Isaias at Asbury campus

Post-Modernism and Its Influence in the Church


by Rev. Dr. Isaias Catorce

For two hundred years (200 yrs.), Christianity has been interpreted and understood in Western context using the modern lenses of science, philosophy and communication theory. Current revolutions however changed the course of modern history. The three (3) current revolutions are as follows: 1) Revolution in Science, a perplexed theory of relativity. Because matter is in perpetual movement, post-moderns argue that we cannot arrive at rational and scientific facts; 2) Revolution in Philosophy, which aims to dethrone and overturn traditional philosophic; 3) Revolution in Communication (birthed after 1950). While Modern methods of thinking and understanding is through verbal and analytical (such as reading, writing, intelligence, analysis, clarity, explanation, logic, and linear thinking), Postmodern is characterized as more symbolic and visual.

It is bothering today’s generation that our Universities are turning experiential rather than rational. Decision as to what is true is intuitively done by means of seeing and not by deep thinking. God designs our ears to listen and our minds to think with conscience but our present form of communication via visual easily makes our eyes listen devoid of conscience. Due to the heavy influence of internet, television and cell phones conceptual and analytic thinking can bore students to death. Philippines is easily penetrated by a postmodern culture. The controversial art exhibit of Madeo Cruz at Folk Arts Theater brought anger not only in the Senate but with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Also, the “market-driven pop culture worship” brought about by fast-paced consumeristic and entertainment saturated worship popularized by foreign musicians and singers finds acceptance in so many Christian churches but not without problems. Someone said, “Worship wars are alive and well.” Simply, “volume plus pulsation,” the music culture of the day, created annoying sounds to the ears of anti-culturally driven worshippers bringing divisions and controversies within the church.

Furthermore, post-modernism seeks to dismantle Christianity by overturning traditional standards and binary oppositions. It is designed to construct values and meaning by not setting off two opposite statements against one another but through a semiotic analysis. While postmodernism proposes harmony and community, it is done at the expense of deconstructing established texts, structures, arts and systems. It does not propose permanence of principles because it affirms relativity to any given place, person and time. The task to differentiate subjectivity from objectivity is futile since crossing the boundary of each property implies conflict and the eventual domination of one over the other. While it seeks inter-relatedness and interdependence of all things the end result is uncertainty. There is no objective moral standard by which we can base absolute judgment and establish demarcations to truths and fallacies. Thus, the statement: “True to you but not for me.” The deadly poison spewed by postmodernism is treating the Bible not something unique or distinct from all other books. The fates of the Laws of God are simple suggestions, or just another way of looking at reality and could not be used as a fundamental base to enforce judgment.  The principle of relativity is now expressed in arts, architectures, philosophy, economics, politics, language, literatures, and texts which eventually produce a postmodern youth culture. Postmodernism with all forms of subtlety has successfully produced disloyalty and attacks to authority. The discussion about Postmodernism paves the way to investigate the present status of the youth’s culture which if properly analyzed and studied will benefit their engagement to a pluralistic society for a meaningful proclamation of the Good News of Christ.

In order that evangelical Christian respond pro-actively to postmodernism two questions can be asked: 1) What will Evangelical Christianity look like in the future?; 2) Can a classical paradigm of worship be incarnated in a post-modern culture? May our search for a more comprehensive understanding of postmodernity would lead us to a meaningful and colorful tapestry of life even as we create theology and enhance worship that fits well with the Filipino culture.

The theme: “The Youth in a Postmodern Culture” taught by Rev. Dr. Isaias Catorce in Alliance Graduate School (AGS) is not to water down the faith but rather shape the story of Christianity by being a countercultural community with the following assertions: 1) Render Christ as the center of all things; 2) Restore the Biblical and Historical Theology of Worship; 3) Recover the Conceptual and Symbolic Orders of Worship; 4) Return to Classical Christianity in matters of faith.

References:

Carson, D.A. Telling The Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000.

Copan, Paul That’s Just Your Interpretation: Responding to Skeptics who Challenge Your Faith, 2001

Flemming, Dean, “Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission,” 2005.

Geisler, Norman & Bocchino, Peter Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the

Christian Faith, 2001.

Groothuis, Douglas Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism, 2000.

Hiebert, Paul G. “Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues,” 1994.

Webber, Robert E. “Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World,” 1999.