I’ve discovered that I’m Postmodern . . . whatever that is

A friend of mine had an interesting update on fb last Saturday.  There’s something called Walkmeter that displays the route he will be taking for his 5km walk. The update informs all of Perry’s friends that during his walk, all of the messages and comments will be spoken to him by Walkmeter. I was tempted to type stuff in like “Use the force Luke,” but opted for a more mature approach. I am familiar with the neighborhood designated on the map and comment that he should walk faster when approaching Kentwood Drive to avoid being tempted by the Shake and Steak restaurant that is nearby.

Having a map is a great way to plan your journey to follow the best route. It’s been difficult to nail down what postmodernism is because people have different explanations of it. One thing that is standard is the rejection of linear or formula-based thinking. Why follow somebody’s idea of the best way to do things when other viable suggestions could be followed?

Moderns are people who have a strong sense of loyalty and a commitment to hard work that are commendable. Generally speaking, the younger crowd doesn’t fall into this category (I’m probably among the elderly of the postmodern group). Moderns are the kind that will say “we’ve always done it this way,” or “If you just do these things by faith, God will work everything out.” Those ideas work for some, but just because we’ve always done something a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way. And we fool ourselves when we suggest that things in this life will always be honky dory if we do everything the Bible says. That’s pretty much the definition of legalism. I’m sure the apostles, all of whom died as martyrs except for John, would disagree with this kind of linear thinking.

I’m afraid I surprised a well-meaning friend in our discussion about tithing. He noted that since he’s always tithed his family has never been in need, and that if everyone would do the same they would find it true for them as well. It’s the rehearsed holy thing to say in Christian circles – but it’s wrong. I know because I’ve had first hand experience that refutes this formula. I’m certainly not going against God’s command for us to give back to him financially. It’s a crucial aspect of experiencing true faith in God. I’m just pointing out that the Bible doesn’t say that God owes you financial security if you obey this rule. If I had put my trust in God based on this undocumented Christian promise, I would have grounds to reject the Bible as untrue.

An upside of postmodernism is the freedom to question beliefs by bouncing the Bible off of real life experience. When an axiom of faith that I’ve been taught doesn’t pan out, I believe the Bible is true – so there must be something wrong with the axiom. This isn’t about winning an argument, it’s about getting the most out of my spiritual journey.

A downside of postmodernism is that many reject authority altogether as if they are the only ones with a grasp on truth. A poor approach to freedom leads to indulging the sinful nature. I don’t reject authority, I just don’t have to believe something is true simply because a person in high office says so. If I’m going to allow somebody to blow my mind with a great thought, I’m going to need proof that they’re on the level.  Authenticity is important, so you’ll often hear us talk about being real. God has given us the ability to decipher if those we choose to follow are blind so that we don’t fall into a pit along with them. It usually doesn’t come down to that because I’ve learned that there are many issues that we allow to divide us unnecessarily.

After warning Perry about the Steak and Shake, he filled me in on the fact that he frequents that place. He’s done his research and has set limitations that will allow him to safely partake of such fine dining without counteracting the positive effects of his walk. Another person may have needed that warning, but not Perry. If I’d had the authority to coerce him into taking another route for his own good (based on my tendencies), it would have been unnecessary. And when too many unnecessary roadblocks are put in your way, the journey becomes a drag.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that being postmodern or modern is how we naturally approach what we choose to believe. Having always done something a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the best way – but I’ve seen that sometimes it is. I don’t want to miss out on the best God has because I’ve confused the postmodern point of view with a superior ability to decipher truth. Some of the people I seek wisdom from are moderns, or certainly less postmodern than I am. It can be confusing – and this is only my brief understanding of it – but I want to encourage you to seek Jesus’ truth (and peace!) in all things.

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