07 February 2014

Deconstruction is a new birth

I suggest in fact, that if postmodernism functions as the death of modernist culture, many of us will find ourselves like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. We as Western Christians mostly bought a bit too heavily into modernism, and we are shocked to discover that it has been dying for a while and is no more or less completely dead. We need to learn how to listen for the stranger on the road who will explain to us how it was that these things had to happen, and how there is a new world out there waiting to be born, for which we are called to be the midwives.
The answer to the challenge of postmodernism is not to run back tearfully into the arms of modernism. It is to hear in postmodernity God’s judgment on the follies and failing, the sheer selfish arrogance of modernity and to look and pray and work for the resurrection into God’s new world out beyond.
We live at a great cultural turning point; the Christian mission in the post-modern world must be the means of the church grasping the initiative and enabling our world to turn the corner in the right direction.

What we must not do, I believe, is to pretend that it has not really happened, to cling to modernity in some shape or form because to admit that postmodernity has made its point is to connive with the forces of destruction. That would be like the two disciples trying to pretend that Jesus had not really been crucified…It might be nice for them to hold on to their earlier dreams, but they would have been living a lie, not the truth.

But nor can we construct a Christian worldview from within post-modernity itself. Our task is to discover, in practice what the equivalent of the resurrection might be within our culture and for our times.

Was it not necessary that modernist versions of Christianity should die in order that truth might be freshly glimpsed, not as a set of doctrines or theories, but as a person and as persons indwelt by that Person?

This is Christian mission in a postmodern world. 
— N.T. Wright, "The Challenge of Jesus", chapter “Walking to Emmaus in a Postmodern World”