Where the West is headed now, and how the Eastern Church might play a role
We are told the postmodern age is at last upon us and the so-called “modern” age is passing away. I, myself, am trying – with some degree of difficulty – to wrap my head around what this paradigm shift is all about – and the extent to which it is actually playing a role in society. Will it be merely a passing fad like the “Age of Aquarius” which many of our mothers and fathers hoped to see change the world? It seems rather obvious that one societal paradigm bleeds seamlessly into the next and in a way one gives birth to the next…but major changes takes centuries, perhaps even a millennium. Veith’s assessment that “modernism” began in the enlightenment of the 18th century seems to me to be abit shortsighted. Rather I would argue that it goes back much further than that…I’d say at least another 300 years…even more if we were to look closely at the history that shaped the very gradual division between East and West beginning from a relatively early date.
This introduces one amongst many facets of why postmodernism interests me so much. Modernism is a phenomena that exists almost exclusively in the western world and obviously I have in recent years come to be apart of a venerable religious tradition that has historically not been a part of any culture that embraced modernism. Consequently, some (and it is important that I note “some”) of the “hang-ups” that postmodernists Christians have with the Christianity of modernism (of the West, if you will) were generally not ever apart of the Eastern Church. When I became willing to abandon western Christianity, I had no idea there was actually a “postmodern” movement. I was simply a disillusioned Christian who came to hope that I could find “true” or “pure” Christianity by going back in time and seeing exactly what the early Church actually believed and taught. I saw very quickly that my current mode of thinking was inadequate to understand ancient Christianity and that many of my beliefs were flat out wrong – at least when compared to what they believed (and based on my criterion, guess who I came to accept was wrong?) It had become apparent to me that something was amiss in my “modern” understanding of the world and to some extent I see this(these) same something(s) as being generally recognized by today’s postmodernists. And so here I am, an American who was born and raised amidst modernist thought, trying to engross myself in an Ancient Faith that in many ways is utterly foreign – albeit beautiful – to me. As people today begin to see the failings of western culture, one must wonder to what extent they might look (or dare I say even walk) eastward to see (or dare I say even enter into) an altogether different Christianity – and by that I do not mean reinvent it. Have we not learned our lesson from the original Reformation’s attempts at reinventing Christianity?
“Postmodernism, like its predecessor, also attacks orthodox Christianity, though for completely different reasons. A new liberal theology is emerging--this time, ironically, among Evangelicals. But the postmodern age also presents untold opportunities for recovering the historic Christian faith.”
Now, I’ll not even mention the absurdity of the assumption that the historic Christian faith needs to be recovered, but sadly this does seem to be the foundational presupposition that has fueled and continues to fuel ever increasing schism and division in Christendom. I fear postmodern Christianity will make this same mistake. (Oops…I guess I did mention it.) That being said, I am intrigued to see exactly what this “new liberal theology” will inspire and the extent to which the postmodern shift will bring folks back to “historic Christian faith.”
We might well ask: what is historic Christian faith and how will we know when we’ve found it? A faith built solely upon the Bible you might say? Well, unfortunately this only represents a brand of historic Christian faith about 500 years old. Protestantism and many of its tenets (sola scriptura, sola fide etc) are actually a product of modernism itself and so trying to create a postmodern faith that still clings to so many protestant presuppositions will be little more than a newly dressed up Presbyterian, Baptist, Assembly of God, or _________(fill in the blank) church.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:12 PM [+]