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Representing Christ In The Postmodern World

Representing Christ In The Postmodern World
Author: Pastor Wilson Suwanto
Posted on: 2014-10-26 00:15:31

Some people used to say that we were living in the modern era with its ideals. And they were progress, freedom, rationality, objectivity, and science. They were thought to be attainable as civilization and culture developed. However, the outbreak of World War I and II, and the Holocaust proved otherwise: that these ideals are just Ideals; nothing more, nothing less. They are good on papers, but they cannot help humankind solve our problems. Some people believe that, in fact that these Modern ideals are part of the problem rather than being part
of the solution. If culture has developed into the mature stage, and civilization has reached the highest point in history, then why were there war and genocide (the mass killing of people on the basis of race and ethnicity)?


Since the end of World War II, people have been wondering about the world that they have been living in. The ideal of modernism has collapsed. The dream of one world, one culture, and one civilization has vanished into nothingness. In the past, some European thinkers were proposing to spread this ideal of one world and one culture through colonization (occupying and exploiting other people’s countries); for example, the Dutch colonized Indonesia, Britain colonized India, Portugal and Spain colonized Latin America. But, hundreds of years after the
beginning of colonization, the colonized countries, one by one, began to declare independence, and to renounce the culture of its resident imperialists. Once again, the dream of building one world and one culture has completely failed, and the world remains polyglot (many languages and cultures). This is just a general and historical sketch of what is known as the end of the modern era. Its failure include:


1. Regress in morality and human value.

Although modernism made tremendous progress in technology, it has failed in promoting humanity and morality.
Our world is seeing more and more poor people in the midst of our affluent world.

2. The failure of science to be a reliable guide.

Einstein’s theory of relativity is a revolutionary step in science that challenged the traditional concept of physics. As science progressed, comprehension of it is changing. What was true yesterday can be erroneous today.

3. The failure of reason to be the center of human life.

The modern thinkers believed that if everyone thinks, then all our problems will be solved. Solution lies within the power of the mind to generate ideas and thinking. This has also proven to be false and delusional. Blaise Pascal said: “The heart has its reasons, which reason knows nothing of.” What the renowned French scientist said is true. The emphasis on reason and rationality fails to do justice to the whole nature of humanity. Human does not consist only of mind, but also of emotion and heart.


These and other failures leaves modernism an unattainable ideal; hence is being abandoned by most people. In the midst of this vacuum, a new kind of atmosphere and mindset suddenly emerged. People disagree on what it is exactly but they do agree on one thing, namely, that this new phenomenon is called “Postmodern phenomenon.” Some understand it as the total rejection of modernism. Some see it as the revision of some parts of modernism. Still others believe that Postmodernism is a whole new idea. Whatever it is, one thing is clear: we live in an era after the modern era; hence the name “Postmodern” comes.


If modernism created problems, then postmodernism is creating bigger problems. What does this mean? Postmodernism rejects the possibility of an objective truth. There is no such thing as “it is true.” What is true is true to me or to you. Truth is not something that you can measure objectively. Truth does not lie out there. Truth is something that you prefer to believe to be true. If you feel that it is true, then it is true to you. It does not matter whether it is actually true or not. Postmodernism produces a relativistic mindset; there is nothing absolute.


Since there is no absolute truth, then the statement that “X is true” is meaningless. How do you determine that it is true? This creates a mindset of apathy. “Why should I care?” As a result, our generation is a nihilistic generation. They do not believe that there are values and meaning in this life. “No meaning” also means “no purpose.” Postmodern generation is losing confidence in “meaning.” More and more people today believe that life has no meaning.


Finally, the consequence of the postmodern beliefs is that the destruction of the concept of Self. What is self? Self
is me, and by extension is you. Since you and I don’t have meaning and purpose, then why should we care about what we think, what we feel, and how we act? This generation increasingly believes that there is no such thing as Self. They act on the basis of impulse and instinct. Some people call this generation as the generation of the broken self. They point to MTV as the prime symbol of this broken self. In MTV, you can see that there is no connection between one scene and the others. They are just put together without any logic or sense of coherence.
Why car about logic or coherence? There is No coherence; there is No self. “Just do it, and follow your gut instincts.”


In the light of this postmodern phenomenon, how should Christians live? How do we represent Christ in the generation that does not care; does not care for truth, meaning, nor even care about themselves?


There are several things that we can do to represent Christ in this generation:


People are tired with the slogan “Christ makes the difference” because they do not see it in the lives of those professing to be His followers. We can make Christ’s presence a touching reality in the lives of this generation through our exemplary lives. The ancient call still rings out clearly today: “Take up your cross daily and follow Me” (Mark 8:34)



Again, some people are offended by those who live a double life (Sunday — and other days of the week). Truth is not like a convenience store where people can come in and out as they wish. Truth demands a commitment, and
sometimes a painful one. By living a holy life, we can boldly proclaim that there is an absolute truth, and it is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we make a mistake, confess it. Do not bend God’s rules to suit our preference, but rather bending ourselves to meet His standard. By living moral lives, we can tell people that there is a moral law, an objective truth that demands our submissive response.



“There is meaning and purpose in life.” We should say this loudly to our friends. Christ has come to give people life, abundant life. Further, we need to show them that apart from Christ, there is no meaning. We should show to them that we care about them, and in this way, we are the extension of Christ’s helping hand to them. It is through our attitude – the attitude that if Christ cares – that people will feel the caring love of Christ. If Christ cares about them, they will care about themselves and about Him, the caring Shepherd.


Recommended Readings:

David Wells, Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005)

Heath White, Postmodern 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006)

Millard J. Erickson, The Postmodern World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002)