AN INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS HOHSTADT
To find out where their church will be in a few
short years, read this interview:
How do you define
Hohstadt: Postmodernism is simply a rejection
of the modern period . . . a refusal of old ways of thinking . . . a
loss of confidence in the proof of truth. Postmodernism is a
negative—though, perhaps, necessary—"death of civilization." So I
prefer to celebrate the positive future that now replaces the
"deconstruction" of postmodernism. You may call it
POST-postmodernism, if you want.
How do you define and practice evangelism in a
Hohstadt: The evangelism of the
POST-postmodern future will be more:
• organic (part of life itself) and less
institutional or programmed,
• personal and less doctrinal,
• grace-filled and less sin-dominated,
• a triumph of the Spirit and less a triumph of
• motivated by joy and less by fear,
• a community dynamic and less individualistic,
• motivated by the heart and less by propositions
• validated by experience and less by knowledge,
• open to multiple points of entry and less
restricted to certain times and places,
• helpful to multiple stages of growth and less a
• art and less rhetoric,
• listening and less talking,
• modeling and less teaching,
• cross-cultural and less cultural.
As a futurist, where do you see the church in 50
Hohstadt: A time traveler would not recognize
the Church 50 years from now as the "church." First, we will see
reality in a different way . . . we will prove "truth" in a
different way. We will simply think differently. Science,
technology, creativity, and spiritual experience will become so
blended that they will appear as one. For example, faith,
meditation, prophecy, quantum theory, chaos theory, creativity, art,
and virtual reality will become virtual synonyms.
In the same way, language will also change.
Metaphor, multiple, and mosaic thinking will replace the linear
logic of today. Within this new language, communion with God will
prove miraculously profound, involving the intuitive senses and
feelings far more than the reasoning intellect. For these reasons,
something similar to the "Gifts of the Spirit" will pervade worship
and every worshiper will participate.
Though the Church will remain "in the world, but
not of the world," the line between secular and sacred will blur.
For worship will happen anytime, anyplace, anywhere, and with
anybody. It will also be global and trans-cultural.
Since language is key to human communication,
what do you see as three main blocks between a modern and postmodern
Hohstadt: Those who have both feet in the
modern world find it almost impossible to communicate with
postmodernists. Just consider:
• Postmodernists have destroyed Universal Truth,
the most precious possession of the modern world.
• Postmodernists have destroyed the validity of
modern language . . . the objectivity of its science and logic.
• Postmodernists have destroyed the vision of the
modern world and have offered little hope for a new vision.
For these reasons, we must look beyond the
"deconstruction" of postmodernism to the new and hopeful
POST-postmodernism that is now coming into being. If we look
closely, we will discover that the new world is not totally
postmodern. And it never will be.
What do you see as the three main qualities of a
Hohstadt: In the POST-postmodern world, a
spiritual leader will be:
• A mentor and less a manipulator
• A servant and less the one being served
• A poet and a prophet and less a CEO
What do you see as the future of tech and its
role in the church?
Hohstadt: The church must get past its naive
adolescence with technology. Technology in today’s church reminds me
of the early days of the movie industry. We will recognize a mature
art form (or worship form) when technology is not merely "added on"
but intrinsic and prophetic. In the meantime, let us remember that
"turning a knob" or "pushing a button" does not automatically
manifest God’s presence.
Given all your vast knowledge and experience,
what two things would you like to pass on to this generation?
Hohstadt: Please don’t make the same mistake
the Boomers made. They turned their culture into a self-image
religion. Every moment in every event should risk the power of
prophetic metaphor. But this has nothing to do with doing new things
or doing old things. It has everything to do with participating in a
live or dead metaphor. After all, something new can become an
overnight cliché just as easily
as something old.
Finally, see yourselves as guides into the future. Take an old
person by the hand and walk them gently and faithfully into this new
world. They need you, and you need them.