Thursday, August 19, 2004

Missional Church and Culture

This post is intended to be a portion of a series of blogs on the Missional Church model and the contemporary culture. At least I hope it will turn into a series of blogs. There is a lot to reflect upon and write about, and if this represents all I have time to say, then I must be pretty busy indeed (or I have grown weary of the subject).

To begin with, I am going to work from a premise I stated in an earlier post. I believe that part of the job of the Missional model is to exegete not only theology and Scripture, but culture as well. As a result of studious attention to the world around us, we will likely find areas of common grace between the world and the church and be able to utilize them in a manner faithful to the principles of orthodoxy. Additionally, as a “missions minded” enterprise we should also be able to discover those aspects of culture which are destructive to the human soul, strive to pull people out of the mire, and be an incarnational influence on the culture at large.

The first thing I would like to do is spend a few sentences in defense of this premise. Clearly this is a big-picture view of things and there is far more detail to be filled out under both thrusts of my premise. Theory guides and provides appropriate focus, but the leader in the local congregation has to put flesh on the bones. But let it be noted that good theory points people in the right direction just as bad theory points people in the wrong direction. We need good theory for the church. We need good and faithful thinkers (no personal presumption here, just a conviction) in the church. We need people who are not willing to lay down for the mental midgetry of our age.

I think it to be true that we live in an age that has become post-Christian and postmodern in a lot of significant ways, but it is always an error when people use that as an excuse to become post-Christian or postmodern themselves. The line between meeting culture in a useful and significant way and remaining faithful to the precepts of Scripture and orthodoxy is a notorious one, and will not be easily found. One might even argue that it changes with the times. Despite the difficulty of finding that line, however, it is a line which must be dealt with and talked about. To ignore it is death-in one direction or the other.

A major theme that will come out in many of my thoughts on this topic is that we should not hitch our wagons to the star of postmodernism. To continue the metaphor, it is a falling star. It is a philosophical and cultural model which is not only vacuous in many significant respects, but it is intentionally so. The metaphysical, epistemological and ethical skepticism of postmodernism is too deep for Christian orthodoxy. Additionally, the themes which are commonly seen as the plus sides of postmodernism make for interesting reflection in that when they are taken out of the postmodern matrix, we find them in other and better philosophies and theologies, and when they are understood within the matrix of postmodernism, they revert to unusable relativism and childish naïveté. How’s that for a charge? Hopefully these posts won’t do the same.

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