Friday, April 20, 2007

The Postmodern Process

I just finished reading "A New Kind of Christian" by Brian Maclaren. (Yeah, I know, I'm late getting around to it.) I have already read a couple of his books; in fact, it was Maclaren who helped me realize I've been postmodern for years. And after that, I went back and re-read some of Francis Schaeffer's books that I acquired in the 1970s; I found that he was dealing with postmodern issues before anybody had come up with the name for it. But unlike some, he didn't start ranting "Postmodernism must be stopped--it destroys our apologetic!" He just quietly adapted and found ways to talk to people where they were. He understood that all people are created in God's image, even if they themselves do not believe it, and should be treated with love for that reason. Because he believed that, he was able to reach out to all kinds of people, from teenagers to middle-aged ultra-liberal church bishops like James Pike. He was not always successful in bringing them to Christian faith, but he still did not "write them off" or indulge in hate.

Maclaren had a quote from a C.S. Lewis book that I had never read (it was a book on medieval literature, his professional field, not one of his "Christian" works). In this quote Lewis seems to note the differences between modern thinking and the medieval patterns, but then acknowledged that someday the modern pattern would be replaced itself. Whether he was aware that the process had already begun is hard to say, but at least he could distance himself from modernity enough to see the possibility.

And the change IS a process, not an event. The change from medieval to modern was a process too. The date Maclaren sets, 1500 A.D., is only a convenient approximation, just as 2000 is for postmodernism. (I would say that the first crack in the fortress of modern science was Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, in 1927--the first hint scientists had that they could not nail everything down; even Einstein didn't like it.)

Some complain that postmoderns are too negative, but that was true of the first moderns as they broke with the medieval traditions, too. Schaeffer was as aware of the faults of modernism as anyone--he had some negative things to say about it. In order to replace something, you've got to recognize its defects; then you can look for something better (or at least different).

I have to get to work--probably more on this later.

1 comment:

ded said...

I read MacLaren's A New Kind of Christian. Interesting to see you mention him and Schaeffer together.