Saturday, July 24, 2004

introducing others to the emerging church conversation
The emerging church doesn't talk a ton anymore (at least from my seat) about postmodernism.  It used to be the big deal but I think as a group we've moved on.  Nevertheless, for those just entering the movement or wishing to understand it better, gaining an understanding of it is  helpful.  Yesterday I was talking with Levi about a friend of his who's wanting to wrap her brain around the emerging church and I recommended a few books.  I think my introduction to the movement was when Brian gave me a rough draft of New Kind of Christian and asked for comments (I think it was sometime in 1999 though he may have spoken to me before then about his interest in postmodernism).  One of the first books I read that was extremely helpful was A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley Grenz.  Another helpful book was Postmodernism for Beginners, a wonderful comic book-style book from the United Kingdom by Jim Powell.  (I really enjoy these Writers and Readers books and have purchased a few of them.  They have a number of books providing informative introductions to a number of philosophers, including some of the postmodern thought leaders).  For pastor types or for those wishing to bridge postmodern thought with the church, I highly recommend The End of the World as We Know It by Chuck Smith.  For balance I think it's also helpful to read one or two of the books very critical of uncritically mixing postmodernism and matters Christian.  Though I do not believe he's explored very deeply what postmodernism offers that's positive for the church, DA Carson's substantial The Gagging of God will outline for the committed reader some of the concerns an unthoughtful application of postmodernism to the church might precipitate.

I perhaps should also mention that many have followed Brian McLaren's distinction between "postmodernism" and "postmodernity" which can be confusing to those who lump the two terms together.  Brian suggests a nomenclature where "postmodernism" refers to the philosophical school of thought with such thinkers as Derrida, Rorty, Lyotard, and Foucault and "postmodernity" refers more to its current cultural manifestation. 

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