Willian Lane Craig on Emergent, PostModernity, and Current Apologetics
There is nothing more exciting for a researcher than finding that someone they respect greatly has come to the exact same conclusions, while researching independently. For this reason, I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard Craig’s very pointed views on Emergent and Post-Modernity.
I would highly encourage you to take the time to listen to this one podcast – available from his website – and also to compare my own writing, especially The Myth of Post-Modernity. (For new readers, it may be helpful that I write from the perspective of one who formerly considered myself Emergent – and still do, to some extent, although I throw out most of what Brian Maclaren, Rob Bell, and others teach and follow the likes of Mark Driscoll and John Piper who don’t try to change doctrines, but only apply them in relevant and new ways.)
You must keep in mind, first, that Craig is a very sober researcher. He has a sense of humor, true, but he never over-states, or uses bombastic language simply to get a reaction. On the rare occasions when he uses language such that he uses here, what that signifies is that he feels very strongly about an issue. (You must also keep in mind that this is an audio resource, so I have to paraphrase him in my “quotes”)
That being said, I was exhilarated to find him saying that he believes post-modernity to be basically a myth. “After all,” he says, “It’s not like ‘post-moderns’ are relativistic when reading a medicine container. It’s also not like they are relativistic when studying the sciences at school, or getting a job, or making most decisions. In these cases, they hold firmly to logic and propositional truth. It turns out, then, that they only times when they are really ‘relativistic’ is on the matters of religion and ethics. But this isn’t post Modernity. This is what Modernity has taught all along!”
More than a myth, Craig believes that post-modernity is a lie – a lie of the Devil – and it is one of the most powerful weapons which Satan is wielding against the current North American church.
“What are we told to do, in the face of our present culture?” He asks, “To engage our culture, we are told that all the weapons of logic and apologetics developed over the last centuries are now not necessary. We should not think of ourselves as having to defend ourselves rationally. We should not think of ourselves as really having a propositional truth which could be right or wrong. Rather, we are to demonstrate that we are ‘relevant’ and appeal to the religious felt-need of ‘spirituality’ in our culture. What will be the result of this? In another generation, the Church will be nothing more than one more option along the religious landscape of North America, which few with any real education would feel comfortable being associated with.”
What of the Emergent Movement? “It is a movement of over-zealous worship leaders and youth pastors, who simply don’t understand the issues they are engaging, or the negative impact of their movement.”
So what should the church do, in the face of Modern Culture? Craig believes that the best thing we can do is the same sorts of things we have been doing all along: studying the Bible and science to find rational, empirical and reasonable answers to the hope we have inside of us (1 Pet. 3:15).
So, is “post-modernity” relevant at all? Of course, it’s helpful to know where people are at, how they are deceived, so that one can know how to stoop to their level, and what one must do to try to make the Gospel sensible to them. However, one must certainly not let the confusion filling the post-modern mind filter into one’s own thoughts on religion! (Note: see post “Apologetics, The Traitor’s Art“) Although the apologist must present Christianity in a relevant, nuanced and culture-fitting way, Craig believes that at heart, he/she should have a well-structured, well-reasoned, linear and coherent system of believe within their mind which they can then translate down to the level of the average layman.
Thanks Craig – I couldn’t have said it better myself!