A DESIGNER DELIVERANCE?
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
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"?
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
"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
ARE YOU READY FOR SCIENCE FICTION CLERGY?
no way we can talk about tomorrow’s spiritual leaders out of today’s
context. History requires looking at tomorrow’s leaders out of
A "SILVER BULLET" FOR THE EMERGING CHURCH
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
A "THINKING-MAN’S" RELIGION?
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
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
CAN WE "BELIEVE" IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE
an objective decision? Is it simply reasoned agreement with approved
doctrine? Can we reduce faith, in other words, to mere mental
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.
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"
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
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
IS EVANGELISM OUT-OF-DATE?
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
"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?
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
IT’S TOO LATE
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"
LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE
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
METAPHOR: WHAT IT’S NOT
modern world has missed the essence of metaphor. So nailing what
metaphor is not becomes a necessity for the future
METAPHOR: WHAT IT IS
metaphor marks a major shift from logic to revelation, from mind to
spirit, from proposition to intuition, and from the literate to 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"
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,
PROMISES MUCH MORE ABOUND
the ashes of the past emerge the greatest opportunities in the
history of Christianity
QUESTIONS FOR CLERGY, Part I
will prove the primary language of the future church. Are you ready
for this new language?
QUESTIONS FOR CLERGY, Part II
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
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.
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?"
"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?
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"
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
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
"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
SURVIVING THE FUTURE
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"
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
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
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
THE FUTURE OF THE ARTS, PART I
destined to become the next "incarnation" of our faith.
THE FUTURE OF THE ARTS, PART II
of your old ideas about "sacred" arts.
THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY IN THE HISTORY OF
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
Christians simply "go along for the ride." As a result, today’s
Milquetoast "Christians" seem scarcely qualified as "Christians."
THE "HOLY GRAIL" OF POSTMODERNISM
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
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?
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
one of the spiritual leaders of the future? How do you know? Take
this test and see.
THE "TIPPING POINT"
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!
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?
important is "tradition" in the future church?
WARNING: TEST YOUR EMOTIONS BEFORE PROCEEDING
is reshaping reality in the postmodern world. Are your emotions an
asset or a liability to the future church? Find out by answering the
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HUMILITY?
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
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?
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?
"Modern," "Postmodern," or Something Else? Are you sure? Take this
brief test and see:
WHO'S "IN" AND WHO'S "OUT"?
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
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
liberals nor conservatives lead society. Find out why.
WILL WE EVEN CALL IT "CHURCH"?
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
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?
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"
III. EMPOWERED TRUTHS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM
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
IV. FANTASY OR FAITH?
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.