Learning from or rejecting Post-modernity?


In the emerging church discussions, especially over culture, and how to respond, we see seem to have the polarisations of post-modernity as something that is opposed to Christianity, or it's something to liberate it.

In terms of opposing post-modernity, we might see C Colson, or DA Carson, or Milard Erikson, or Groothuis, and many others worried that post-modernity will cause us to lose the truth of the Gospel in some way. In terms of opportunity, we might have Stanley Grenz, John Franke, Nancey Murphy, Graham Ward, Brian McLaren, Pete Rollins and many others, who see truth liberated from the modern world in so many possbile ways.

There is nothing new in this interaction with philosophy of the culture around us. Do we say we have the bible and gospel and don't need anything else from our culture, it has nothing to offer. Tertullian an early church father (106-225 AD) for instance, was very hostile to the emerging culture around him. His famous phrase 'What has athens to do with Jerusalem'? By that he meant what does the philosophy and beliefs of our culture have to do with the church and it's beliefs? He goes on to say 'We have no need for curiosity after Jesus Christ, nor for inquiry after the Gospel. When we believe, we desire to believe nothing further'. He began the western churches suspicion and seperation from the Eastern church, over interacting with the beliefs and philosophy of culture.

And on the other hand we have Augustine (354-430 AD), who although from the western Latin church, argued that Christians should extract as much good from Philosphy as possible. 'If those who are called philosophers...have said anything true and consistant with our faith, we must not reject it'. Some might argue that it's Agustines use of Platonism that has got the church into some of it's problems in the modern world.

Or maybe he was a good missionary, and the values he found in his context, aren't the ones we need, rather we need to do what he did and extract the good from our changing culture, and apply it to our mission today.