The fact that I am a follower of Christ is way more important than the fact that I identify myself with the emergent and post-modern movements. But some of the reasons I am a Christ-follower are beyond words; on the other hand, the reason that once I enter the country of Christianity that I choose to go into the state of emergency and the county of post-modernity are a little easier to explain.
Some of the reason that these descriptions are so controversial is because they mean so many different things to so many different kind-of people. When I describe myself a post-modern, when I proclaim the power of the emergent church, here is what I mean:
By proclaiming myself a post-modern, one thing I am doing is subscribing to a certain view of the history of ideas. This view states that once we were ancient, ruled by superstition. This gave rise to the modern era. Modernity worshipped a shallow kind of rational thought, and ideas divorced of their context. The modern era was time of domination, and man-centeredness.
I believe that it is a good thing that we are working at transcending this. Modernity gave us electricity, but it also gave us the inquistion; it gave us space travel but it also gave us nazis.
Post-modernity emphasizes the relational and the contextual. Taken to far it can be relativistic. But modernity taken to far can become manical.
I believe that Post-modern Christians help recover the importance of relationships to Jesus. When I’m feeling provacative and fiesty, I proclaim that post-modernity does a much better job of taking the Fall seriously than modern Christianity does. It’s an ironic thing about traditional Christianity (traditional meaning Christianity circa 1650-1950): One of the most basic doctrines is that man made himself broken, fallible, disconnected from the source of wisdom. These broken, fallible, disconnected men then went on to proclaim with arrogant surety every little thought that popped into their brains.
Post-modern Christianity I think takes seriously the image of wrestling with angels. It is characteristic of post-moderns as a whole to recognize tensions without always having to resolve them. Sometimes, this leads to inaction, and that can be a bad thing. However, the alternative is to almost arbitrarily to decide which side of an issue to come down on, to ignore the values of the other side… where modernity tends to identify what it isn’t, tends to oppose and fight, post-modernity looks for a synthesis.
There are dangers in both modernity and post-modernity… I think the church, though, is in desperate need of post-modernity… Conversely, I think our culture as a whole, the secular world, is in desperate need of modernism, I think that the pendulum in the outside world has swung too far away from surety and objective truth.
The very title emergence evokes the idea that God is working through us… he is transforming us as he transforms the world. He is not done with us yet. We recognize that we are the clay, and we are open to His moldings…