I remember a few years ago when Don Carson come to my church for a conference. I had recently read his book “The Gagging of God”, David Wells’ books “No Place for Truth” and “God in the Wasteland.”, and Ian Murray’s “Evangelicalism Divided”. My head was buzzing with my new-found understanding of worldview history and the evolution of epistemology (the study of how we come to know truth) and the influence of of these two factors on the church. I was eager to ask Carson what he thought was next. At the end of the conference I got my chance when several of us were chatting him up.
The answer he gave me was humble. He said he didn’t really know what would come after post-modernism and deconstruction. Had I been clever enough I might have asked him how these things would impact the church. I would bet money that he would have forecast something like the Emergent Church movement, especially since some of the earliest prototypes were already in play.
Personally, I dialogged a bit with one of the readers here about where the whole Emergent things was going. In my opinion, I said, the movement was moving toward churches without Bibles. In her response, the reader (Dani) observed that Saddleback (Rick Warren’s church) members often didn’t bring Bibles. This is probably because, as the Irish Calvinist has observed, Scripture is provided on overhead displays and in the printed programs. No doubt, as Dani noted, Saddleback’s foundation is built on some of the ideas common to the Emergent, such as a de-emphasis on Christian academics, doctrine, and theology proper. (Dani, I hope I’ve repped you properly!)
What I meant was something even more terrible. When I said that I saw the Emergent Church shedding the Bible, I meant the pastors.
Since the Emergent movement is basically post-modernism gone to seed in the church, the Bible with all of its truth claims and dogma will eventually find its way out of the ‘church’ entirely. Already Scripture is not much more than a starting point, so its disappearance will be gradually and mostly unnoticed.
These churches may also end up without pastors, at least as we know them. Post-modern foundations instantly undermine the purpose of a pastor, at least as a teacher of some kind. Most likely, pastors will devolve to being paid cheerleaders and administrators. When truth claims are deemed oppressive, that aspect of the pastor’s job (preaching the Word) is pretty much unwanted.
Imagine that: churches without Bibles OR pastors! And yet, it makes sense, doesn’t it?
That is a scary thought. When churches empty themselves of their authority, the Bible, and the stewards of that authority, the result is that Christ’s churches will be primed to be filled with something other than Christ. What’s more, I believe that eventually the world will reject the silly conclusions that we come to when we cut out the legs of truth. They will realize that relativism demands that we be permissive of every form of perversion. the free pursuit of perversion will lead to anarchy, and anarchy will encroach on their ability to pursue their own good. Post-modernism WILL be rejected.
I don’t know how long this will take., but the vacuum left by post-modernism, in this penny-prophet’s opinion, will be one who offers peace through an authoritarian rule. People will be thirst for direction. It could take 100 years, but people will turn from the absurd conclusions of post-modernism, and there will be one who gives it to them. I think you know of whom I speak.