While no doubt it will take the church many years yet to realise it, the postmodern conversation is over.

At least in terms of popular discourse.

Think, when was the last time you heard a non-Christian use the term? Posmodernity has been ebbing as a conversation topic for years. The paradigm shift was a 90s phenomenon, we’re well past the tipping point now, what’s here is here.

So, isn’t its time to stop talking about missional / emerging as a response to “postmodernity”? That just soooo dates us.

16 thoughts on “The Postmodern Conversation is Over

  1. I don’t think the conversation is over yet, mainly because so many, both in the Church and outside it still ascribe to the modernist mindset. If you define what postmodernity was you are doing well and that only leaves the question where are we now. Most of the reality of mission is doing the hard work of dealing with people where you find them. Macro analysis of society can be helpful but only to a certain extent.
    I think we are getting to a point where what we find is diversity. The collective mind of society as prescribed by the media has been weakened by the internet and looking at the trends among younger people who often prefer the internet to TV this will be here to stay.
    Mission can only be focused on the people you encounter. I know it sounds obvious but so much of the missional conversation seems to be about other things, particularly reacting to traditional or other forms of church. My reflection is that the people I’ve met outside churches aren’t particularly hung up on what model of church you run with but on how you treat them, or how well you do as a representative of Christ.

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  2. I don’t think that’s the case, besides, are we to be concerned about what dates us nowdays? looking around the church in Australia I still step back in time to a modern world view so many times, trying to interact with the people and open their eyes to the way the world really is is still a part of my everyday life.
    Sure, talk online about postmodernity etc has possible changed in the blogosphere etc, as people pick up terms like neo calvinism etc and rant about that, but this doesnt mean that the conversation has ended, just perhaps people assume so much is understood online…
    i don’t think we’re still talking about the church being a response to postmodernity (I’d argue it never was, and it was actually more a very-late response to modernity).

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  3. LOL I remember a few years back my pastor mentioning “post-modern” for the first time, and even then I was like, “didn’t everyone stop talking about this a few years ago?”
    If you really wanna know, I think we’re in the age of definition. Everyone wants to be defined these days, they create neologisms on demand. But as soon as something gains acceptance and traction in the mainstream, they are off chasing a new ideal.
    Supermarket spirituality.

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  4. Brett, I would seriously question how many are left in a virgin modernist mindset.
    Many students of religion have observed that both liberalism and fundamentalism emerged as responses to modernity, one adaptive, one reactive.
    Well, project that forward to today. What makes you think that new and improved fundamentalism is any less post-modern than the emerging church? Fundamentalism is shaping post-modernity, fundamentalism is being reshaped by post-modernity. The renewed militancy of fundamentalism, that’s part of the shift, whether we like it or not.
    Now, you said, “Most of the reality of mission is doing the hard work of dealing with people where you find them.” Well, where I find people today is not getting bogged down in discussions about post-modernity. The most incarnational thing we can do is to move on and accept the paradigm shift is behind us. I agree with you that people “outside churches aren’t particularly hung up on what model of church you run”. So the question is, why are we?

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  5. Darren, I am not denying that there is still waking up work to do, it just that these days I’d say its more about waking people up to Jesus than waking them up to post-modernity. Jesus was known for touching the untouchables. The first step towards encountering the world is to follow in his footsteps. Everything else can be learned upon the way. The problem with sleepy churches is not, primarily, that they don’t understand the world but that they don’t understand the world saviour.

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  6. In my opinion the cultural implications of modernism and especially postmodernism have barely begun to be understood, especially by conventional exoteric religionists, which is the only kind of “religion” that now exists.
    The book introduced in this reference provides a unique perspective on this theme.
    It gives a very sophisticated understanding of the relation between art and culture, particularly the influence of quantum theory/reality as signalled by E=MC2.
    http://www.artandphysics.com
    Plus the other books written by this author are also fascinating. Especially the book The Alphabet VS The Goddess.

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  7. “…exoteric religionists, which is the only kind of “religion” that now exists.”
    An extreme statement like that demands some extreme evidence John. And while you’re digging that up could I ask, are you saying Adi Da is exoteric or that Adi Da is nonreligious?

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  8. At some point, probably in about 2050, Theological colleges and writers of Christian books on the topic will catch on… then we might start using other words in an already out of date way!
    BTW for some folk I speak to culture simply passes them by!!!

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  9. last time I checked they were ranting about post, post, post, post,…-modernism on the new humanist website. Stuart Murray in his Post Christendom series book “Mission in a Strange Land,” and at many of his lectures that I have seen him give basically talks about Christians should necessarily be worried about post modernism, but our pimary concern should be post christendom, in my opinion because here in the West the church is becoming one voice among many. I was reading the Christianity today website and came across the Philip Jenkins article on a “Theology of Extinction,” not only because of the decline of the church in the west but its decline in Africa and elsewhere over the centuries.

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  10. I used to read the New Humanist Magazine a couple of years ago and would chat on their forums. Been a while since those days though.
    I am quite certain that most of you are familiar with christendom, but if not christendom was a result of Constantine’s edict of Milan which made Christianity a tolerable religion in Roman society after the decisive battle of the milvian bridge where according to two sources Constantine looked up at the sky and saw a cross with the words conquer by this. There are still debates about the accuracy of the account of both sources. So this is part of how the church has justified violence, witch hunts, and possibly even the holocaust which has far more to do with the extremely negative facets of evolution, but I only mention it because of the supposedly Christian countries that went up against each other.

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  11. Christendom was an institution around the Medieval Age where there was a tremendous amount of emphasis on imitating Jesus which is similar to today, walk through any good gallery and you will find all sorts of Christian art from this era or error which again is simliar to today. I think that Christians should get back to the root of Christianity which is the Person of Jesus Christ not just through doctrinal statements, but we must invite people to
    encounter the living Jesus Christ with us, and through us.

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  12. There are more kids in Hindu scripture classes than in Christian scripture classes in the local primary school near me. We don’t need any convincing that Christendom is dead. Christianity lives on, but Christendom is over for us.
    What I mean by my comments about post-modernity is that more and more its just the church talking to itself now. Most others have moved on. I think we should too. The church conversation about postmodernity is becoming increasingly like the Amish talking about the English, whether that be critically or enviously. Methinks the more enculturated and incarnational we are the less we should need to talk about postmodernity any more, at least when amongst other enculturated and incarnational companions in any case.

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  13. Or to put it another way … is the postmodern metanarrative in sore need of deconstruction? Has it become too reified? Has the conversation itself become a leadership propoganda tool?

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