Despite some positive qualities, postmodernism and secularism pose significant challenges to Christianity. And a postmodern worldview doesn’t just affect non-Christians but followers of Jesus as well. I came across an interview from Wretched.org which highlighted some of the obstacles facing Christian evangelists in today’s postmodern culture. Below is part of the interview between the Todd Friel of Wretched and a student who describes himself as a Christian:
Interviewer: Let’s say I’m not a Christian. Persuade me to believe in the same faith that you have.
Student: I’d have to know a little bit more about your situation and who you are, and where you’re coming from. But if I were forced to persuade you, I would ask you to live a life of loving others above all.
Interviewer: Ok. And what if I don’t want to?
Student: Um, that’s your choice.
Interviewer: So is that why you’re a Christian?
Interviewer: I’m asking you to persuade me. Why should I become a Christian?
Student: I don’t think you should become a Christian.
Interviewer: How come?
Student: Because I think you are entitled to believe what you want to believe.
I want to share couple of observations about this conversation. Firstly, it’s always good to know about a person’s context and background when we witness to them. But we don’t need to know everything about a person in order to share the gospel. And that’s because the message of Jesus is universal. Of course we want to know how to best communicate the gospel to different kinds of people. But this is an issue of communication rather than application. The fact that Jesus died for our sins is just as applicable to the young child as to the retired person, to the unemployed man and the professional woman. Our identity is always secondary to the over-arching truth of God’s word. This is a problem for the postmodern worldview, which is deeply suspicious of ‘meta-narratives’ (stories or theories that try to make sense of the world).
Secondly, there’s no mention of Jesus. What a tragedy it is when the message of Christianity is reduced to simply ‘loving others above all.’ Good though this sentiment might appear to be (who wants to criticise love?), there is nothing to separate it from the philosophy of Plato, Buddah or Oprah. But the most shocking line from the video was when the interviewer asked “Why should I become a Christian?” to which the student responded, “I don’t think you should.”
It’s hard to imagine the apostle Paul responding to that question with the same answer. In fact, we see a similar question directed to him by King Agrippa in Acts 26. After hearing Paul preach, Agrippa asks, “Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?” Paul responds, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am” (Acts 26:28-29). His desire was that everyone would know the transformative power of the gospel, as he so clearly did.
The student in question is a young man, so perhaps we should go easy on him. I wince when I think about some of the beliefs I had as a student. None of us has a perfect Christian worldview and we are constantly in need of Biblical correction to our beliefs and behaviour. Yet the concern is that this student is merely articulating what some of his Christian friends also believe: that it’s wrong to call someone else ‘wrong.’ We must step back from the cliff edge of postmodernity and return, as Francis Schaeffer said, to the idea of ‘true Truth’. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life. And we need to better communicate that message to a world in desperate need of the gospel’s life-changing power.
Michael Shaw is the Editor of Cornerstone Network. He was formerly a Broadcast Journalist and Associate Producer at the BBC, and is now studying Theology at Oxford University. You can follow him on Twitter here.