Modernity is a way of thinking that is becoming more and more outdated. However, as the recent Tea-Party led battles in Washington DC show, it isn’t going out without a fight. Modernity is way of looking at the world with the belief that everything known, or worth knowing, is already known and established. It has infected our politics and our churches. Whether you are familiar with this philosophy or not, we are going to identify three ways modernity has affected our Church and our world.
Lie #1: We Have All the Answers
This lie was previously covered here on RLC by Micah Bales in News Flash: Christians Don’t Have All the Answers. However, I need to repeat it because it is important to understand that this notion of having “everything figured out” goes beyond the walls of the Church. It is a part of a whole culture which arose from the Industrial Era: to tell children the world is all figured out.
This has really hurt Christianity for three reasons. First, we look silly trying to answer every little bit of theology or existential query with absolute certainty. Second, we look even more silly when we have 10, 000 denominations each saying their certainty is more certain. Third, we have structured our entire church services and administration around SELLING certainty.
Lie #2: The World Will Take Care of You if You Play Along
This lie goes well beyond the Church. You can see this in politics or with parents guilting their progeny for their low-paying jobs. We have been telling our kids for a few generations now that if they “get in line” or “follow the rules” the world will take care of them. After all, the world is perfect, right?
This lie hurts us because it does not allow for us to ever question the systems of society. People who believe this always blame the poor and under-resourced with Job-like shame and guilt of “you screwed up.” We always blame the individuals for failure and hard-times, that is until the systems starts to fail us. We need to realize that the processes and systems of society are never perfect, some things work and some things don’t. Sometimes you can do everything right and still fail.
Lie #3: The World is Getting Worse
Modernist always see change as a bad thing. After all, there was this magical and idyllic time in our past called “The Good Old Days” where everything was perfect. Remember those days? Me neither. Change is always hard, but that doesn’t mean change is bad. Working out is hard, going to the gym is hard, learning to play violin is REALLY hard, but being difficult doesn’t mean something is bad.
Modernist point to every bump in the road or new challenge as a sign of impending doom and corruption. They think old problems are always better than new problems. They never have new ideas, but they have plenty of reasons why they won’t work. And since the world is always changing, they have a constant supply of evidence that it is all going to “hell in handbasket.”
Lie #4: Everyone is the Same
Everyone is the “same” is different than everyone being equal. To believe we are all equal is to believe that no matter what our circumstances or condition, we all have value and are important. To believe we are the same is to believe we all have the same circumstances. Modernists tend to believe everyone in the world has the same opportunities and circumstances as a middle-aged, middle-class white man. Therefore, if you have any problems in life, they are YOUR fault entirely.
Lie #5: Morality is an Absolute Choice
Lastly, and the core of modernist Christianity, is the belief that morality is an absolute choice. Modernist believe that morality is simply a matter of choice and commitment, and never of circumstances. Thieves are never hungry or desperate, they are simply criminals. Divorcees are never coming from abusive or harmful relationships, they are simply adulterous. The addict is never a victim of trauma, but simply a corrupt individual. No one can ever be “doing their best in a bad situation, ” they are simply bad.
So is Post-Modern More Christian?
So if modernity is defined by certainty, post-modernism is often defined by being certainly uncertain. I believe as Christians, we have a lot to be certain about. We are certain about the love of God. We are certain about the power of grace and forgiveness to heal relationships and lives. We are certain about our call to love and lift up one another. Progressive Christians are not “mindless” they are simply putting people over propaganda.