Friday, July 14, 2006

Historic tension between evangelicals and modernism

David Fitch recently spoke at a seminar that I attended on the need of the church to leave modernism and connect with the post-modern world. Of interest was his thought that the belief in healing of the physical body, which was a teaching of A. B. Simpson, is not modern. Not that it is post modern either, but the doctrine does imply that science does not have an explanation for everything, which at least resonates with, shall we say, unspoken assumptions of many who class themselves as post modern.

This has caused me to reflect that while much of the evangelical way of doing church is a reflection of modernism, there are also many teachings, and some practices, which have always been in opposition to modernism. This is evident in more than one area, although the belief in miracles, healing and the affirmation of sign gifts, such as speaking in tongues and words of knowledge are the most obvious. I would, for starters, also note the following two.

The continued affirmation of creation as a special act of God. Evangelicals in particular have been reluctant to give up the Genesis account. The overall belief that God acted to create, and the rejection of a position sometimes called theistic evolution, has and continues to be a point of contention with modernism.

The belief in the inspiration of the Bible and the belief in its stories as having actually happened is as well an on-going point of opposition to the modern world view. While it could be argued that the doctrine of inerrancy is at its core a modern philosophical stand, it was an attempt at meeting a modernist challenge. My point is, that here, as in many other places, the methodology of modernism was adopted in order to address modernism.


Ron Baker said...

Fitch's rant on bio-determinism a few weeks back on his blog is a good capsulization of some of your first paragraph - and presumably his intent in the seminar (sorry I wasn't able to stay for that session at Assembly).

As to adopting methodology. I can see when we get past post modernism we will look back and wonder why we used post modern approaches that have become outdated! We use the approaches that are seething in our culture to explain to our culture, in some way or another, what is timeless and unable to be captured by finite minds.

Your very real friend, Franklin said...

I am not sure that we will see "past post-modernism" soon.

Darren said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Darren said...

I will try this again (with better spelling).

Does the C&MA have an official position with respect to the creation/evolution issue?

I started attending a C&MA church about two months ago and my previous denomination had a firm position in favour of direct creation in their doctrinal statement.

This bothered me a bit.