Can a person be postmodern and a Christian at the same time?

Can a person be postmodern and a Christian? Not for long
Can a person be postmodern and a Christian? Let’s look at their leader

Wow. Postmodern “Christian” Brian McLaren has completely abandoned traditional Christianity. McLaren, you may already know, spear-headed the “emergent church” movement – an attempt to fuse postmodern relativism with liberal Christianity.

Greg Koukl and Kevin DeYoung analyze his latest book “A New Kind of Christianity”.

The MP3 file is here.

Details:

Kevin DeYoung – Brian McLaren’s New Kind of Christianity
Host: Greg Koukl

Guest: Kevin DeYoung – Brian McLaren’s “New Kind of Christianity” (00:00:00)
Commentary: Reality vs. Religion? The Modern Upper Story Leap (00:56:39)
Guest: Dennis Prager – Reality vs. Religion (01:52:25)

We’re interested in the first hour of the three-hour show.

Topics of hour one:

  • What is Brian’s view of Creation?
  • What is Brian’s view of the Fall?
  • What is Brian’s view of Scripture?
  • What is Brian’s view of Truth?
  • What is Brian’s view of sin and Hell?
  • What is Brian’s view of the Fall?
  • What is Brian’s view of atonement?
  • How did Brian’s leftist political views infect his theology?
  • How did postmodernism affect Brian’s epistemology?
  • How faithful is Brian in interpreting the text?

There’s also a nice blog post about Brian McLaren by Melinda from Stand to Reason, too.

Excerpt:

McLaren doesn’t think the Bible is to be taken literally. For instance, the Garden of Eden story isn’t about sin and the Fall, rather it’s a “compassionate coming of age story.”  Consequently, the whole idea of sin and Hell is a horrible overreaction and has caused the church to offer a violent message and image all these years.  It follows from this interpretation then, that there is no need for the cross and Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Those are violent ideas resulting from a bad reading of the Bible.

And a couple of longer reviews are linked.

Tim Challies and Kevin DeYoung have written excellent and more in-depth reviews of McLaren’s new book and I highly recommend them.

I highly recommend you listen to this podcast and if you know anyone who is being influenced by the (non) religious left, take a look at the articles, especially the DeYoung article, which is quite good.

A generous “orthodoxy”?

And finally, here is a review of another much earlier Brian McLaren book by Biola University professor of philosophy Doug Geivett – one of my absolute favorite people. This is back when McLaren was just starting to leave orthodox Christianity behind.

Excerpt:

Brian McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy (Zondervan, 2004) has been called a manifesto of the “emerging church” — a movement that is rethinking Christianity against the backdrop of postmodernism. McLaren is the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Md.

[…]In using the term “orthodoxy” for his position, McLaren is making a political move to subvert traditional evangelical theology. “Orthodoxy,” as he uses it, is whatever happens to be in vogue and culturally dominant. Also, an important theme among postmodernists has to do with the nature of belief — they doubt that people have, or need, good reasons to believe as they do, so they emphasize behavior over belief. (This probably explains why McLaren’s book relies less on evidence and argumentation and more on rhetoric.) However, in de-emphasizing the importance of belief, McLaren and other postmodernists overlook three things.

First, belief is the engine that drives behavior. The best way to cure wrong action is to identify false beliefs. Second, all people — even postmodernists — have definite beliefs about the things that matter most. They can’t help it. While McLaren resists the invitation to state clearly what he believes — for example, about the eternal destiny of nonbelievers — surely he has some view of the matter and that view influences his approach to the proclamation of the gospel. (As a pastor, he should have good ideas about this and a host of other issues of theological significance.) Third — though postmodernists sneer at the idea of evidence — evidence matters because it’s how we determine what’s true and is crucial to ordering our lives according to truth. In this respect, the postmodernist is out of step with the culture because human beings are by nature evidence-gatherers.

Very important to understand where these postmodern “Christians” are coming from, and where they end up when they’ve worked their mystical anti-realism through to its conclusions.

5 thoughts on “Can a person be postmodern and a Christian at the same time?”

  1. Can you believe this? My second Bill Clinton joke and it isn’t even 8 am.
    “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” In our case “be.” And “Christian.” Because for once a writer has actually given a clear definition of a term, postmodern, that they are using.
    We also need to determine the worldview of WHO is asking the question and WHO is answering it.
    From the perspective and worldview of the postmodern, they can be anything they want to be all at the same time (if time even exists). They can be a Christian-Muslim who worships in an Orthodox Synagogue, dresses as a Sikh and acts like a Hedonist.
    From a “normal” Christian’s perspective, sure. God is love and Christ doesn’t exist unless I’m in church or around other “Christians.”
    From Wintery Knight’s perspective, no and most Christians aren’t Christians either. OK, that’s a little harsh, but WK has pretty high standards and I’m not sure even Billy Graham is going to make it into Heaven based on WK’s standards. (This is said in a joking tone.)
    So, WK clearly defined “postmodern.” And clearly defining terms BEFORE debating a topic is brought into focus by Doug Geivett’s review of “A Generous Orthodoxy.”
    I believe, based on my readings of WK’s posts that WK defines a “Christian” as someone who has not only accepted Jesus Christ as their savior but also walks the walk all week long.
    So, WK may define “be” as someone who actively and purposefully (I’m guessing WK has written about “A Purpose Driven Life.”) lives what they profess to be based on an objective set of values. Note: By my definition of “objective” a postmodern has objective values even if THEY think they don’t. Of course the postmodern definition of “objective” is “What I believe is absolute right now.”
    I would further speculate that what WK is really asking is: Can a postmodern truly accept Christ and go to Heaven?
    That leads to, and I don’t like to complicate things: Can someone who accepts Christ, and is considered “saved” by God and leads a Christian life for many years, become a postmodern and still get into Heaven? This in many cases is the actual situation of the person in question.
    And there are many who are “Christian Atheists,” (See books and articles on the term.) those who profess to believe in God but live like God doesn’t actually judge them for their lifestyles.
    Life is simple, but we like to complicate it.
    PS – Dennis Prager has one of the best “Christian” worldviews out there. Maybe we could discuss, “Can a Jew have a Christian worldview?” Oh, right, they can have a Judeo-Christian worldview.
    Prager’s article, “Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality”, is relevant today. His book, “Happiness is a Serious Problem” is worth the time, but if you don’t have the time go to Prager U on YouTube and watch “Happiness is a Moral Obligation.” Like all Prager U videos it is about 5 minutes long, so watch “Why Be Happy?” and “Happiness Equation: U = I – R” while you are there.

  2. You may find useful to check out my two volume series on postmodernism called Flight From the Absolute: Cynical Observations on the Postmodern West. These two books have been deliberately written not for an Evangelical readers (though they should benefit from such reading) but for the people I went to university (Social Sciences) with and those who think like them. These volumes examine the basic presuppositions/dogmas of postmodernism along with it’s destructive ethical implications with issues such as euthanasia (now massively promoted in the postmodern West) and the fate reserved by postmoderns elites for those with disabilities, those deemed to be leading “unproductive lives”. We seem to see the creeping shadow of That Hideaous Stength… Volume 2 examines the materialistic origins myth that provides the basis both for Enlightenment-based ideologies as well as postmodernism.

    1. Isn’t “postmodern dogma” an oxymoron?
      GMTA – I was going to suggest a discussion of presuppositional apologetics ala Van Til. Of course he isn’t the only proponent. And a quick side-trip to Rational Wiki (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Presuppositionalism) will yield a scathing review of the approach.
      And as usual, a quick search to verify something leads to yet another rabbit hole. I’m pretty sure this article will be of interest to those here.
      Libertarianism: A Presuppositional Approach
      Feb 29, 2012 by Bojidar Marinov
      https://americanvision.org/5615/libertarianism-a-presuppositional-approach/

      1. Most religions have a sacred text that defines Truth, whether it is the Koran, the Humanist Manifesto or Das Kapital. Though postmoderns claim to reject all metanarratives, when in fact all the cards are on the table the only “truth” left to them is the individual, feeding his urges and desires. As the buzz-phrase goes: “Everyone has their own truth”. Darwinism (as “truth”) has it’s uses to pomos as it overthrows the Divine BusyBody before whom one day all will come before in judgement. Naturally postmoderns HATE the old Judeo-Christian concept of judgement with a vengeance as it is in violent contradiction with the basis of their religion, that there is NO authority over the individual (nor tellingly, over the State).

        Early chapters in Flight vol. 1 identify core postmodern beliefs and groups promoting them. It goes on to examine some of the potential ethical and social consequences of a coherent application of postmodernism in the West, leading to issues such as politically correct forms of censorship, artificial intelligence, the environment as Idol and animal rights. In many fields, the postmodern belief system is now dominant in the West. Pop-culture, education and the legal system are a few of the tools available to postmoderns for “terra-forming” Western culture. At the heart of the “Culture Wars” one then finds the definition of what it means to be human, an intrinsically religious concept if there ever was one…

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