Two distinctive features which fit those of the postmodern generation are respect for testimony and lack of regard for authority. The disregard for absolutes and the acceptance of someone’s story has left them with twin problems and the church with a double dilemma. Since the postmodernist will not accept the concept of absolute truth, he is placed in a position of having no reference point for his life. He is like a ship without a compass. Since he will accept someone’s experience as real for that person, but not necessarily for himself, he is placed in the position of having a multiplicity of realities that are not tangible for him. To his mind it is as if each person is in a personalized bubble of reality which is unrelated in substance to that of anyone else.
The church’s basic premises are founded in absolute truth. If that concept is not accepted then the premise is rejected as well. Furthermore, many Christians are reluctant to tell their story except when they are cloistered with other Christians in a building topped with a steeple. Even then, it is sometimes difficult to persuade the “faithful” to recount the testimony of their faith.
How then does the Church reach a postmodern world? Are we to consider the differences to be irreconcilable and thus acquiesce that we have lost a generation? The situation seems to be hopeless as long as the postmodern will not accept the absolutes that are essential to our faith, and we neglect to tell our story which might convince them to consider the veracity of our worldview.
How can we win them? How can we breech this seemly insurmountable wall of separation? I would like to suggest that it appears that a key to this problem would be through the vantage of incarnational testimony. By incarnational testimony I mean the life, and the vocalization of a daily experience which clearly and without hesitation expresses a living, vital relationship with the risen Jesus.
The account of our experience with God must be genuine, sound genuine and bear the scrutiny of examination over a period of time. Postmodernists seem to have an uncanny ability to perceive, that which is not authentic. Thus in order to reach them, Christians must first become zealously concerned about their own relationship with God. Although no one can be always consistent, we must enthusiastically endeavor to clean up our act. As we make these steps, each action becomes part of our story that will have the clear peal of a clarion. Once we have allowed God to sweep the clutter out of the dark recesses of our inner beings then we must make it our business boldly to proclaim to postmodernists that God can, and does make a difference in the heart and life of the person who honestly is willing to yield to Him.
I am suggesting that once the postmodernist is convinced of the authenticity of our story, and that of others, which appear to be replicas, he will see that the spiritual experience of humanity can be more than a random inspiration or intuition. When he sees genuineness multiplied, he will know that not just one but many have indeed found an Absolute. That Absolute is the God we know. At that point it will be our responsibility to introduce the postmodernist to our Absolute who can make him part of our experience. When he truly knows the Absolute then the absolutes of our faith will more easily be accepted.
by Dr. Gayle Woods