This topic is a very fascinating one for me in the sense that it opens up areas which in my opinion many Christians including graduate students are less enthused to interact. The world is not stagnant. It is constantly evolving. What is relevant today may not be the case in the next decade. Before Modernism was the Pre-modernism era, which viewed meaning in the lens of authority. In this era meaning was monopolized by authority, the Roman Catholic Church being an example. The populace were dominated, or in other words possessed by tradition.
Overtime, a movement arose in opposition to this monopolized meaning by authority and this led to the emergence of Modernism in the 1800s or so, depending on who you read. This “new kid on the block” (modernism) brought in industrialism, progress, literature, music, arts, and prosperity. This era also saw human reason, human ingenuity, and human authority at a high pinnacle. But because the human mind is insatiable with the quest for discoveries, exploration; always desiring to push the limit, people now started to move away from Modernist concept of reality, and began to question the certainty of things, hence Postmodernism.
In my opinion, Post modernism is not that awful. It is a movement that builds upon modernism, but tries to move away from the strict rationalistic approach of modernism. Post modernism heralds subjectivity relative to morality, social constructions, political movements, arts, and relativism. My big dilemma with post modernism are 1.) Its insistence that humans lack the ability to know things for certain. 2.) Its undermining of the construction of language by insinuating that words can be interpreted differently owing to the fluidity of language, and 3.) Its innuendo that the bible written in the ancient language is open to various interpretation of equal validity. To the postmodern mindset, nothing is truly knowable. They argue that because nothing is truly knowable, the foundation for truth, (which for Christians is the Bible and God’s revelation), both moral and spiritual are dubious and open to interpretation and reexamination.
However, having said all these, I strongly believe that Post modernism presents Christians especially graduate students and anyone committed to Biblical truths a great opportunity to share the gospel, but within a new paradigm. Evangelism within the Post modern context requires a paradigm shift from pre-modernism and modernism approach. Here is why. A study conducted by The Barna Group (a very reputable research group) in 2007 stated that many people in America lack a basic understanding of biblical principles owing to their naturalistic worldview. These people according to Barna, tend to perceive and interpret the world in light of natural principles, combined with relativism with regards to morals and truth. Because of post modernism rejection of the biblical absolutes, we have to device innovative ways of preaching the gospel to them. The emerging church is trying to do that by way of consumerism, which I am not opposed to the extent that it does compromise God’s holy writ.
I have in some occasions shared the gospel with people with postmodern concept. I first of all acknowledge that we are all children of God made in His image regardless of whether we believe in His existence or not. I try to explore why they believe what they believe. Often times, they leave with a different view of God than they did before our conversation.Our problem is that because we know we that have the truth and the absolute, we get into to the “it’s my way or the high way mode.” This results in eliminating any common ground for dialogue. The paradigm shift I referenced earlier is accepting the persons, exploring with them their live journeys, and what gives them meaning. Once we gain their trust, it becomes more easier to share our faith with them. It has worked well for me.
We can be sensitive by being humble and intentional about how we interact with individuals with post modern mindset. I am not a big fan of apologetics because it tends to win arguments. Accepting people the way they are, letting them know that you care about them, and not bombarding them with scriptures prematurely are ways we could be sensitive to them.