.


Kenyan Muslim who shielded Christians in al-Shabab attack dies

A Muslim teacher who shielded Christian fellow passengers when their bus was attacked by Islamist militants has died in surgery to treat his bullet wound.
Salah Farah was on a bus travelling through Mandera in Kenya when it was attacked by al-Shabab in December.
The attackers told the Muslims and Christians to split up but he was among Muslim passengers who refused.


Snark attack: Cornell students teach software to detect sarcasm!

The students turned to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk paid crowdsourcing service to obtain 158 more sarcastic reviews and collected 99 sarcastic reviews and 257 non-sarcastic reviews on their own, achieving a total training set of 1,188. On a test sample of 100 sarcastic and 100 non-sarcastic Amazon reviews, the TrueRatr system—based on a “random forest” decision tree algorithm rather than the model originally used by Hong—scored slightly better than Hong’s original, achieving a 75 percent precision score.


Links To Go (January 20, 2015)

Confessions of an Accidentally Racially Blind Pastor

Many of these things may be true, but we still have a race problem. We know this because the subject of race still hurts for many people of color. Dr. Yancey writes:

Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the KKK, but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. After all, you are part of a system that allows you to walk into stores where you are not followed, where you get to go for a bank loan and your skin does not count against you, where you don’t need to engage in “the talk” that black people and people of color must tell their children. As you reap comfort from being white, we suffer for being black and people of color.

Notice he said, “We suffer.” Whenever these two words are uttered, the Gospel demands open ears and open hearts. The Gospel demands careful, humble, non-defensive listening to the history and wounds beneath the words.


The Good Muslim, Latino, and Black Man

If we leave the discussion right there, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves doesn’t seem so difficult. However, when we remember that Jesus spoke of a Samaritan in order to define just how this Jewish lawyer’s neighbor was, we must own up to the fact that our neighbors include those whom we just may in fact dislike, fear, and even hate.


Texas lottery millionaire regrets winning ticket

“The rule of thumb we use is sudden wealth will ruin people in three to five years,” said Thompson, president of Sage Financial Design, a Connecticut-based company whose clients include instant millionaires.
“At the end of five years, the money’s going to be gone or the human being is going to be gone. They either lose their money or themselves or both.”


Why Donald Trump didn’t REALLY mess up when he said ‘Two Corinthians’ instead of ‘Second Corinthians’

“N.T. Wright will often say ‘Two Corinthians,'” my minister friend Jeremie Beller wrote on Facebook, referring to the prominent British New Testament scholar and retired Anglican bishop. “However, call it a hunch, but I don’t believe Trump has been spending time with Wright’s work.”
So no, Trump didn’t really mess up. Except that he probably did.


Deconstructing urgent vs. important

Important means: long-term, foundational, coherent, in the interest of many, strategic, efficient, positive…
If you take care of important things, the urgent things don’t show up as often. The opposite is never true.


10% of College Graduates think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court

Here are some of the results:

  • Only 20.6% of respondents could identify James Madison as the Father of the Constitution. More than 60% thought the answer was Thomas Jefferson—despite the fact that Jefferson, as U.S. ambassador to France, was not present during the Constitutional Convention.
  • College graduates performed little better: Only 28.4% named Madison, and 59.2% chose Jefferson.
  • How do Americans amend the Constitution? More than half of college graduates didn’t know. Almost 60% of college graduates failed to identify correctly a requirement for ratifying a constitutional amendment.
  • We live in a dangerous world—but almost 40% of college graduates didn’t know that Congress has the power to declare war.
  • College graduates were even confused about the term lengths of members of Congress. Almost half could not recognize that senators are elected to six year terms and representatives are elected to two-year terms.
  • Less than half of college graduates knew that presidential impeachments are tried before the U.S. Senate.
  • And 9.6% of college graduates marked that Judith Sheindlin—“Judge Judy”—was on the Supreme Court!

NCAA Investigating God For Giving Gifts To Athletes

Reports indicated that over the past several decades, the Almighty has provided hundreds of players from high-profile Division I football and basketball programs with abundant natural speed, strength, and agility, and both the universities and the players themselves are now said to be facing heavy sanctions and punishments.

[Please note that The Onion is a satirical website]


A True Genius Turned On A Washing Machine With A Brick Inside It While It Was On A Trampoline

The title explains it all. It’s as beautiful as it sounds.