Posts tagged Final events
Enigma (part 6): Death to Ism
photo credit: Keoni Cabral via photopin cc
Welcome to Enigma 6, the last post in the Enigma series. In this series I have attempted to engage the mind of Christians with the challenges and opportunities we have in reaching the post-modern community. I have not attempted to be exhaustive or unique in my posts, but simply to share some thoughts and observations that have been percolating in my mind since arriving in Australia and observing secular/ post-modern challenge the church faces here. Today marks the end of Enigma and to top it off I want to highlight in a more detailed way the challenges the church is facing and then look at those challenges in the light of eschatology (last day events). 

Reaching the culture for Christ has always been a challenge. Post-modern or not, the human love for sin and our susceptibility to Satanic delusion has always made us anti-God. As a result mankind has always been difficult to reach. Just read the story of the flood (Gen. 6) which introduces us to Noah who preached (2 Pet. 2:5) for many years with the help of Christ himself (1 Pet. 3:19) and never gained a single convert. The challenges the church is facing today are nowhere near as bad as they were in Noah's day. While post-modernism may be a difficult worldview to counteract Noah had to preach to a world in which "every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (Gen. 6:5). After many years of preaching the end result was that not a single person listened to Noah. None of them cared.

And take a look at Jeremiah who was sent by God to prophecy to Israel. Israel had become to enamored with its sin that the people were unwilling to repent. After dedicating his entire life to serving God and trying to reach the people the end result was that "they did not listen or pay attention..." (Jer. 44:5). Jeremiah felt like such a failure that at one point he even quit. Although he eventually recommitted his life to God's cause his mission was, by human standards, a failure. He called a rebellious people to reconnect with God and in the end, none of them cared.

The same can be said of Jesus who was condemned and crucified by the very people he came to save, and the apostles all of which died a martyrs death (besides John) because people didn't want to hear what they were saying. And all throughout history Christians have been persecuted, imprisoned, and killed by those who wanted nothing to do with God. We have always been the minority. Nothing has changed.

After the persecutions subsided the pre-modern church emerged. The pre-modern church also faced incredible challenges such as the dark ages, religious apathy, superstition, legalism, pagan philosophy, and biblical illiteracy. Then came the enlightenment era, the age of skepticism, and the liberalization of Christianity with concepts like the demythologization of scripture. Modernism, atheism, naturalism post-modernism, deconstructionism, and relativism have followed. And all throughout we have been challenged by the propositions of absurdism, nihilism, pantheism, asceticism, deism and countless other "ism's." All of these "ism's" have risen at differing points in history and presented monumental challenges to the mission of the church. 

But in Revelation John says something interesting. He says that "all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb" (Rev. 13:8). This beast, according to Revelation, is a religio-political power that will gain the allegiance and support of every human being on earth in the last days. Satan is said to work miracles through false Christs and false prophets (Mat. 24, Rev 13:14) that will gather the human race into a final, unified rebellion against God.

John's vision ultimately represents death to ism. Not every ism of course, and perhaps in some strange philosophical way not even death. But the reality is that as Satan begins his final campaign against God and his people he will have to somehow undermine many of the philosophies he has raised over the centuries to delude humanity. Naturalism and atheism will all but die in the wake of last day events and post-modernism, while it may retain some level of reverence, will nevertheless be abandoned by the vast majority. In order for the culture to embrace a religio-political power that claims allegiance to God while warring against him a certain degree of post-modern rejection will have to take place - especially in the realms of relativism and the rejection of meta-narratives.

So what does this all mean? It means that post-modernism, along with many other "ism's" will meet their demise in the face of the religious and miraculous events that will characterize the last days. When post-moderns begin to experience the reality of the spiritual war presented in scripture they will begin to deny the foundations of their philosophy. Unfortunately, at that time the experience will come not simply from a Cristo-centric worldview aiming at connecting man to God, but also from a rebelio-centric worldview aiming at placing its seal of rebellion upon the hearts of as many human beings as possible. Thus, super natural experience will serve to undermine relativism with the intent to maneuver believers from one illusionary worldview onto another.

The challenge this proposes to the church is, therefore, quite serious. Post-moderns crave experience. As a church we have been slow to provide this experience. We are satisfied with our dogmatic, dry, irrelevant, and robotic liturgies. As a result we are failing to speak the language of a generation that craves experience. And the longer we fail to provide them with a Cristo-centric experience the more Satan prepares to deliver his rebelio-centric counterfeit. We must, therefore (and in the words of Ellen White), "awake to the necessities of the time in which [we] are living" (Ev 70.1). While Bricolage? will dive more deeply into this, I would like to end Enigma with the following note: The church must recapture the experiential element it originally possessed in order to reach a generation that is burnt out on liturgies, programs, and irrelevance (all aspects of modern Christianity alien to the original church). In order to do this the church must do two things. Number one, it must rediscover itself in light of scripture and number two (and most importantly) each member of the church must rediscover his/her individual selves in light of that same word. 

As my father once said, "The main problem of a church is the main problem of the members of that church." If a church is collectively unloving, it is because the majority of the members are individually unloving. If a church is collectively cold, its because its people are individually cold. If a church is collectively irrelevant, it is because its members are individually irrelevant. If a church is collectively unable to give post-moderns the experience they seek, it is because the members are individually lacking in that experience. And if we fail to acquire and share that experience with this generation we will have set them up for the enemies forgery.

More to come,

Farewell Enigma.