You may not know it or acknowledge it, but as a Christian in a contemporary society, you have been impacted and influenced by postmodernism. Not only has it influenced you, but it has had a profound affect on the theology, orthodoxy and worldview of the church. Some attribute it to the devil and in some instances it is an appropriate attribution. But the truth is that we have given place to the devil,thus allowing him to incrementally introduce new concepts which, though not alarming in the immediate scope of things, are certain detriments for the church.
Let me be clear, there is no ultimate defeat in store for the church. That’s an impossibility, not to mention an oxymoron. Yes, we’ll lose some battles and we will experience seasons of oppression. There is persecution, judgment and discipline in store for the church, yet we are more than conquerors. The church is built on and housed in an indestructible force, the Lord Jesus Christ himself (Matt 16:18). As it is personally with the believer, so it is corporately with the church. Greater is he in us than he that is in the world.
To be honest, this is not new. As King Solomon bluntly stated there’s nothing new under the sun. The cycles of change are indigenous to the church; the seasons of growing, pruning and harvesting are embedded within our very fabric. Yet, within the context of what is and what surely is to come, there exists also a counter-intuitive resistance among us. It comes from satan, but but is allowed by God. I think that I understand it and then simultaneously it baffles even the most spiritually astute among us. Why does God allow satan to sow tares (or false converts) among true believers? Its like allowing a convicted rapist into a girls school. I do acknowledge the wisdom of God is far above the finite knowledge of man. I know (perhaps intellectually) why God intentionally hardened Pharoah’s heart, but then again why? Would it not have been easier and less confrontational to just soften Pharoah’s heart and cause him to release the Jews with goodwill?
The will to fight
It should be no surprise to us that our God is confrontational and so was Christ. And so should we be. Our mission as sojourns on this earth is to confront the wicked, God-hating systems and declare the sovereign will of our King. Of course, that will bring us into certain conflict with the emissaries of satan who have falsely positioned themselves as loving, benevolent, peaceful and justice-oriented. We shouldn’t be surprised to know that these individuals are not just in “the world” but they occupy positions of authority in the church. In fact, this is a desired place for them, because greater damage can be done from within than without. They despise the rule of God and are actively working to destroy anything that is created in his image and truly represents his holy nature. Remember the mythological tale of the fall of Troy? The city was impenetrable until the Greeks got inside through deceit. A disease isn’t particularly deadly until it gets inside your body.
Some do not grasp the entirety of Ephesians 6. Ours is a life of wrestling, struggling and fighting. It is not one of peace and unity. Those are goals, but they cannot be achieved on our own and without the headship of Christ. What’s more, there will be no true peace until every one of Christ’s enemies have been eternally vanquished. All other “peace” is the peace of the world which is at its root is God-less because they seek to achieve human unity without God as head. The UN is the perfect example of this.
Paul writes in Ephesians that saints “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. Its important to understand the interlocking revelations of this verse. Some pull out the obvious: that we cannot achieve the goals of the Kingdom fighting people. But even that is to be understood in its context. First, satan (and his hierarchy of demonic subordinates) are not disembodied spirits. They can only work through people. Thus, while in the broader context people are not the problem, we must not be naive to think that people are not a major element of the problem. This isn’t jihad or a crusade against infidels. Those are and were tools of satan against mankind. Our struggle is one of living, proclaiming and upholding the righteous rule of our God.
Secondly, we miss this salient truth in Ephesians 6. That is that we do wrestle. It does not say we won’t or shouldn’t wrestle but that wrestling is embedded in our mission. It is unavoidable and critical to the success of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Here is where postmodernist subterfuge inflicts its deadliest harm on the church. Postmodernism eschews the fight; throwing it in favor of faux unity. The trickle down effect of this imposition on God’s intent is why we see so many people unwilling to be hot or cold; right or wrong; holy or unholy. The middle is cast as a comfortable and safe place, free from conflict. And this is where the great majority of people in the church reside.
Moving towards so-called “non-judgmentalism” is actually moving away from the heart of Ephesians 6. Satan is tempting us to not fight. The prize is favor with the middle majority. While church leaders pander to this group using self-centered prosperity messages, social justice issues and feel-good church programs, satan unleashes hordes of false doctrines into the life of the church which result in an inner weakening of our walls. A weak church is a powerless church and a powerless church is ripe for redefinition.
Although former gospel industry worker, Tonex (Anthony Williams) is talented, his own unfortunate misappropriation of God’s will is an example of what happens when postmodernism overtakes one’s thought processes. When asked who listened to his music, Williams told the Daily News Tribune, “I have a strong gay and lesbian following, and I think this is because, there’s no judgment here. Usually gospel is gay bashed. With me it’s just, “God loves everybody.”
What Williams means is that not having a purely biblical worldview facilitates the least path of resistance if you want to influence crowds of people. Its particularly effective with others who see the absolutes of scriptures as “oppressive”, “intolerant” and “judgmental”.
United against false unity
The so-called “emergent church”, the prosperity gospel folks, the gay christian movement and other religious anomalies are byproducts of postmodernism. At some point, they will merge or become allies because they all are formed from the same ideology. Biblical unity doesnt just happen, nor is by man’s devices. Its defined not by physical inclusivity, but its unique spiritual exclusivity. Due to the obvious presence of double agents in the church, biblical writers needed to further define such unity (Amos 3:3, 1 John 4:1, 2 Peter 2:1). It goes without saying there can be no unity with the world because it will always be hostile to the will of God. Compromising biblical unity for expediency works against God’s plan. We are now fighting another infectious disease called diaprax, which espouses expediency above truth.
As God works both in and outside the eschatological clock, we are contending with the several streams of false teaching in the church. Our tepid, excuse-laden responses (if any) to divorce, homosexuality, greed, idolatry, adultery, sexual abuse and powermongering is telling. Do you think any rational person would prop up a dead, rotting corpse in their home and celebrate it? They would if they were convinced doing so is good. Thus what is evil is now called good and what is good is now called evil. Under divine inspiration, Paul showed us homosexual conduct represents the lowest digression of idolatry and rebellion against God. Yet people in the church celebrate and indulge this rotting corpse theology as if it were Genesis 1:1.
The cure to the curse of postmodernism is a strong return to the fundamental truths of God’s word. We’ve been inundated with all sorts of “revelation” from false teachers in the Body. But we need to return to basic principles and then hold fast. We should test everything and continue being vigilant against false teaching. We should not wait for a fight, but cause one. Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against our offense, but false teachers have turned the meaning into a defensive one. The postmodernist spins it into a defensive meaning forcing the church into a passive wait and see approach. It allows satan to advance his agenda while we stand still and “hold ground”. Militarily, that’s disastrous. Spiritually, its equally disastrous.
In my next post, I will attempt to answer some questions about postmodernism and the church posed by Bishop Jonathan Alavardo.
Graphic courtesy of Pyromaniacs