David Wells on the shallowness of postmoderns

Continuing on the theme of postmodernism on this week’s blog, David Wells has observes, in “The supremacy of Christ in a postmodern world” that:

“Postmoderns are remarkably nonchalant about the meaninglessness that they experience in life.  Reading the works of an earlier generation of writers, existentialist authors like Jean-Paul Satre and Albert Camus, one almost develops a sense of vertigo…so bleak, empty and life-threatening was their vision. That sense, however, has now completely gone.  Postmorderns live on the surface, not in the depths, and theirs is a despair to be tossed off lightly and which might even be alleviated by nothing  more serious than a sitcom.

How are we to work with this in mission?  Christ died to save sinners from the reality of the wrath of God, this is not to be laughed off, but postmoderns simply shrug and turn on the TV.  Could it be that Western Christians are postmodern in our presentation of the gospel, adapted in some way to living with our contemporaries in the shallows?  Have become like postmoderns for the sake of the gospel, that some might be saved, or do we live syncretic western lives, never going too deep, but talking impassionately and analytically about life, not getting under the skin, equally nonchalant.  My Nigerian and Punjabi Christian friends clearly think the latter is the case; where is the passion they ask?  I have been accused of preaching the on the terror of judgement on a Sunday but not living a life which is commensurate with what I preach.  I think this is a valid observation.  If I really thought hell were real I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about it, I’d be knocking on doors and pleading with lost souls to turn to Christ.

My own experience is that passion is vital, though I was more like the previous generation of existentialists than a true postmodern before I came to Christ.  I would lie awake wondering when the sun would finally burn out, bringing an end to life on earth and rendering all that went before it completely futile.  I stood with that sense of vertigo on the edge of the precipice and felt the full horror of that bleak, empty and life-threatening vision.  And it was not only the careful, analytical, reasoned preaching of Mr William Still which won me to Christ but the passion with which he preached it, he was far from postmodern-cool.  His was preaching filled to the brim with a commensurate passion for the realities of which he spoke.  Is this one occasion when in would be better for us not to be all things to all men?

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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