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A DESIGNER DELIVERANCE?

Those "in the know" have reduced salvation to a "thinking man’s religion"—salvation by information—deliverance by data. These "keepers of the creeds" invoke centuries of rhetoric in winning reasoned agreement with their proposed ideas about God.

 

A MANY SPLENDORED THING

The way we were taught to "think" is proving wrong. A new awareness is transcending the "logic" of the past and will forever change the church—for the better! The leaders of the future are already violating the boundaries of conventional learning and language and replacing outmoded proofs of Truth.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS HOHSTADT

Christianity in a postmodern culture

 

ARE YOU BEING "LEFT BEHIND"?

Today’s leaders can’t salvage tomorrow’s church. For their flaws are built into their very roles! In other words, the leadership system is already based on a fallacy. And—even if that were not true—present leadership roles are totally incompatible with the coming world.

 

A "REAL-TIME" GOD FOR "REAL-TIME" TROUBLES

The "real-time" voice of God is neither doctrine nor dogma, rhetoric nor reason, show-business nor sensationalism. Hosea explains, for example, that God continues to speak to us through damah, or "prophetic metaphor."

 

ARE YOU READY FOR SCIENCE FICTION CLERGY?

There’s no way we can talk about tomorrow’s spiritual leaders out of today’s context. History requires looking at tomorrow’s leaders out of tomorrow’s context.

 

A "SILVER BULLET" FOR THE EMERGING CHURCH

How can the emerging church get past all the traps of culture—the philosophical fads, the political correctness, the consensual delusions? How can it get past the caricatured excess of our spiritual immaturity? Thank God for a "silver bullet." And we find it in one word: "transparency." The emerging church must rediscover its transparency.

 

A "THINKING-MAN’S" RELIGION?

Many emerging leaders remain indifferent to "doing" the church. They prefer, instead, "thinking" the church. They focus, for example, on dialogue and discussion. Their core convictions manifest armchair "Christianity." So they ceaselessly talk and blog, "deconstruct" and "reconstruct." As a result, church mission reduces to abstract "mission"—more a mind set than a model—more the nature than the need—more process than practice.

 

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

Today’s church struggles between modernism and postmodernism . . . between a retreating theology and a hopeless philosophy . . . between a passing past and a futureless future. And this struggle is not an abstract idea. Nor is it just one more cog in the slow turn of history.

 

CAN WE "BELIEVE" IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE

Is faith an objective decision? Is it simply reasoned agreement with approved doctrine? Can we reduce faith, in other words, to mere mental assent?

 

CHRISTIAN CON ARTISTS?

Postmoderns think we’re a bunch of "manipulators." They think religion is simply "a tool of the privileged to manipulate those who are not privileged." They believe our doctrines are simply tricks of those "in the know" to control those not "in the know." In short, they resent being played with. They resent "con artists"—whether in the church or out of the church.

 

"DOING METAPHOR"

Today, we witness the end of a faith that "simply thinks," that forms from mere passive assent, that fades day by day with the dying gasps of the unempowered. Instead, we are learning to participate in the language of prophetic metaphor. We are learning how to "do" metaphor.

 

EMPOWERED PASSIONS

A new language emerges out of the ashes of modernism. It is decidedly the language of metaphor, and it will definitely ride a wave of emotion.

 

HOW DO WE KNOW WE’RE NOT IN A CULT?

How do we know we’re not in a cult? How do we know we haven’t reduced or simplified faith to the point of distorting it? Let’s face it. Most of us actually assume we can fit God into our tiny heads. And when that happens, our church becomes a "ghetto of truth." It becomes a "cult." Truth, after all, cannot be reduced to the "opinion" of any one person or any one group. And, the God of History cannot be permanently anchored to the "vote" of any one subculture or any one era.

 

INTRODUCING THE FUTURE

Postmodernism brings fear to the hearts of church leaders. No wonder. It claims the end of the modern world—the end of our reality, our thinking, our language. More sinister, it rejects any universal truth. The elite enjoy this break with the past as a philosophical "game," but the game is real and represents the most serious assault in the history of the Church . . . even of Civilization itself.

 

IS EVANGELISM OUT-OF-DATE?

Will evangelism become old-fashioned . . . out-of-date? Or will it simply change its form? To see how your views compare with the trends of history, take this brief test:

 

IS "SAVING SOULS" POSSIBLE IN A POSTMODERN WORLD?

The "Word" hasn’t changed. The "Hope of the World" hasn’t taken a vacation. We’re the ones who’ve lost our legacy.

 

IS SCRIPTURE STILL VALID?

Scripture has lost much of its voice today. It has grown strangely silent even in the church! Does this mean Scripture has a diminished role in the postmodern world? For more than two millennia, biblical writers gave form to their inspired revelations. And for two more millennia, we believed in their written inspirations. In short, Scripture proved its own integrity. It was "the norming norm,"1 the standardizing standard. It was the touchstone, the test—the reliable witness—of Truth. In other words, it was around long before the distortions of modernity.

 

IT’S TOO LATE

We live in an extraordinary time. Future historians will split this era into "before" and "after." Our "endings" and "beginnings" used to be incremental, now they’re exponential. And in their headlong rush, history forces goodbyes to all the things already gone by. Nothing has "gone by" more than the clash between Christian "conservatives" and "liberals."

 

LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE

Can you speak the language of the future? We turn on a point in planetary history more precipitous than any moment in the last 65 million years. So says scientist/scholar Thomas Berry. Indeed, the next viable human society will differ decidedly from what we have called "civilization."

 

METAPHOR: WHAT IT’S NOT

The modern world has missed the essence of metaphor. So nailing what metaphor is not becomes a necessity for the future church.

 

METAPHOR: WHAT IT IS

A new metaphor marks a major shift from logic to revelation, from mind to spirit, from proposition to intuition, and from the literate to the prophetic.

 

MONEY, HONEY!

The church is at a crossroads. We’re seeing the end of "religiosity"—in all its forms. We’re seeing the "deconstruction" of the pseudo "sacred"—in all its piety. And this forewarning includes "money."

 

OUR GREEK "SOUL"

Too many emerging leaders blindly embrace a Greek "Christianity" where faith is an "idea"—nothing more, nothing less. Like early Greek theologians, they still filter the Gospel through formula, analysis, theory and conjecture. Philosophical dialogue, in fact, defines the movement. In their own words, truth is "a complex philosophical, epistemological question."

 

PROMISES MUCH MORE ABOUND

Out of the ashes of the past emerge the greatest opportunities in the history of Christianity

 

QUESTIONS FOR CLERGY, Part I

Metaphor will prove the primary language of the future church. Are you ready for this new language?

 

QUESTIONS FOR CLERGY, Part II

Prophetic metaphor is the language of the future church, but it’s not the metaphor you think. The modern notion of metaphor is so distorted and short-sighted that we must "get in your face" about it.

 

QUESTIONS FOR CLERGY, Part III

To the clergy, I say I’m grateful for your successful "programs." I’m impressed with your intellectual prowess and rhetorical passion. And I appreciate the importance of your administrative process. But all these attainments easily take place without a "manifest presence"—without spiritual empowerment. Today, a new faith moves with powerful and determined expectation. It acts with the perfect knowledge that absent things are present. It projects a world. And this new faith requires metaphor.

 

RETHINKING THINKING

We no longer hunger for the abstract realities, orderly drills, and dry data of the "educated" mind. We long, instead, for personal encounters, secret sensations, and the passions of experience at all levels of knowing.

 

"SERAPHS OR SNAKES?"

Are these "dreadful forces" or have church leaders simply mistaken "snakes for seraphs"? Have we wrongly held sinister deaths for saving deaths? Have we hung stubbornly to where God has been at the expense of where God is going?

 

SO YOUR CHURCH IS UP-TO-DATE?

Whether liberal or conservative, emerging leaders believe they must prove they are up-to-date. So they seek an accommodation to the spirit of the present world. They feel compelled to make Christianity more "relevant" to the spirit of this age. They beat their drums for a new theology "by, for, and about" the spirit of today’s generation.

 

SPEAKING TRUTH IN THE "POSTMODERN WORLD"

How does the Church speak "Truth" in a world that refuses the notion of universal truth? Consider the following mountain top views:

 

SPIRITUALITY AND THE LANGUAGE OF THE FUTURE

We are changing to an oral culture where words do things—where virtual reality becomes real—where fiction becomes fact—where metaphor becomes the very seed of the future.

 

STUCK IN A SUICIDE PACT

Many say, "Society has always changed, so what’s the big deal?" The "big deal" is a shift in the structure of knowledge—not a mere shift in content.

 

SURVIVING THE FUTURE

Virtual Reality is more than virtual. It has captured the popular imagination before reaching anything close to maturity, and it will soon take over the economy as television did. More important, Virtual Reality will become the language of the future. Whether we surf the Net or not, everyday language will respond to the overtones of this fundamental reality. If in doubt, check out the youth.

 

TALKIN’ THE "TALK"

Today’s believers no longer speak today’s language! The Lord of History is doing a "new thing," yet our linguistic journeymen have missed the journey. And, as a result, God’s "representatives" seldom represent God. They may "walk the walk," but they can’t "talk the talk."

 

THE END OF MILQUETOAST CHRISTIANITY

A terrible virus has spread through today’s church. It’s the cold sickness of a faith that simply "thinks"—a "thinking-man’s" religion. Mere words, hard facts, and the trivial surface of language hardly suffice in a world of deeper realities.

 

THE FRIEND THAT STAYED TOO LONG

Greek philosophy became "the friend that stayed too long." Increasingly, its philosophers pulled Scripture through the only world-view they knew. They took the basic phrases of Scripture and molded them into a systematic and philosophical whole. They fed "existence" and "truth" through the filter of formula, analysis, theory and conjecture. . . . In short, they brought classical rhetoric to the aid of an imperiled religion. But these well-meaning friends also brought a twice-removed "Good News," a distant "idea" of God, and a disembodied spirit.

 

THE FUTURE OF THE ARTS, PART I

Art is destined to become the next "incarnation" of our faith.

 

THE FUTURE OF THE ARTS, PART II

Get rid of your old ideas about "sacred" arts.

 

THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

We live in a time of explosive change. "We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the twenty-first century, but rather, we’ll witness on the order of 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate of progress)." And with this explosion, we have been given the greatest opportunity in the history of the church.

 

THE HOLE IN THE DONUT OF TODAY’S CHRISTIANITY

Most Christians simply "go along for the ride." As a result, today’s Milquetoast "Christians" seem scarcely qualified as "Christians."

 

THE "HOLY GRAIL" OF POSTMODERNISM

Most would-be futurists cling to the "Holy Grail" of postmodernism. They blindly adhere to every novelty of this philosophical fad. But, with too many gullible postmodernists, "One enormously precious baby was tossed with tons of unpleasant bathwater."

 

THE LEGACY OF POSTMODERNISM

Any vision of the future must include—though often reluctantly—the role of "postmodernism." This buzzword fixates the minds of all would-be futurists and levitates the learning of all "wannabe" philosophers. And not without cause. Within these great powers of change, postmodernism shouts "Salvation!" for dead-end leaders and frustrated intellectuals. Yet, we "moderns" still ignore the particular slant on our slang . . . the prejudice, myopia, and arbitrariness of our lingo. In other words, we have no standards for our tastes, no credibility for our texts. Whether retorting or reporting, subjectivity traps each of us in the myriad influences of our small world.

 

THE NEW SEARCH FOR TRUTH

Theologians may hold the tools to "prove" the "truths" of the modern era, but they have yet to discover the tools to verify the Truth of a postmodern era.

 

THE NEXT BUZZWORD?

Our first buzzword fling began with the confusion of a "postmodern" church. More recently, we have preferred an "emerging" church. Now—in a giant step forward—we may be ready for the "Singularity" Church.

 

THE SPIRITUAL LEADERS OF THE FUTURE

Are you one of the spiritual leaders of the future? How do you know? Take this test and see.

 

THE "TIPPING POINT"

We’ve already reached the "tipping point" between the failure and the success of the "emerging church movement." We’ve already moved into lands where even our best maps no longer work. And, we’ve already faced inescapable history and risked unredeemable errors.

 

THE WRONG BOOGEYMAN!

Church leaders see dangers, but these dangers are not what actually endanger us. And their believers see perils, but these perils are not what really imperil us. We’re totally sober about "menacing shadows," but we know almost nothing about the source of those shadows. In short, we’re frightened by "terrible" symptoms while totally missing terrible realities. We’ve got the wrong boogeyman!

 

VOICES FROM THE PAST?

How important is "tradition" in the future church?

 

WARNING: TEST YOUR EMOTIONS BEFORE PROCEEDING

Emotion is reshaping reality in the postmodern world. Are your emotions an asset or a liability to the future church? Find out by answering the following questions:

 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HUMILITY?

By now, it should be obvious that something big is happening. Bigger than what we’re doing. Bigger than what we’re predicting. We can’t see where it’s leading us, but we can certainly see "We’re not in Kansas anymore". . . or in "Christendom."

 

WHAT MAKES MUSIC CHRISTIAN?
Separate from the text and title, what makes music Christian?

 

WHERE WE’RE GOING

The information highway may be mostly hype today, but it is an understatement about tomorrow. It may seem a vague matter of the future, but it will totally change the church.

 

WHICH CHURCH WILL SURVIVE?

The language of the future will demand new ways of saying what we say—meaning what we mean—and signifying what’s significant. This language will no longer describe "what is." Instead, it will describe "what is coming to be!" It will no longer "supervene" in life—that is, merely "add to life." Instead, it will "intervene" in life—it will actually "change" life.

 

WHICH WORLD DO YOU LIVE IN?

Are You "Modern," "Postmodern," or Something Else? Are you sure? Take this brief test and see:

 

WHO'S "IN" AND WHO'S "OUT"?

The refusal of an empowered laity has proven the greatest failure of today’s church. The co-dependency of skeptical pastors—protecting their own financial interests—and lazy laity—protecting their own membership privileges—has become an insidious addiction. Because of this cozy collusion, the more fervent and faith-filled entrepreneurs are finding their way outside the church.

 

WHO'S MAKING CHRISTIANS SO ANGRY?

Spirituality now encompasses more than "church." Christ’s mission now embraces more than "religion." For spiritual leaders are showing up outside the established church, and "unbelievers" are becoming "believers" outside sacred "systems."

 

WHO’S RIGHT? THE LIBERALS OR THE CONSERVATIVES?

Today’s church is plagued by political bias. And its leaders have turned this bias—whether left/right, blue/red, liberal/conservative—into a pseudo-religion, something sacred in itself. Yet, there’s really no such thing as a "liberal Christian" or a "conservative Christian."

 

WHO WE ARE

Neither liberals nor conservatives lead society. Find out why.

 

WILL WE EVEN CALL IT "CHURCH"?

Changes in today’s church are happening so frequently, so profoundly, that we can’t tell for certain where we’re going. In fact, if we finally get there, will we even call it "church"?

 

I. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "EVIDENCE" OF DOCTRINES?

The world no longer accepts the proofs of our truth. Nonbelievers no longer suffer the evidence of our doctrines. In short, our proof—our evidence—our interpretation have been discredited. The church must meet this historic challenge with far more convincing certainties. And—contrary to opinion—we have those certainties. Even in a postmodern world, valid signs and tests of truth remain. They simply differ from the ones we have used.

 

II. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "PROOFS" OF TRUTH?

The hidden scandal of the historical church has been exposed: The world no longer accepts the proofs of our truth or the evidence of our doctrines. What else proves a greater threat? Urgently, church leaders must find far more convincing certainties—far more valid signs and tests of Truth. And, though many believers certify "truth" by the "experience" of their faith, they must also learn to "test" those signs.

 

III. EMPOWERED TRUTHS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Young believers are moving beyond modern signs of "truth"—narrow "truths," ghettos of "truth." And these future faithful are also moving beyond the postmodern signs of "truth"—subjective "truth," disconnected "truth."

 

IV. FANTASY OR FAITH?

For centuries, believers have been "going on faith." For many, however, that meant the blind acceptance of someone else’s faith—a "faith-once-removed." In other words, God was whoever Aunt Lucy or the "big guys" on our cultural "block" said He was. So in the absence of firsthand knowledge, we’ve hungered for the "experience" of faith, the "signs" of faith, the raw reality of empowered meaning in our lives. And these experiences or "signs" have often satisfied the longing in our heart and have propelled us toward the affirmation of what we hold to be true.




Future Church Administrator