Summary: The gospel of Christ remains powerful even in a postmodern society. (Three sermons)
TO AN AMERICAN POSTMODERN SOCIETY
A three part sermon series
based on the Mars Hill discourse
© 12-2000 by Mark Beaird
PREACHING CHRIST TO A NEW WORLD
© Mark Beaird
Text: Acts 17:16-21
Are you familiar with the term Postmodernism? If you are not familiar with the term then you probably are not aware that the church world is being greatly affected by its impact. First of all, let me assure you that I have no desire to get into a technical discussion about postmodernism. But it is important for us to have an understanding of all that is affecting our work for the Lord. To begin with let us try to simplify the meaning of it all.
Stanley Grenz, a professor of theology (at Carey and Regent College in Vancouver, BC) and author of the book, A Primer on Postmodernism, has used the TV shows Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation to point out these differences adeptly.
Modernism, Grenz says, is like Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series. He was part Vulcan and part human. Yet he always wanted to be more like his emotionless Vulcan side. Didn’t he? He was a man who wanted to be more like a machine.
Mr. Spock, an example of the modern man longing for more productivity and for empirical, scientific proof of reality. A fair description perhaps of the generation which produced the industrial and technological revolutions and the individualism which has characterized our country for nearly 200 years.
Postmodernism is like Data, the machine in Star Trek: The Next Generation who wants to be a man…who wants to feel and love and experience reality—not just know and analyze it.
Identifying perhaps more with Data, young people today feel more like machines who don’t know how to have relationships but desperately long for them and for a sense of community which most of their families did not provide.
Modernism is like Captain Kirk going out to conquer and subdue the “final frontier, where no man has gone before.” Postmodernism is like Captain Picard guiding his politically correct crew through space and helping to solve conflicts without stepping on anyone’s toes. Not conquering, but reconciling and making the galaxy a safe place.
Most young people today have been trying to avoid conflict all their lives, trying to keep peace while growing up in often divorce ravaged homes and emotionally scarring families.
In a sense, this is Postmodernism: a different, subjective, experiential way of looking at the world, and a deep skepticism which does not believe in moral, absolute or universal truths.
Can you begin to see the difficulty of doing a traditional approach to church for a very untraditional generation?” (Zafren 4)
If we hope to relate Christ to our world we must understand the changes that have come to America in the “Postmodern” era.
I. WE MUST BE AWARE THAT WE ARE LIVING IN A POSTMODERN SOCIETY (vv. 16-17).
A. American is detached from any common devotion (v. 16).
In Paul’s experience in Athens’s he saw a city filled with idols and given over to idol worship. This would indicate that polytheism was rampant. One does not have to look for long to find that America has fallen to the idols as well.