TRACKING TRENDS FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY
Pluralism of Trends in the Post Modern Culture
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was an age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
The essence of the term Post Modernism is a radical denial of Cartesian Foundationalism, i.e., there is no ultimate universal foundation for thought and civilization.
The essence of the term Trend is a line of general direction, a pervading tendency, a general movement of thought in the changing course of time. (see the 1960 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Index of the Leading Economic Indicators, 1960; William J. Bennett, Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, 1993).
Tracing Trends From Rationalism (Foundationalism)
to Relativism to Secularistic Pluralism
The Fundamental assumption of our postmodern era is the collapse of “Foundationalism”, i.e., anti-Foundationalism. Prior to the cultural demise of foundationalism, all categories of Western thought were approached from “scientific assumptions.” All categories of study looked upon the “hard sciences” with envy. Intellectual respectability demanded that all learning could be approached in the manner of science. Psychology abandoned its claim to the human psyche (cf. the soul) and introduced statistics, measurements of behavior, and even mathematical formula. In trying to become scientific, sociology became mere statistics and thus set itself up as the global engineer of society. The positivistic model of science was also extended to the study of history. The advanced methods of data processing and analysis (e.g.. cliometrics, the quantification of history model extended to Marxist tenets of history; scientifically deterministic categories merely extended the social engineering of the Enlightenment, fabricated by Turgot, Condorcet and Saint Simon: Comte’s laws of development derived from Saint Simon became the 19th century explanation of the genesis of ideas and evolution of society. Comte stated the now famous dictum, “science, d’ou prevoyance, prevoyance d’ au action.” Newtonian science was declared to be the key to the understanding of human history and the development of society).
Baron d’ Holbach declared in 1771 that “all errors of men were errors of physics.” (Systime de la nature, new edition, London, 1975), p. 19.3; the origin of the demise of the concept of “providence”). Condorcet’s diagnosis of the retarding factoring of human progress is, “All errors in politics and in morals are based on philosophical errors which in turn are tied to errors in physics.” One must note only one small step to Bertrand Russell’s “mathematics of human behavior as precise as the mathematics of a machine.” (Bertrand Russell, Portraits from Memory (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1956, p. 20.5). This optimistic spirit found sublime expression in the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Crystal Palace provided a flood of illustrations from all over the world. The hand writing was on the wall, “mene tekel upharsin.’ Buckels said that the “signs of the times are all around us.” Pessimism was rampant in Western culture after World War I. Into that malaise steps Spengler with his work, The Decline of The West.
“In the Turgo-Condorcet conception of scientific progress the Western denial of the mythopoetic and affirmation of the rational attained its ultimate expression,” states F.E. Manuel in his book, The Eighteenth Century Confronts The Gods (NY: Antheneum, 1967). In later systems of sociology and anthropology the ‘law of development’ of religion by stages adumbrated during the Enlightenment was expanded into a world-view of the growth of human consciousness (a’ la’ Hegels’ Phenomenology). Historical reason had come to salvage reason itself, but historical reason has been found wanting. Dostoevsky’s aphorism, “If there is not God, then everything is permissible” was a self-fulfilling prophecy, which only extended the reputation of the impious philosopher Euhemerus (an atheist classical author of antiquity who wrote a novel describing the circumstance of the human birth of the dominate gods and the manner of their deification).
Historicity, Thought, Perception, Speech and The Incarnation
Now that the sociology of science has emerged as a sociological specialty, it might prove beneficial to locate the historical and intellectual context of its formative periods of institutionalized arrangements. Historically, from the Antigone of Sophocles to Pope’s Essay On Man, man’s first awakening to his creative powers caused him to believe that he was the wonder of the world. And after the first Scientific Revolution (Galileo and Newton in the 17th/18th centuries) man rapidly became lord of the universe. Celestial mechanics seemed to exclude God from the heavens (Galileo); then Newton’s mechanics dethrones Him as Lord of the earth; then Comte’s positivism removed Him from the social structures; and finally, by way of Freud’s reductionism, He was excluded from even the inner man, i.e., the psychological dimension, the subconscious, i.e., the non-rational. After Freud, faith was totally psychologized and thus removed from objective dimensions of reality. From this point Western man was not far removed from Peter Berger’s ‘Fiery Brook’ at which Berger futilely attempts to relativise the relativisers (see his book with Luckmann, Social Construction of Reality and the sections on Freedom, Epistemology and Irrationalism).
Karl Popper’s main target was Marxism in his declaration, “wherever the freedom of thought and of the communication of thought is effectively protected by legal arbitration and institutions ensuring the publicity of discussion there will be scientific progress.” (Karl Popper, The Open Society (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952, Vol. 2, p. 322) By 1983, it took no crystal ball gazing to perceive the awesome potentialities of computers (via American desktop IBM PCs). Historical events provide enormous data to reject the “paradigmitizing historians of science.” At the same time the Soviet ministry of Defense had few computers. The optimistic international debate provided by the progress of science is challenged by World War II, AIDS and other diseases of epidemic proportions. This impact of scientific perspectives on all categories of reality discovers man’s hope against hope without a transcendent perspective from which to see the past, present and future. The Christian paradigm alone provides this perspective!
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Psalmist shifts from what man does to what God does. “The Lord is in His holy temple; The Lord is on His heavenly throne.” (Psalm 11.4) Man has destroyed our cultural foundations by orienting his life on the foundations of Humanistic, Secularistic, Pluralistic, Relativistic, Narcissistic allegiance. But our Lord is still the sovereign Creator and Redeemer of this fallen universe. Because He is Creator and Redeemer of this fallen universe. Because He is Creator and Redeemer He is present not only in Heaven, but on the earth. He is in His “Holy Temple,” i.e., The Church. No matter if the conditions of our postmodern culture are present, the people of God have the absolute certainty that the victory has already been gained.
The Psalm shifts the issue from what human beings can do to what God is going to do. God’s judgment is set for “the wicked and those who love violence.” (Psalm 11.5) God’s absolutes are vindicated absolutes that have their objective being in the character of God: “For the Lord is righteous and He loves justice.” (Psalm 11.7) When the foundations are destroyed, God’s people are expected to be targeted, “for look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the string to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.” (Psalm 11.2) That the enemies of the faith are shooting “from the shadows,” suggests the subtlety of the attacks. But instead of running, the believer relies on a foundation that will never be shaken; “In the Lord I will take refuge.” (Psalm 11.1)
Christians must agree with the post modernist on the transience of human knowledge, culture and history. “Jesus Christ,” on the other hand, “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8) “When the foundations are destroyed, where shall the righteous be?” “All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.” (I Peter 1.24,25) Only His foundations hold, even as we track trends in our postmodern culture.
“A massive intellectual revolution is taking place,” says Princeton theologian Diogenes Allen, in his book Christian Belief in A Post Modern World, “that is perhaps as great as that which marks off the modern world from the Middle Ages.” As the twentieth century draws to a close, it is clear that a “particular way” of thinking is disappearing and that we are on the verge of something new.
The Christian scholar, Thomas Oden, has chronicled these changes in his book, Two Worlds, Notes on The Death of Modernity in America and Russia. He maintains that the modern age lasted exactly 200 years--from the fall of the Bastille in 1789 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The French Revolution exalted the Rights of Man. It also dismissed Christianity as a relic of the past. During the course of the revolution, “the Elite Philosophs” installed the Goddess of Reason in Notre Dame Cathedral. The Enlightenment mind replaced God with reason, solving all human problems and remaking society along the lines of scientific, rational truth.
Trend Shaping Forces: (1) Rejection of history and the past in favor of Reason; (2) Institutions and traditions inherited from the past had to give way to Reason and Science. Religion, marriage and the family had to be supplanted by the state. The State became man’s vehicle of salvation; (3) The Christian doctrine of man as a sinner was abandoned. Man’s nature was neutral, if not good and perfectible; (4) The rule of society must be in the hands of the enlightened ones, the elite; (5) Basic to this view, faith is that man and society must be humanistic, not Christian; (6) Science must replace religion as the source of judgment and authority; (7) The Biblical view of sin and punishment are replaced with psychotherapy (see U.S. News and World Report, Dec. 10 1990 and March 25, 1991); (8) Conscription came in the French Revolution. The professional army is replaced with State created army and a hold on youth; (9) Foreign policy is given priority over domestic or internal affairs. Hitler, Bush and Gorbachev all spoke of a “new World Order.” The goal of politics has a world scope, not a local one; (10) The new god is man or Humanity, and the goal is “to be truly human” which means to be stripped of all religious and moral standard and faith, derived from supernatural revelation,” i.e., the Desacralization and Demythologization of reality; (11) The world’s economic problem is seen as one of distribution, not production (cf. entitlement, rights and welfare); (9(12) Power is centralized in the State; (13) Reality is seen as basically impersonal, ruling out the Christian God, Creator, Redeemer; (14) The new established Church becomes the State School; (15) There is an increasing control over private property and a virtual confiscation by local and federal taxation, the “goal of the illumination.”
According to Rudolph Sohm, “The goal of ‘The Illumination’ was this: “A natural law, a natural state and a natural religion shone as the great ideals on the intellectual horizon and carried away the world of the 18th century in a movement of passionate endeavour. These battles prepared the way for the rise of modern humanity.” Rudolf Sohm, Outlines of Church History (English translation by Macmillan and Company: London, 1895, pp. 198-200) states that “The great practical results of the Illumination were the destruction of the Jesuit Order, the foundation of the omnipotent authority of the state, and the idea of toleration.”
Enlightenment Presuppositions Enter Western Thought
“The university as a phenomenon of Western culture was from the very beginning a pagan institution.” (Eta Linneman, author of Historical Criticism of The Bible, Methodology or Ideology? (Baker, English translation, 1990). In the European universities where the foundations of Scolasticism, Humanism, the Enlightenment, German Idealism, etc., began, the education system became even more deeply rooted in the image of man taught by classical antiquity. The Free Mason, Wilhelm von Humboldt, played an especially strategic role in this development. The pagan presuppositions of European universities are brilliantly characterized by Eta Linneman in the following characteristics:
“The die was cast--(1) after the Middle Ages resorted to pagan philosophy as the means of gaining intellectual orientation; (2) after humanism declared man to be the measure of all things; (3) after the Enlightenment had decided to acknowledge as truth only that which has been arrived at inductively; (4) after the starting premise of Descartes had gained acceptance, according to which the only possibility of verification was through conferring validity to doubt; (5) after Lessing; in agreement with Reimarus, had proclaimed the “ugly ditch” between “contingent facts of history” and “eternal truths of reason” and made popular through Nathan the Wise the idea that no one can say what he true faith is; (6) after Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason and his conception of Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone began to gain acceptance; (7) after Goethe’s Faust implanted in every cultured person the idea that “our view is barred. . .from seeing spiritual reality” and what--according to the exchange between Faust and Gretchen--one should think of religion; (8) after Schleiermacher had drawn the consequences from Kant’s criticism of reason and attempted to ground faith in human religious experience rather than divine revelation; (9) after Semler’s point of departure in criticism of the Bible, a result of Enlightenment philosophy, began to gain acceptance in biblical exegesis and (10) when an atheistic historiography had established itself.”
Scientific Trends Toward the Modern Culture
These presuppositions will develop into the seeds of the modern period that developed into classical liberalism or modernism. Ten crucial trends for this modern paradigm are: (1) the conservation of energy; (2) the kinetic-theory of gases; (3) the second law of thermodynamics; (4) the evolution of the earth’s crust and of the fossils found therein; (5) the stages of embryological development; (6) the principles of domestic breeding; (7) the sociological generalizations of Quetelet, Comte and Buckle; (8) Tylor’s Laws of Development of Primitive Societies; (9) Maine’s theory of the passage from status to contract; (10) the Malthusian Law of Population Growth (which Darwin said suggested to him the idea of the struggle for survival)
Four fundamental trends expressed in the Classical modern thought are the complete animality of man, the inevitability of progress, science, technology and education; the inherent goodness of man (contra sin, guilt and lostness); the perfectibility of man (man as creator of the new self, society, the global village and New Age monism). Three further crucial trends are the development from Baconian empiricism, to probability calculus, and from classical deductive logic to inductive logic. The cultural consequences of these trends produced the death knell to classical Christian assumptions (S.J. Jaki, The Relevance of Physics (Scottish Academic Press, 1992); Arthur Peacocke, Theology For A Scientific Age (Fortress Press, 1993).
Scientific Trends Toward The Post Modern Age
The following trends are foundational for understanding the revolution from the modern to the postmodern mind: (1) There is a world. The scientist has confidence in empirical perception. (2) The world is made up of a basic matrix in which events take place. Bodies are only observational events without or with a conscious observer. (3) There is no Euclidean absolute space. Space is three-dimensional and relative to an observer. (4) There is no absolute time. Time is the fourth dimension of events, necessitating a Riemannian multidimensional universe rather than the tree-dimensional Euclidean universe, though Euclid is valid enough for events on our human plane. (5) The gravitation of Newton is not an attraction but acceleration caused by the only movement possible in the universe, curved movement. But the equation still remains F = K Mm/d2 to a close approximation. (6) No body is at rest. All are in motion. (7) Energy is proportional to mass and mass is proportional to energy. According to the Newtonian image, a body in motion possesses an amount of energy equal to one-half the mass of the body multiplied by the square of its velocity. In the Einstein image even a body at rest possesses energy, called rest energy, which is given by the formula E - mc2, which is the velocity of light. The speed of light is the observational absolute. Also, m-E/c2. (8) Movement is not merely spatial. Mechanism cannot explain the universe as a whole. (9) The matrix of the universe is a field, quite real, though “immaterial.” It is a continuum, knowable by four interdependent dimensions of time and space, finite and unbounded, studded by movement, and where two world lines of movement intersect, a material event is achieved to be recognized by an observer as mass or energy. (10) The absolutes in the system are: empirically, the speed of light, approximately 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles); philosophically the space-time continuum, which is the condition and limit of events. The system is wrongly called “relativity,” because it is a search for sure absolutes. (The absolute of light is presently being challenged at the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies and the Space Research Center).
The Post Modern age is both good and bad news. Dickens’ words regarding the French Revolution apply to all periods of dislocation. As Christians, we must be in a continual process of “understanding the present time.” (Romans 13.11) As Reinhold Niebuhr declares in his work, Christ and Culture, in which he traces how the Church has related to culture, the Church has always had to confront its culture and to exist intension with the world. To ignore our cultural context is to risk irrelevance; to uncritically accept the receiving culture is to risk syncretism and unfaithfulness. Every age has been eager to please liberal theologians who have tried to reinterpret Christianity according to the latest intellectual and cultural fashion.
Once outside their Jewish milieu, the early Church was forced to engage their Graeco/Roman cultural context; Medieval Christianity was changed by the Muslim use of Aristotelianism; Enlightenment liberals had their rational religion and higher criticism of the Bible; Romantic liberals had their warm feelings (e.g. Schleiermacher’s “Feeling of absolute dependence”); Existential Liberals, by which we mean they were anti-language, logic and history, had their crisis of meaning and leaps of faith; there is now a Post Modern liberalism. The faithful Church has outlived each of these challenges!!
The Church’s encounter can be traced in the cultural maze of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and now our Post Modern 20th century culture. The end of modernism can provide the Church with resurgent power to engage the Post Modern era. But lest we forget, the Post Modern perspective has been empowered by a new secular ideology replacing the modernistic worldview. Like modernism, this Post Modernism is hostile to Christianity, but for different reasons. We must not identify “postmodernism” with “post modern” (Arthur Krober, Panic Encyclopedia, The Definitive Guide to The Post Modern Scene (NY: St. Martin Press, 1989).
Tracking Trends Toward A Post Modern Christianity
Christianity is surviving in our hostile Post Modern culture. The negative impact of the hermeneutics of suspension and the prophets of the demise of the Christian faith in both modern and postmodern cultures has been grossly over exaggerated. The Christian faith is well and very influential, while less so in the culture of its origin. The resurgence of Church growth in Africa, China and Russia are prime examples of this. We still must face a crucial question--Why is Christianity almost invisible in contemporary Western culture? Why is moral and intellectual relativism so rampant? (R. Chandler, Racing Toward 2001 (Zondervan, 1992).
“Although we live in the age of the mega Church and the Church Growth Movement, the percentage of Americans going to Church is about the same as in the 1980’s and Protestant membership has actually declined.” This statement comes from Michael Horton, author of a recent work entitled Power Religion: The Selling Out of The Evangelical Church (Moody Press, 1992).
Christians must face Post Modernism rather than succumbing to Post Modernism plaguing the rest of culture while many “conservative Christians” avoided the consequences of “modernism.” Many Christians are naively going into the new cultural climate. The Post Modern society is highly segmented (cf. multiculturalism gender bias, etc.). In our segmented Post Modern culture there is no reason for universal consensus to form self-contained communities. Christianity has been excommunicated from the culture at large, systematically excluded from the home, schools, intellectual establishment and the media. The Church cannot remain in the security of the “Christian ghetto.” Often there is little difference between Christian institutions and those shaped by Post Modern values (cf. Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, Blacks in Harlem being shut out of the mainstream in the 1920’s).
Many of us agree with Charles Colson who criticizes the “feel good theologies” of hot tub religion and the capitulation to popular culture of the “McChurch.” Consumerism in the Church, Colson says, dilutes its message, changes the Church’s character, perverts the Gospel and negates the Church’s authority. The Post Modern Church likewise faces the temptation to replace theology with therapy. Post Moderns have little time for heaven; they want health and wealth now. Since Post Moderns are drawn to “power,” they will be drawn to power churches, which promise miracles to solve every problem, political clout, exponential numerical growth and success after success.
Many Evangelicals have not only sold out to consumerism but the theological megashifts of Post Modern ideology as well. These megashifts are away from classical Christian understanding to what is essentially Post Modernist understanding of the Gospel. Michael Horton explains the new theology through a series of contrasts: (1) Classical Christianity stresses the transcendence of God (immutability, omnipotence and omniscience). The Post Modern model stresses the immanence of God, who is dynamic, capable of change and in partnership with His creation. (2) Classical Christianity sees the whole human race as implicated in Adam’s fall. Sin is a human condition. Post Modern theology denies the universal fall (cf. Darwinian evolution). Man is not guilty (cf. sin and guilt after Freud). (3) Classical Christianity affirms that sinful man stands under the “wrath of God.” The Post Modern model teaches that man’s condition is caused by “ignorance”--we do not know how much God loves us (cf. Post Modern universalism via a process God (Christ). (4) Classical Christianity teaches that there is no salvation apart from faith in the atoning work of Christ. The Post Modern theological model teaches that we are all “Christians anonymous.” No one is lost (Christian, non-Christian, Atheist, et.al.). (9(5) Classical Christianity teaches that the eternal state is immortality in either heaven or hell. The Post Modern theology teaches that there is no heaven or hell; that only the human condition can be self transformed by science, technology, education, etc.
The Post Modern model reflects a denial of “absolutes,” distrust of Transcendence, preference for dynamic change over “True Truth,” desire for religious pluralism so that peoples of other cultures and religions are saved, the rejection of God’s authority over us, the mode of tolerance, warm sentiments, and pop psychology. Our Post Modern culture challenges the very possibility of the “Christian Gospel” (Acts 4.10f; I Cor. 1.10ff; Rom. 1.44ff.). (6) Evangelism/Mission according to this model, does not involve proclaiming God’s judgement against sinners and His gracious offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Rather, evangelism simply educates people as to how much God loves them. In the Post Modern maze God is turned into a therapist. It is essentially a teaching of moralism and despair, focusing on human works. We read in Galatians 2.21, “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” In Gal. 1.6-10, the scripture warns against trying to please men by deriving some other gospel. Post Modern theologians call people to jump on the latest ideological bandwagon.
Evangelical Bible studies and prayer groups suddenly have a new resource for Post Modernist, with their fondness for support groups and the cultivation of group identity. Post Moderns are open to popular culture and commercialism. Art, politics and ideas lacking connection to objective reality, are all pitched to the taste of the consumer. Rhetoric and mass-marketing replace rational persuasion. Post Modernism encourages a consumer mentality, catering to what people like and want. When truth is no longer a factor, one chooses a religion like any other commodity--do I like it? Does it give me what I want?
Charles Colson tells about an evangelical Church that decided it needed to grow in membership. The minister first commissioned a market survey. The results altered Church architecture, then religious symbols, then use of theological language. This minister and Church adjusted its teaching to the demands of the marketplace, the Church embarked on a journey to Post Modernism. The Post Modernist culture becomes a “therapeutic culture” i.e., based in psychological well-being, not truth, is the controlling idea.
The Post Modern alternative seeks to build without a foundation. A fundamental presupposition of Post Modernism is that it is “anti foundational,” according to David Harvey in his book, The Condition of Post Modernity (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1989). How can the Church claim to have one exclusive foundation in an age in which all foundations are being trashed? Classic Christianity argued about what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. Today people dismiss the very concepts of morality and truth. How can the Church preach the Gospel in such an age? How can we proclaim the Gospel to people who deny that they are sinners and think that everybody is saved!
The Church must be Post Modern without being Post Modernist! The Church must avoid as much as possible splitting off into our own subcultures. Post Modernists claim that since there can be no universal consensus, people who snare a language and a worldview must form their own self contained communities. Post Modernist rejection of “objectivity” often pervades the Evangelical Church (cf. Restoration Hermeneutic in our Post Modern culture).
Revolution in Western Science: Foundations for Post Modern Culture
What are the fundamental scientific assumptions of our Post Modern culture? The following ten trends are crucial for understanding our cultural maze. (1) There is no scientific certitude. Atomic physics found that the behavior of particles is considerably unpredictable. This suggests the collapse of absolute determinism even in the world of matter. (2) The illusory nature of the ideal of objectivity. In quantum mechanics the very act of observing alters the nature of the object. “As it really happened” is an incomplete statement in the world of matter. (3) The illusory nature of definitions. It may be that the habit of proposing new terms suggests that illusion of the mind that tends to substitute vocabulary for thought, tending to believe that once we name or define something we have “got it.” (4) The illusory nature of the absolute truthfulness of mathematics. The absoluteness of mathematical truth was disproved by Godel’s famous theorem in 1931 but even in the 20’s physicists were asking themselves this uneasy question. (5) The illusory nature of “factual” truth. Heisenberg states that “there is only one kind of matter, but it can exist in different discrete stationary conditions.” (6) The breakdown of the mechanical concept of causality. There is simply no satisfactory way of picturing the fundamental atomic processes of nature in categories of space and time and causality. (7) The principle importance of potentialities and tendencies. Quantum physics brought the concept of potentiality back into physical science--a rediscovery, springing from new evidence, of some of the earliest Greek physical and philosophical theories. (8) Not the essence of “factors” but their relationship counts. Modern physics now admits, that important factors may not have clear definitions but these factors may be clearly defined with regard to their connections. (9) The principles of “classical” logic are no longer unconditional. New concepts of truths are recognized. Pascal wrote that “men fail to imagine relation between two opposing truths and so they assume that to state one is to the other.” After all is said, logic is human logic, our own creation. (10) At the end of the Modern Age the Cartesian partition falls away. Descartes’ framework for partition of the world into objects and subject, no longer holds.
Tracking Trends in Education
“Whoever rocks the cradle rules the world.” Powerful groups are lined up to empower the government, rather than parents, to rock the cradle. The Book of Deuteronomy places the family as responsible for educating the child. Classical Greek education was radically conservative. At the turn of the 20th century an educational paradigmatic revolution occurred through the influence of John Dewey. Dewey admitted he was influenced by Huxley, Darwin, Bacon and Democracy. The resultant educational pluralism should be self-evident. The second educational revolution resulted from the influence of Spock. Some of the consequences of his influence are the nondirective education and the omnipotent generation. Only a Christian worldview, which entails a necessary relationship between God and man, as created in His image, and language as a gift from God, rather than an evolutionary despot, can address our cultural communication chaos.
Educational results of the passage of “Goal 2000” or Bill HR60-(1) The control of education in the United States moves to a federal level and beyond the grasp of parents; (2) As a result of this bill, schools are pushed toward the radical philosophy known as Outcomes Based Education or OBE or Mastery Learning defined by the National Education Association (NEA). Its goal is to remove the classical approach to science, mathematics and literature in favor of obscure outcomes such as “problem solving,” “effective communication,” and “appreciating others.” In other words, basic skills are on the way out! (3) Parents will get no assistance in paying for the school of their choice; (4) Legitimate concern for family privacy with the provisions of the new legislation; (5) “Goal 2000” opened the door to school health clinics and wide distribution of sex education and condoms to adolescents (cf. schools have greater access to Title X--this funding was shut down during the Reagan and Bush administrations but was reauthorized by Clinton); (6) “Goals 2000” creates costly new levels of bureaucracy including a national education Goals Panel, A National Education Standards and Improvement Council, and National Skills Standard Board. These newly created boards, panels and commissions will be staffed by federally appointed liberals who can be counted on to increase government inference and experimentation with the nation’s schools. The issue is not outcome-based education--the issue is, whose outcomes? The HR6 bill passed in the middle of the night on March 26, 1994 while most Americans slept. We are engaged in a new civil war of values in our Post Modern culture during the last decade of the 20th century! (See William Bennett, The De-Valuing of America and Os Guinness, The American Hour).
A battle in the Illinois General Assembly (1993) exposed the far-reaching goal of the public school system to bring under its jurisdiction all children beginning at birth, and without any procedure that gives parents the right of informed consent. If this bill had been implemented it would represent a radical departure from the classical Judaeo/Christian belief/behavior systems that the purpose of our taxed financed school system is to educate children starting about age six or seven. Pro-family groups won a big victory over the public school lobby when they defeated the Parenting Program SBI59.
Concerned Christians must both be informed and hold the legislators accountable. The federal Department of Education should be closed. Education should not be controlled from Washington, D.C. Congress needs to withdraw from the arena of education. The NEA should become less influential and powerful. The Association of American Educators is our sole voice for classical Judaeo/Christian values and the family. Gary Beckner is the executive director of the AAE in Fiejo, California. School based health clinics and distribution of contraceptives on campus should be banned. School based health clinics should be separated by gender and designed to emphasize the fundamental principles of morality, abstinence and responsibility!
The Political Maze: Chaos Politics and Morals
Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Lee vs. Weisman case, public school administrators around the country are still struggling with whether or not to allow prayer at high school graduation ceremonies. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims that the Supreme Court has banned all prayer at graduation, while the American Center for Law and Justice says student led initiated prayer at graduation is constitutionally protected speech. There are three fundamental questions that are most commonly raised regarding religious expression in schools during graduation--(1) Are schools required to prohibit graduation prayer? The answer is NO! (2) Can Valedictorian/Salutatorian addresses include religious remarks? The answer is YES! In a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case, Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District, the court said that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school house gate.” School officials are forbidden from censoring student speech based on its content. (3) Can community groups sponsor religious Baccalaureate services? The answer is YES! The services are constitutional if they are sponsored by the community or student groups.
Since these areas of research are both crucial and extremely demanding we will note just a few legal decisions made since President Bill Clinton was elected: Mr. Clinton received a letter (1.8.93) signed by 51 members of Congress whose essence stated, “We are writing to express our support for an executive order ending the ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the armed forces.” On 2.1.93, the Washington Post’s front-page story referred to members of the religious right as “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.” Only Christians could be characterized in such politically incorrect terms in our Post Modern culture. Mr. Clinton nominated Roberts Achtenberg, an avowed lesbian activist, to a prominent position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 9.4.93 Mr. Clinton moved money for the program for teenage abstinence into the safe sex program promoting condom usage. 10.30.93 the Girl Scouts decided not to require allegiance to God in their oath. In late December of 1993, Mr. Clinton began stressing the importance of family values as the year drew to a close. As the year ended, the Government was promoting abortion on demand and an entire litany of “politically correct” causes. Prayer is the only answer to our terrible problems (cf. some consequences of Post Modern influence are abortion on demand, condom distribution, sex education, gender bias, multiculturalism, redefinition of the family, homosexual marriage, influence throughout art, literature and media).
Some paradigmatic shifts in the religious sector: This is a cleric dominated society; the society is going from churched to unchurched; from discovery to discernment; there is denial of the ultimate truth and true truth of the Bible; the moral standards are chameleons; there is bonding versus belonging; the illusion of wealth is disappearing; the cold war is over and the Pacific rim is rising; there is continual fascination with travel development with emphasis on neighborhoods and regional mentality; entertainment and the arts will be enjoyed only by the affluent and educated; there will be a return to grass roots and restriction of every aspect of organizational life; computers are changing the ways we treat knowledge; by the year 2001 one out of every four Americans will be non-white; the male dominated world is disappearing; the concepts of obligation and duty are being replaced with compassion and empathy. (See George Barna Report, What American Believe (Regal Press).
Because of the above trends, there is challenge and opportunity for ministry in the 21st century: there are open windows of opportunity for ministry; churches must unlock and retool themselves and act upon the implications of these trends for effective alignment of the physical, spiritual and social resources of humanity in the secular city and the global village. The congregations that resist or ignore these paradigm shifts will continue to die. Ministers who do not retool will work harder and become less effective. The fringe leader must look at the direction of cultural cracks to determine where the shifts are taking society. This calls for prophets of tomorrow, the fringe spokesman. If we fail to listen to these few who know we do so at our own peril (R. Finke/R.Stark, The Churching of America, 1992).
The Sons of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do (I Chronicles 12.32). Our most marketable commodity is Information! Social scientists have identified three distinct ages, which demarcate our cultural trek: (1) The Agricultural Age, (2) The Industrial Age, and (3) The Information Age. Roughly each of these ages span a period of time when families, work, and society shared essential qualities. The Agricultural Age spanned from recorded history to about 1860. During this time span approximately 90 percent of all workers were farmers in rural communities. The center of this period of social structure was the extended family. By the 1900’s, 25 percent of the work force was in factories; in the 1990’s only 15 percent of the work force is in the factory, according to the article, “Customer Satisfaction” in the Learning Network Magazine, Minneapolis, MN.
The Industrial Age covers the time frame from 1860 to about 1956. The context of the industrial factories was the city. The central unit was the nuclear family. The Information Age began about 1956 and continues to develop through the 1990’s. The main context of rapid increase in information is the world. The central unity is the fractured family.
Richard S. Wurman sketches the following trends of the information explosion experienced since the 1940’s from his book, Information Anxiety, Doubleday, 1989.
(1) Computers: “Between 1946 and 1960 the number of computers grew from one to ten thousand and from 1960 to 1980 to ten million. By the year 2000 there will be over 80 million computers in the United States alone. The number of components that can be programmed onto a computer chip is doubling every 18 months.
(2) Publications: “Approximately ninety-six hundred different periodicals are published in the United States each year, and about one thousand books are published internationally every day. Printed information doubles every eight years. A weekend edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in 17th century England, states Alan Toffler, in his book Future Shock.”
(3) Libraries: “The world’s largest libraries are doubling in size every fourteen years. In the 1300’s, the Sorbonne Library in Paris contained only 1,338 books and yet it was thought to be the largest library in Europe. In the 1990’s several libraries in the world have an inventory of well over eight million books each.”
(4) Periodicals: “The Magazine Publishers Association notes that 265 more magazines were published in 1989 than in 1988. Newsstands offer a choice to twenty-five hundred different magazines, cf. Wm. B. Geist, “Magazine Chaos: From Hot Tubs to Talking Birds,” The New York Times, May 20, 1987.”
(5) Reference Works: “The Pacific Bell Telephone yellow pages are used about 3.5 million times a day. There are 33 million copies of 108 different directories with 41 billion pages of information. The new edition of the Random House Dictionary of The English Language contains more than 315,000 words, has 2,500 pages, weighs 13.5 pounds, and has 50,000 new entries.”
It is evident that the information explosion is a vital challenge to the Christian Faith as a cross-cultural communication enterprise. We are threatened by “overload amnesia” (protection mechanism). One crucial result is “information cacophony.” Exposure to this proliferation of information has created a generation of “searcher friendly” audiences, both in the market place and the Church, which requires new models of ministry. Some of the effects of available data explosion are: (1) People have less free time and that makes it more difficult to witness; (2) People oppose change, resist making friends and are lonely; (3) People encounter so much information that they find it difficult to listen to more information. One of the results is the radical turn to visibility from audibility in both industry and the Church; (4) People cannot see the “big picture,” cannot tie the ends together or see how the pieces relate. This phenomena makes it all the more imperative to effectively communicate a Christian World View, i.e., an integrating perspective contra our Post Modern relativistic pluralism; (5) People hear more than they understand, forget what they already know, and resist learning more; (6) People don’t know how to use what they learn, make mistakes when they try to, and then feel guilty about it; (7) People know information is out there, have difficulty getting it and make mistakes without it. The consequences of this radical information revolution appears in new styles of preaching, teaching, worship, marketing, etc.. The Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago uses the “short drama” effectively.
The number of current articles regarding this problem of information are Rick Warren, The Saddleback Church Growth Manual (Mission Viejo, CA: Saddleback Valley Community Church, 1991); Larry Schmalback, “How Do You View The World?” The Light (Sept-Oct, 1991); Haddon Robinson, “Preaching Has to Change;” “A Culture of Achievement” Leadership (June, 1992); Russell Chandler, Racing Toward 2001; G. Martin and G. McIntosh, The Issachar Factor (Broadman, 1993); and my work, “The Church Encountering the Forces in Our Post Modern Culture.”
Trends in Leadership Models
From Servant model to the CEO (Corporate Executive Officer) and back to Servant model again. In the Secular City there are currently dramatic changes from a management model to a leadership model. This implies a fundamental shift from an emphasis on “how to do things” to an emphasis upon “what should be done” (from vision to strategy). This transition is now being facilitated at the corporate level in America, but unfortunately the megachurch model and institutional models in higher education are lagging behind through their adherence to a managerial hierarchical model. This new leadership paradigm is already available in the Bible, but it is being reintroduced into our culture through the Harvard Business School. Servant leadership is now in vogue everywhere except in the place from whence it came, Jesus Christ and His Church. Management prefers systems but leadership puts persons first. (See Robert and Jon Solomon, Up The University (Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Reading, MA, 1993); J.P. Kotter, A Force For Change (Professor at the Harvard Business School); Alvin Toffler, Powershift (Chapter on Bureaucracy Busting); Peter Drucker, Management in Turbulent Times; Joel A. Barker, Discovering New Paradigms of Success: Future Edge (NY: MacGraw, 1992); my work, “Changing Models of Leadership: From the Scripture to The Secular City.”)
Trends Toward Post Modern Theology
Catholic Critique of Pagan Culture/Moral Trends:
E. Michael Jones, editor of the Catholic Monthly magazine, Fidelity, set forth our fundamental Post Modern moral trend in his work, Degenerate Moderns. Dr. Jones is a politically incorrect Catholic who defends the classic Roman Catholic faith. His thesis in Degenerate Moderns is simply stated: “Modernity. . .is nothing but rationalized sexual misbehavior.” His premise is that the “intellectual life is a function of the moral life to the thinker.” He emphatically declares that “the attack on Western culture is an attack on Judaeo-Christian morality; it is an attempt to revoke the sixth commandment. The one goes with the other; culture rises with morality and it falls with it, too.” The war against Christianity began with the Renaissance, continued with the Enlightenment (after the interlude of the Reformation and Comte’s Reformation, and now seeks to complete the demolition of his faith. Jones exposes the prophets who subverted biblical morality (e.g., Blunt, Fish, Tompkins, Kinsey, Freud, Jung, Mead). The journey from modernism to Post Modernism begins with immoralism and ends in occultism (resurgent New Age monistic Pantheism). (Exclusivism ordered by Jewish/Christian viewpoints.)
The following concepts are a “Change in Agents” from Copernicus to Freud. Copernicus removed the centrality of man; Darwin believed in the complete animality of man (up from the apes); Marx believed that personal, social chaos was caused by alienation generated by socio, political, and economic dynamics; and Freud reduced religion to pathology, sin, and guilt. Its four fundamentals are moral relativism (which says that what is taught is dictated by culture, social location and situation), autonomous individualism (which assumes that moral authority comes essentially from within), narcissistic hedonism (which focuses on egocentric personal pleasure), and reductive naturalism (which reduces what is really known to what one can see, hear and empirically investigate). The malaise of modernity is related to the rapidly deteriorating influence of these values.
“We have a generation that is less interested in cerebral arguments, linear thinking, theological system,” observes Leith Anderson, “and more interested in encountering the supernatural,” from his work A Church for The Twenty-First Century (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1992). Consequently, Churchgoers operate with a different paradigm of spirituality. “The old paradigm taught that if you have right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching.” Not only is objective doctrine minimized in favor of subjective experience, experience actually becomes the criterion for evaluating doctrine (cf. resurgent New Age spirituality, Pentecostalism, Animism, Shaminism, etc.). Anderson, a major Church minister and Church growth consultant, says that ministries will increasingly have to deal with people who claim to be committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, classical Christianity and reincarnation. There is often no register that reincarnation is inconsistent with their avowed faith commitment. The new generation, Post Modernist generation, simply do not think in systematic terms. This down playing of doctrine and objective thinking helps explain why 53% of evangelical Christians can believe that there are “no absolutes,” as compared to 66% of Americans as a whole, as taken from The Barna Report. Many of the new generation can like the Scriptures, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, et.al. and Ms. Ferguson at the same time. This entails that their life styles can live with the “contradictions.”
The scriptures as well as classical Christianity have always been open to personal feelings and religious experience and this is a point of contact with Post Modernism, which has gone on to exaggerate the “role of subjectivity” beyond anything that a “hot gospelers” of the 19th century would ever recognize. The emphasis on commitment (decision) corresponds well to the Post Modernist mind set, which understand religion and morality in terms of choice, not truth. “Decision theology” must encounter the biblical paradigm of sin (“bondage of the will”). In salvation we do not choose God; He chooses us. We are saved by His grace, not by our “free choice.” According to scripture, the universal issue is not “how can I be happy?”, but “how can I be saved?”
The British anthropologist, Ernest Gellner, has studied the fragmentation of contemporary culture and how it needs, as all cultures do, a religion, an overarching worldview to provide values and meaning. He concluded that there are now only three religious alternatives: Post Modern relativism, rational fundamentalism, or religious fundamentalism. Gellner advocates what he calls “rationalist fundamentalism, a principled return to the ideals of the Enlightenment. Gellner believes in absolute transcendent truth, while agreeing with Post Modern relativist, however, in rejecting revelation and intellectual certainty. “Post Modern relativism,” however, Gellner finds almost contemptible. After a trenchant critique of Post Modernists, he summarily dismisses them. “To the relativist, one can only say, you provide an excellent account of the manner in which we choose our menu or our wallpaper. As an account of the realities of our world and a guide to conduct, your position is laughable,” (E. Gellner; Post Modernism, Reason and Religion (Routledge, 1992), pp. 216-219)
Post-Modernist relativism may be “laughable,” but it cannot be easily be dismissed. Gellner, while a confirmed secularist, is far more respectful of religious fundamentalism. Unfortunately, the particular brand of religious fundamentalism that he sees as having the most vitality is Islamic fundamentalism. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, therefore, Christianity’s greatest religious competitor. A militant, uncompromising Islam may emerge as the most potent Post Modern religion against which wish-washy relativists and eager-to-please Christians may prove impotent in their “seeker-friendly” mega churches. “We do not yet know what the future holds,” writes Diogenes Allen, writer of Christian Belief In A Post Modern World, “but it is clear that a fundamental re-evaluation of the Christian faith, free of the assumptions of the modern mentality that are generally hostile to a religious outlook, is called for.” (Louisville: Westminster, 1989, p. 25)
Thomas Oden believes that classical Christian orthodoxy will re-emerge in the Post Modern era. For Oden, the collapse of Communism marks the collapse of modernism (cf., at least the social/economic/political dimension. Oden describes liberal Protestantism as futile “Post Modern Christians, are all those who, having become disillusioned with the illusions of modernity, are again studying the Word of God made known in history.” (Thomas Oden, Two Worlds (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1992). The cultural and intellectual relativism of Post Modernism is incapable to confront the intrinsic weaknesses of modernity. As Christians we hope for the fundamental correctness of both Gellner’s and Oden’s analysis, but I believe both underestimate the presuppositions of the Post Modernists, whose ideas have now permeated the entire culture. The triumph of classical Christianity is grounded in God’s promise; therefore, we must face great opposition in an increasingly relativistic society. Both Gellner and Oden do call classical Christians to accept the death of modernism and to engage the new era by recovering our doctrinal and spiritual heritage. In order to participate in this journey to The City of God, we must engage the very nature of the scientific enterprise, which gave birth to the demise of both supernaturalism and the ontological grounding of “True Truth.”
Gellner sees some kind of “fundamentalism,” whether rationalistic or religious, as the preferable option (indeed the only option) to relativism. We must not forget that the term, “fundamentalism” is a relic of the dispute over “modernism.” Islamic fundamentalism, with its authoritarian mullahs and its hand-chopping austerity is not what classical Christians want to communicate about law, culture and the grace of God to our Post Modern world. The Churches that resisted Hitler, that first Post Modern state, referred to themselves as the ‘confessional churches.’ They confessed their faith against a syncretistic church and against the police state, taking their stand on the Word of God and Christian doctrine. Cultivating a “confessional Christianity” will be foundational for Christian witness in the “Secular City.” Paul’s unity of the Church ,which encompasses diversity (I Cor. 12; Eph. 4.10ff) seeks to synthesize “unity” and pluralism, but not the Post Modern variety.
Michael Horton’s plea for a return to Reformation theology and Thomas Oden’s project of recovering the theology of the early Church both amount to a call for a new Christian confessionalism. The Post Modern intellectual climate should theoretically make room for that. As David Harvey, a spokesman for Post Modernism, declares, “The idea that all groups have a right to speak for themselves, in their own voice, and have that voice accepted as authentic and legitimate is essential to the pluralistic stance of Post Modernism.” (“Totalize Chaos” Post Modernism: The Condition of Post Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1989), p. 11). Surely this includes Christian communities. Oden is surely correct in asserting that the Church is one of the few institutions that really is global, multi-cultural and multi-generational. Post Modern criticism of the supposed scientific and objectively historical Biblical scholarship, with its rejecting of the supernatural and its naturalistic speculations about the origin and nature of the Biblical texts is in fact neither objective nor scientific at all. The dismantling of Biblical scholarship is in process. Post moderns say that autonomous reason is inadequate. Language as a vehicle for delivering “True Truth” is crucial for confessional Christianity, while acknowledging that language does not exhaust God--it does not even exhaust man. Post Modernists say that meaning can only be determined from within an “interpretive community;” the Christian community is an interpretative community.
Christians can expect to be excluded by Post Modernists’ invocation of tolerance and pluralism as the culture becomes more and more lawless and brutal. In such a climate, will the Church shrink to a faithful remnant? Those who defend Post Modernism and those who criticize it agree that the essence of Post Modernism is that it is “anti-foundational,” cf. David Harvey, The Condition of Post Modernity and James Hunter’s, Cultural Wars. True Church growth, quantitative or qualitative, will not come through social science research and marketing technique, but as Tom Nettles points out in his book, A Better Way Through Revival (Moody, 1992, pp. 161-187), through revival and reformation, not through human ingenuity, but through the action of God. Along our journey through trends of our Post Modern maze, the Church must hold fast to its Biblical foundations. The Church must stand firm on the foundations of Christian morality and “true Truth.” Luther said, “The ultimate proof of the sinner is that he does not know his own sin. Our job is to make him see it.” This is also “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (I Timothy 3.15); the ultimate truth is Jesus Christ (I Timothy 3.16; John 14.6; see Charles Colson’s book, The Body, (Dallas: Word Books, 1992), pp. 183-200).
The Word of God anticipated the dilemma of our Post Modern age in the powerful question of Psalm 11.3, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Our entire journey to the Secular City has been engaged in destroying foundations and in trying to erect some new foundations on the rubble. Jesus spoke of foundations: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” He who rejects the foundation of God’s work, on the other hand, “is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Mt 7.24, 26)
Four fundamental losses in our Post Modern culture: (1) Humanism, the loss of the Judaeo/Christian God; (2) Secularism, the loss of shame; (3) Pluralism, the loss of “True Truth;” (4) Privatism/Narcissism, the lost of meaning. These influences present our greatest challenge in the last decade of the 20th century. Our race toward the 21st century must give further attention to these Trojan Horses. Two foundational epistemologies have been rejected by our Post Modern culture: (1) Cartesian Foundationalism has been transcended by Post Euclidean Geometry, and (2) a crisis in Inductive Logic (Empirical theories of logic and Positivistic Theory of Scientific Knowledge truth claims). Only the Judaeo/Christian worldview can constructively address our cultural trends. Our first conflict was the engagement of Church and State; our second “war” concerns the separation between Church and Culture.
Important books: George Barna, The Invisible Generation, 1992, and The Power of Vision (Regal Books, 1992). Gerald Celante, Trends Tracking (Time Warner, 1990). Wade Roof, The Generation of Seekers (Harper PB, 1993). Richard Tarnas, The Passion of The Western Mind (NY: Harmony Books, 1991). Trends Journal Newsletter; The Socio/Economic Research Institute, Salisbury Turnpike, Rhinebeck, NY 12572; the Institute of Globalnamics. George Barna, Research Group, P.O. Box 4152, Glendale, CA 91222-0152. The Rutherford Institute, John Whitehead, PO Box 7482, Charlottesville, VA 22906-7482; the Christian Research Institute (International) PO Box 500, San Juan Capistrano, CA 96293-0500 (Walter Martin); James Dobson/Gary Bauer, Focus On The Family, PO Box 350, Colorado, CO 80950; William Bennett, Empower America and The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.; Spiritual Counterfeits, PO Box 2418, Berkeley, CA 94702; The American Center for Law and Justice, PO Box 64429, Virginia Beach, VA 23467; (Law and Justice Journal of the Center); Trends Resources: Institutional Government Pub: World Resources 1990-1991; World Commission on Environment and Development (Oxford, 1987); T.H. von Laue, The World Revolution of Westernization (NY: Oxford, 1987); Paul Kennedy, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (Random House, 1993); CIA Handbook of Economic Statistics, 1990. Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC, 1990; Global Economic Prospects and The Developing Countries. World Bank, Washington DC, 1991; State of the Environment: A View Towards the Nineties, Conservation Foundation, DC, 1987; Statistical Abstract of the US 1990, US Bureau of the Census, DC 1990; Survey of Current Business, Bureau of Economic Analysis, DC July 1990; Trends in Developing Economies 1990, World Bank, DC 1990; World Development Report, 1990, 1991, World Bank, DC.
PLURALISM OF TRENDS IN OUR POST MODERN CULTURE
(Data from Multiple Sources)
1. Cleric dominated society - Laity dominated church
2. Church to unchurched society - Seeker/Friendly mode
3. From discovery to discernment
4. Denial of Ultimate Truth - Political correctness and the cloning of the American mind.
5. Moral standards are chameleons
6. Bonding versus belonging
7. Knowledge appropriation will become a factor
8. Illusion of wealth is disappearing
9. End of Cold Wars/Rise of Pacific Rim (Global economy, NAFTA)
10. Fascination with automobiles/air and travel development with emphasis on neighborhoods and regional mentality (cf. a Global Village
11. Entertainment and The Arts will be enjoyed by the more affluent and educated that were normally enjoyed by the masses.
12. Decentralization - return to Grass Roots - Restructure of every aspect of organized life.
13. Transmission/Reception of knowledge
14. By the year 2001 one out of every four American will be non-white, ethnic diversity, linguistic diversity, educational demands
15. Male dominated world is disappearing (cf. Feminist Revolution from the 1960s has reached the masses)
16. Characteristics such as obligation and duty are being replaced with compassion and empathy (cf. Genetic/Environmental determinism in our nation of victims
17. Challenge and Opportunity--our future is on the fringe (the future is our window of opportunity)
TRACING TRENDS TOWARD OUR POST MODERN CONTEXT OF MINISTRY
FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
1. New opportunities of future ministry.
2. New Leadership Models for our emerging world (from the CEO to discipleship--new Politically Correct “hot button” is mentoring)
3. Tracking trends (not as individual, private or autonomous issues, but as World View Paradigm Validation Structures)
4. The Church must unlock and retool themselves and act upon the implications (Vision and Strategies).
5. Churches that resist these radical intellectual/cultural shifts will become irrelevant and die.
6. Ministries who do not retool will work harder and harder and become less and less effective.
7. The shape of the future is always on the fringe of normality during times of paradigmatic revolutions.
8. Changes are so immense and so encompassing that no single Christian or congregation, school, etc., can be the change agent. Only one thing is certain--nothing is normal.
9. We cannot look to the Status Quo for clues to understand and address the 21st century in our global village.
10. Leadership in our times of radical change must come from people on the fringe of normalcy or else!
11. The Fringe Leader is often viewed as a maverick, but the maverick often points to the Way/Wave of the future (cf. Dostoevsky, The Idiot).
12. Ministry in the Secular City is most often the people who are not of the center but of the margin. Data from John Naisbitt/Patricia Aburdene, Megatrends 2000 (NY: Avon Books, 1990).
13. Global economic boom in the 1990s.
14. Renaissance in The Arts.
15. Emergence of free market socialism (cf. morality and democratic capitalism, greed, private enterprise, power struggles between industry and the unions).
16. Global lifestyles and cultural nationalism (cf. a Nation of Nations--entitlement syndrome (CLU), universal health care, etc.).
17. Privatization of the Welfare State: Resurgent Socialism, government solutions for our problems.
18. Rise of the Pacific Rim (Agriculture and High Technology).
19. 1990s the decade of women in leadership (Feminism is the religious “hot button”)
20. Age of Biology: What it means to be human, the Gene code, cloning of the mind, Darwin’s Origin of Species over 135 years ago, Darwin was talking about natural selection; now the issue is an unnatural selection and its spiritual implications.
21. Religious Revival of the third millennium (resurgent concern of Baby Boomers, Eastern religions, New Age Monistic Pantheism (Capra, et.al.), non-linear physics, resurgent millennialism in times of crisis.
22. Triumph of the individual (the omnipotent child, radical autonomy in rights movements. “By identifying the forces pushing the future rather than those that have continued the past, you possess the power to engage with your reality.” (New Age Journal) Knowledge if power! (Recent books to see: Leith Anderson, A Church for The 21st Century (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1992); Lyle Schuller, Strategies For Change (Abingdon, 1993); also The Seven Day A Week Church, 1992). The following trends are from the book 21 Bridges to the 21st Century by Lyle Schaller (Abingdon Press, 1993)
23. From low expectation to high commitment covenant communities.
24. From older congregations to newer churches.
25. From lower quality to higher quality ministries.
26. From congregations that concentrate most on Sunday morning programs to a seven-day a week schedule.
27. From smaller to larger congregations.
28. In the 1950s, the trend was from Roman Catholic to Protestant Churches; by the 1990s these proportions have reversed.
29. From congregations composed largely of members born before 1950 to those composed of the Baby Boomer/Post Boomer generation younger members.
30. From those of limited teaching ministry to those with extensive teaching ministry.
31. From churches that offer dull and boring worship services to those with exciting worship experiences (cf. my paper, “The Demise of Awe in Worship, Isaiah 6”).
32. From congregations with one chancel choir to those with 3 or 3 music groups in worship service.
33. From those who rely exclusively on the organ and piano to those with a band or orchestra or more varied range of instrumental music.
34. From congregations that use hymns written before 1930 to hymns composed since 1980 for corporate worship.
35. From ecclesiastical systems that place control over major policy, program and personnel concerns in distant places of authority to local control (cf. partial explanation for Catholic to Protestant migration, Restoration Heritage and local autonomy.
36. From Jewish to Christian.
37. From Churches with 12 to 20 minute sermons to those with longer sermons and longer worship services.
38. From congregations with little or no off-street parking to those with adequate off street parking.
39. From those without air conditioning to those with AC.
40. From those with modest emphasis on mission to those that are organized around three crucial foci: Worship, Teaching, and Missions/Evangelism.
41. From non-Charismatic to Charismatic congregations.
42. From short pastorates to long pastorates in congregations.
43. From congregations organized almost entirely around “doing good” and often to the neglecting the spiritual needs of its members to churches with top priority to “obedience to Jesus” and the threefold command, “Feed my sheep” (John 21. 15-17). Some churches place a priority on responding to the religious needs of the self-identified seekers, searchers, inquirers, pilgrims, those on a religious quest. Church ministry must focus on a four-point sequence:
1. Respond to teenagers, who are on a quest for faith.
2. Emphasis on a strong teaching ministry.
3. Challenge sojourners to a strong Christian discipleship.
4. Send disciples out to do ministry (Mt. 28.18, Bk of Acts)
Many seekers prefer intimacy, spontaneity of small groups, leave complexity for simplicity, leave certainty for ambiguity. As we approach the third millennium, which bridge are you crossing? The Gospel must be “The Truth” that is also relevant to the sceptics, seekers, searchers, and pilgrims who will cross the bridges mentioned!
Tracing Trends Towards Re-definition of The Family
Post Modern politically correct challenges to the Judaeo-Christian view of the family: (1) Changing gender roles, (2) explanation of gender differences (genetic/environmental), (3) sociobiology of male/female; (4) feminist theories; (6) radical feminism; (7) redefinition of sex; (8) redefinition of marriage (partners vs. male/female); (9) parenting in our PC culture; (10) changing family images/roles in media from 1950 to 1990s (Orwell’s, 1984 (Big Brother, Newspeak) and all of Jim Dobson’s works).
Tracking Trends of Government Waste at TaxPayers’ Expense
“The federal government is the world’s largest power producer, insurer, lender, borrower, hospital system operator, landowner, tenant holder of grazing land, timber seller, grain owner, warehouse operator, ship owner and truck fleet operator. The Federal government owns and operates 436,000 non-military vehicles. It has over 17,000 computers, 332 accounting systems and 100 payroll systems (Larry Burkett, The Coming Economic Earthquake (Moody Press, 1994), esp. pp. 259-266); Citizens for a Sound Economy, Washington DC; Citizens Against Government Waste, Washington, DC, The newsletter, Government Wastewatch)
American taxpayers, however, allow their government to escape the discipline of the marketplace. The United States government handles some $6.8 billion a day in transactions. Government plus wide accountability is impossible. The Federal government has an annual cash flow of $1.7 trillion; however, cash management procedures are so poor that money sits idle in non-interest banking accounts, costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Some of the examples of what taxpayers are paying for (Sources: Citizens Against Government Waste, The Heritage Foundation and The National Taxpayers Union (the figures will vary each year).
1. $49 million for a rock and roll museum.
2. $15 million to Dartmouth College as a part of a job-creating program; 39 jobs were created at a cost of $324,685 each.
3. $11.36 million toward an $186 million project to turn Miami Blvd. into an “exotic garden for people.”
4. $566 million (rising to $900 million later in 1991) to send American cows to Europe to participate in an export enhancement program.
5. $500,000 to study the effects of cigarette smoking on dogs.
6. $107,000 to study the mating habits of the Japanese quail.
7. $90,000 to study the social/behavioral aspects of vegetarianism.
8. $219,000 to teach college students how to watch TV.
9. $25,000 to find the best location for a new gym for the House of Representatives.
10. $2 million to renovate one of the House restaurants.
11. $350,000 to renovate the House beauty parlor.
12. $6 million to upgrade the Senate subway system.
These represent a mere tip of the iceberg in government waste. Just one more trend in our Post Modern culture. These wastes (at taxpayers’ expense) mirror that we are living in a neo-pagan culture that expresses Humanism, the loss of God; Secularism, the loss of shame; Pluralism, the loss of True Truth; Narcissism, the loss of meaning.
(Origins of Immanent Explanatory Modes)
Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (Classical critique of the loss of transcendence in Post Modern culture) (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966, pb).
R.B. Mayers, Religious Ministry in A Transcendentless Culture (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1980); esp. critique of Alfred North Whitehead’s use of transcendence, pp. 129-131.
Herbert Richardson and Donald Cutler (eds.) Transcendence (Boston and Beacon Press, 1969, pb).
Diogenes Allen, Christian Belief in a Post Modern World (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1989).
Leith Andersen, A Church for the Twenty-First Century (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1992).
Steven Connor, Post Modernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary Culture (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989).
Ernest Gellner, Post Modernism, Reason and Religion (London: Routledge, 1992.
David Harvey, The Condition of Post Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1989).
Michael S. Horton, “What is the Megashift?” Modern Reformation (Jan/Feb, 1993).
William Hull, “Is the Church Growth Movement Really Working/” Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church, Michael Horton, ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992, pp. 139-159).
Roger Lunden, The Culture of Interpretation: Christian Faith and the Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, MN: Eerdmans, 1993).
Neil Postman Technology: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (NY: Vintage Books, 1993).
Lyle Schaller, 21 Bridges to the 21st Century (Abingdon, 1993).
Lyle Schaller, “Megachurch” Christianity Today (March 5, 1990, pp. 20-24).
“BRING THE BOOKS”: World Shaping Works for the Post Modern Culture
Abbott, Elwin A., Flatland (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1963).
Ayer, Alfred J., Language, Truth and Logic, second edition (NY: Doves Pub., 1952)
________. (ed.) Logical Positivism (NY: Free Press, 1959).
Barrett, Wm., Irrational Man (NY: Doubleday, 1962).
Bell, Daniel, The Coming of Post Industrial Society (NY: Basic Books, Inc., 1973).
Berger, Peter, A Rumor of Angels and The Sacred Canopy (NY: Doubleday, 1967 and 1970).
Berger, Peter and Thomas Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality (NY: Doubleday, 1966).
C. Bronowski, Science and Human Values (NY: Harper and Row, 1959).
Buber, Martin, I and Thou (Anti Positivism) sec ed., paperback.
Campbell, Joseph, The Power of Myth (NY: Scribner and Sons, 1958).
Cox, Harvey, The Secular City (NY: MacMillan Co., 1963).
Ellul, Jacques, the Political Illusion (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967)
Ellul, The Technological Society (NY: Random House, 1964).
Feibleman, James, Foundations of Empiricism (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff).
Burrus, Daniel, Techno Trends That Will Revolutionize Our Lives (Harper Business Journal).
Ferguson, Marilyn, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles: J.Parcher, 1980)
Flew, Anthony (ed.) Logic and Language (NY: Doubleday, 1965).
Gilkey, Langdon, Naming the Whirlwind (Indpls: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969)
Gilkey, Religion and The Scientific Future (NY: Harper & Row, 1979)
Hoffer, Eric, The True Believer (NY: Mentor Books, 1951).
Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World (NY: Harper & Row, 1958).
Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (NY: Harper & Row, 1958).
Jaki, Stanley--All of his works (See my critical paper on his critique of the Sociology of Knowledge and my paper “Kuhn’s Theory of Paradigms.”)
Kuhn, Thomas, Structure of Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1972 edition).
Lewis, C.S., The Abolition of Man (NY: MacMillan Co., 1947).
Marcuse, Herbert, One Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964). He traces the demise of Transcendence. Also, Reason and Revolution (Boston: Beacon Press, 1941-1960)
McLuhan, Marshall, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1962).
Munford, Lewis, The Myth of The Machine (NY: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966).
Naisbitt, John, Megatrends 2000 (NY: Avon Books, 1990).
Naisbitt, Megatrends (NY: Warner Books, 1982).
Orwell, George, Nineteen Eighty Four (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1949).
Polanyi, Michael, Personal Knowledge Towards a Post Critical Philosophy (NY: Harper & Row, 1970).
Robinson, John A.T., Honest To God (Philadelphia: Westminster, ‘63)
Rozak, Theodore, The Making of The Counter Culture (NY: Doubleday,1969).
Ryle, Gilbert, The Concept of Mind (NY: Barnes and Noble, 1949).
Schilipp, Paul A., ed. The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (NY: Tudor Pub., 1941).
Snow, C.P., The Two Cultures and Scientific Revolution (Cambridge, 1959).
Toffler, E., The Third Wave (Cambridge University Press, 1960).
Urmson, J.O., Philosophical Analysis: Its Development Between Two World Wars (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956).
Vahanian, Gabriel, The Death of God (NY: George Braziller, 1961).Also, Wait Without Idols (NY: 1964).
Van Buren, Paul M., The Secular Meaning of The Gospel (NY: MacMillan, 1963)
Vieth, G.E., Post Modern Times (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994).
Williams, Colin, Faith in a Secular Age (NY: Harper & Row, 1966).
Wisdom, John, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (London: Basil Blackwell, 1957).
Zuurdeeg, W.F. An Analytical Philosophy of Religion (NY: Abingdon Press, 1958).
Dr. James D. Strauss
Lincoln Christian Seminary
Lincoln, IL 62656