The past: Modernism
The Christian church has encountered a considerable amount of criticism from many different sources over hundreds of years.
The Catholic, Anglican, and Episcopalian churches have had scandals regarding the moral character and behavior of its clergy. There are many people who participate solely for the ceremony rather than the religion. Many others believe so thoroughly that they are prone to superstitions.
The so called "Evangelical" Protestant church has been criticized for its overzealous approach to social reform, often using questionably invasive tactics to attempt to 'convert' the 'lost'.
In the last century, science has called many traditional religious beliefs and dogmas into question, yet science itself never really answers some of the basic spiritual longings of our lives.
Now, there is a growing group of thinkers and believers who are attempting to seek to revise and reform the Christian message in the post-modern era where the flow of information is the spice of life and people are longing for a return to spirituality without the guilt and manipulation of "institutional religion" but don't want to completely abandon the usefulness of science.
First, what is "post-modernism"? There are many definitions of post-modernism, but put simply post-modernism is the response to the philosophies of the modern era. The modern era mainly focused on a criticism of social and religious traditional dogma in light of the ability of science to unveil truth about the natural world. Ideas shifted from unyielding belief in the beliefs of the previous generation to a scientific approach to testing hypothesis based on readily available facts and observations. However, in the last quarter century, the development of mass-communication (TV, Internet, etc) has given rise to a society saturated by scientific, economic, religious, political, and artistic ideas to the point where the individual is lost amidst the flow of information. In this sea of ideas, it is difficult to determine who or what to trust as true. People are turned off to religion which tells them what to believe without explaining why. People are disillusioned with scientific advancement which has polluted the ecosystem and often created more anxiety than an increase in standard of living. Yet, through all this, we are now able to share information and art with a much wider audience and human expression is richer for the free access. So, postmodernism often leaves people with profound questions without many readily identifiable answers, and it is often typified by people who refuse to be pinned down by belief in absolute truths but who still believe that there is such a thing as truth for us to find.
The Response to Postmodernism
The following article does an excellent job of explaining the movement of Christianity which is seeking to respond to this rising postmodern era.
The Five Streams of the Emerging Church
Five Streams of the Emerging Church | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
In short here are the Five Streams
- The need for constant revision of beliefs and practices
- The need to question fundamental assumptions and discover Truth for ourselves
- The need to connect belief with how we live and to practice the faith
- Rejection of labels which separate "believers" from "non-believers"
- An honest approach to social activism and seeking to change the world for the better
Here is the Wikipedia Entry for those who don't trust Christianity Today Magazine.
Emerging church - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What do you think of these ideas? If you consider yourself a Christian, do you agree with them? If you are not a Christian, how do these ideas compare to your perception and experience of Christians? Do you think that this is a more tolerant, more caring, and/or more reasoned way of believing? Do you believe that these ideas are heretical or overly controversial?