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Running head: REACHING PEOPLE FOR CHRIST

How Can I Reach People for Christ With a Post-modern Mindset Heidi Shank-Bridges Liberty University

Reaching People for Christ

Abstract Just because I have an opinion about a particular subject or topic, does not mean anyone else will have the same opinion, point of view or opinion. Post-modern people are those people who are not satisfied with conventional ways, they understand what reality is and what truth is, yet they reject the very idea that there is such a thing as absolute truth and reject any institution that claims they have truth. Postmodern people believe the truth is what they experience personally. Post-modern people are tangible people, if they can witness it by any of their five senses then it is truth to them, but if they cannot see, smell, taste, feel or hear it, it is not truth. Post-modern people are the group, because of their own belief, feel as if not only religion has let them down so has science and they rely on themselves for what they believe to be true. To reach a post-modern person with a post-modern mindset is going to require much skill and commitment. In addition, it is going to require creativity which will likely be the most integral part of the task in achieving this goal. With people of all mindsets turning away from Christ today, reaching the post-modern will certainly prove to be challenging. That being said, it is not impossible.

Reaching People for Christ

When we are looking at the post-modern mindset and how to reach people who are of this mindset, it is necessary to understand what a post-modern mindset is and how it came to be. The past 2000 years, divided into three time periods. The first is the pre-modern world, up to approximately the 17th century, the modern world, from the 17th century to the late 20th century, and the postmodern world, which will be from the late 20th century and upward from there. People living in the pre-modern world believed in and accepted the mythology and the supernatural; however it was acknowledged as a spiritual hierarchy and it was understood that God ruled over everything and everyone including the kings, and any authority was obeyed and there were no questions. Then the modern age arrived and human values began replacing religious values. People began an era of free thinking and mans status was defined by his achievement. God was removed from society and man relied on science and reason to explain miracles of the world. Moderns rejected disciplines such as theology because things such as Love, God, and Justice could not be tested and proven to exist by science. Eventually, Immanuel Kant made popular a belief that knowledge is a matter of interpretation. With realism being subjected to interpretation, people began to develop their own individual way of life. Although there were philosophers who attempted to explain that miracles and important issues in life cannot always be explained by science, the perception of the people did not agree and were searching for pure truth. From that the world of post-modernism began. In the 1960s a new generation of people emerged and began to call into question the results of reason and of science. At this time in the world, homosexuality and abortion were legalized which eventually lead to the world of pornography. Families were falling apart, divorces were many, and people were doing what they thought was right according to what they thought was right. By living this way with this mindset no one gave any thought to the

Reaching People for Christ consequences for living as they saw fit or that they had a right to live the way they wanted. In

D.A. Carsons book, Telling the Truth, Ravi Zacharias in his essay entitled An Ancient Message, Through Modern Means to Postmodern Mind, explains the consequences best by painting the picture of consequences for this type of living in this statement: Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault may well be the definitive bookends of this twentieth century. Both brilliant yet tragic figures...Michel Foucault...was a leading French intellectual who by virtue of a very promiscuous life, died of AIDS at the age of 58. He was a lover of Nietzsches writings, who ironically had died at 54, in the wake of his pitiful bout with venereal disease and insanity. (Carson, 2000 p. 20). With the world of technology today, it stands to reason that the most obvious place to reach anyone, including post-modern people is through internet services and social media. By using social feeds and internet one is able to cover a world wide range of people. In the world we live today, there are still churches that refuse to utilize the internet as a research tool much less a way for the church to reach non-believers and discourage their congregation from doing so as well. I find this to be unfortunate for not only the church but for communities and people that can be reached. There are a large number of resources of information available on the internet to include Christian Theology. For example, we all know who Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Creflo Dollar are because they and their churches are visible on the internet and basically all social media websites as well as television. They are also known throughout the world because they are reaching people all across the world, and many have begun Christian ministries in other countries by simply using the internet to spread the gospel. Ravi Zacharias is speaking in general terms in the essay entitled, An Ancient Message, Through Modern Means to Postmodern Mind by elaborating on the Window of Opportunity. In

Reaching People for Christ this essay, Ravi asks a very important question : How do we communicate the gospel to a

generation that hears us with eyes and thinks with feelings? He sees post modernization as an opportunity to present the gospel because they have cleared the playing field since all disciplines have lost their a uthority with modernism underscoring in Reason and Science (Carson, 2000, p. 26). He discusses how these are the people who still hunger for spirituality, regardless of all their material gains, the desire of a postmodernist has not reduced in this area. Ravi offers five suggestions on how we can help reduce the confusion. 1) We should not portray postmodernism as such a discouraging task, 2) Do not give too much credit to the argumentation of reason, 3) Take the gospel to its highest point of understanding into a worshipping community because one of the most powerful appeals to the postmodern mind is a worshipping community, 4) Be observant to Gods intervention in history. For example, the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, after that tragic event, churches everywhere were full to the point of capacity, and 5) We are to use the authority and dominion God has given us, Matthew 11:15 tells us He who has an e ar, let him hear (Nelson, 2004). If we, as Christians have an opportunity to speak the word of God, we need to boldly speak his word before the window of opportunity closes on us and we miss out. Having said that, one who speaks needs to ensure that he or she is confident in the knowledge for which they spea k. If one is speaking what they think they know about Gods word and not what is truly meant by Gods word then window of opportunity has been missed as well because what was spoken was not fruitful. Enlightenment by definition is the understanding and spread of knowledge. If we, as Christians are going to enlighten those who have an ear to hear, we must know what we are transmitting. Chapter four of Carsons book is an essay entitled, Epistemology at the core of

Reaching People for Christ Postmodernism: Rorty, Foucault, and the Gospel, there is a small section that caught my

attention entitled: What is Enlightenment?, Foucault believed that without truth, we would still be able to be free. Additionally he believed that all things with limits are surpassable. Foucault was always seeking an opening to escape from exact limits of things that were absolute, necessary, and universal. He analyzed these things that governed, defined, confined or restricted how one feels or acts. Foucault felt such things were not needed but if not adhered to it violated moral principles. This is why he spoke against anything that Kant did because these are the very principles that Immanuel Kant was trying to build up, although Kant did not elevate his belief to a point of absolution, only to the point where he sought to regain his theory of knowledge. Foucault is of the belief that truth is not something discovered but rather something that is planned or made with its own competitive agenda (Carson 2000, pp.79-85). From this we learn that there ar e two ways in which to live, our way or Gods way. Within chapter 6 we see that there are two ways to live and Jensen and Payne expound further in this area. In this chapter the writers compare America to Australia in regard to religious beliefs and freedoms. They determined that America in general is stated to be within the grasp of postmodernism. The many reasons for this is that there is a growing lack significance as it relates to theism, a reduction in biblical understanding, the absence of morality, and the feeling that truth and knowledge are not obtainable. Americans compared to Australians are free to express their religious freedoms. For example, American money is stamped with the phrase In God we Trust implying that God is the American her o to this country, while the heros in Australia are gold -diggers and outlaws. Americas national song is God Bless America, wherein the national song in Australia is Waltzing Matilda, a song about a hobo who steels sheep, gets caught and charged by the law and eventually commits

Reaching People for Christ suicide. Australias capital is Sydney. Sydney holds an annual celebration for Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parades which is promoted and actually endorsed as the leading cultural event of the year. What is more shocking is that hundreds of thousands of people attend this event every year. The difference between the students in the two countries is that while American college students in Australia know what the Bible is, they do not know what paganism or postmodernism is. In the same respect, Australia college students are illiterate when it comes to any knowledge of the Bible. The challenges facing Australia are many and great when it comes to evangelism because although they have American Christian students there who could assist, some of the students who come in with knowledge learn new subjects such as postmodernism and are eventually swept away to a new way of thinking because they have become confused about the gospel and succumb to alternative gospels.

To accomplish this goal, they have developed a theory to attempt to evangelize entitled Two Ways to Live. We can live our way, or Gods way. There are six basic points in the two ways we have to live and certainly we have seen throughout this book that we have free will, we are at will to make our own choices but what we have not seen up to this point in the book is that our choices have consequences, whether negative or positive is up to us. When we live life our way, we live a life that is unguided, without righteousness, and unprotected. When we live Gods way, we have promises, eternal life, grace, forgiveness and new mercy every day. The six points for living are simple doctrines which are linked together with a systematic theological system, in that they are creation, atonement, sin, judgment, response of repentance and faith.

Reaching People for Christ The outline presented in the text is symbolic of the story of the Bible. God is the ruler who created man to rule the world under his authority. Man rebels and is judged, and it was

only when the Last Adam perfectly submits, then and only then did Gods rule come so that the human rule could be restored and fulfilled in the person, Jesus Christ. In summary, there are two very basic ways to live and have the very basic functions we need to know the word of God and to share the word of God with everyone (Carson 2000, pp.102-110). The original question for this assignment was: How can I reach people for Christ who have a post-modern mindset? I still believe that one must know what a post -modern mindset is and how the development came to be, but as I read through many essays within the book, I was able to obtain various ideas about just how I could reach post moderns. I will start by understanding when cultural focus changes two things can happen: we can lose our focus on God or we can discover who he is and what he can do as well as the life he has to offer us. (Carson, 2000 p.25). In this post-modern world today, words do not appear to have the same affect that they used to have on us. People use words today in such a matter of fact manner that I have to wonder how their focus was lost. Words like, homosexuality, addiction and pornography are tossed around today more than ever before because these words do not affect us as they would have ten or twenty years ago. Today these words appear to be acceptable even in some churches (which I find disturbing). The media plays a large part in generalizing these topics to the point where our children are not affected by them. In addition to the media, parents are to blame as well because they are not paying attention to what their children are watching, who their childs friends are, and e ven what type of music they are listening to. If we are going to

Reaching People for Christ

reach the children of today, the parents of today need to step up and pay attention to what their children are listening to on the MP-3 players, Ipods, and where they are going on the social media websites on the internet as well as who they are talking to on the internet. In other words, parents need to step up to their role and parent their children and stop trying to be their childs friend. One of the absolute most important things I learned is that I cannot reach anyone postmodern or not if I myself do not know the gospel, therefore studying the word of God and knowing it to me is the first most important step to take. I now have a clearer understanding of the meaning of He who has an ear, let him hear. as explained in the book by Ravi Zacharias. As it was also explained by Ravi Zacharias I have learned to not portray postmodernism as if it is something I will dread with a discouraging mindset. I will not give too much credit to the argumentation of reason and not spend time arguing with someone over what they cant see or why what they cannot see is real, I will explain to the best of my ability why the gospel is real and why I believe in it and how the guidance of Gods word has brought me thus far in my own life. I will take the gospel to its highest point of my understanding into a worshipping community. I never thought or gave thought to this area but it makes sense to me that a community of people who believe in the same thing can be a powerful convincing tool. Lastly, I will certainly be observant to Gods intervention in history. I spoke of the example of how churches filled up across this country three months ago when the elementary school was invaded by an armed gunman. The book used the example of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa. I see now that I can take a closer look at history and just how God intervened and utilize those times as well, history that whoever I am trying to reach can relate to also. I

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believe if someone can relate to what I am saying, they are more likely to listen to what I have to say than if they cannot relate to me at all. Speaking from a technological point of view, I would utilize the internet and social media feeds to reach as many people as I could. Not necessarily because I feel like it is just what everyone else is doing or that I am such a computer queen (I am not), but because I can see the benefit of reaching people this way. On one hand I can see people using the internet as an excuse not to go to church if they use their computer viewed church experience as their own church experience, however the flip side to that coin is that there are people who are physically unable to leave their homes, who is evangelizing to them? Who is reaching out to them with the word of God? This enables the physically handicapped individuals and opportunity to attend church without leaving home, if they have a computer they can send in their own prayer requests and can still have a word from God. Twenty years ago, this was not an option, now technological advances allow this option to be available. The other benefit I see about using the internet to reach postmodern people and anyone else with the word of God is that some people dont know how they feel about God. Many people know how they feel about church and church members, but they dont really know how they feel about God. If they are in the privacy of their own home, no one has to know that they are learning what the word of God has to say to them and they are not feeling pressured to make a decision. By receiving the word of God, they may get to a point where they will receive God and eventually begin to search for a Bible-based church. I believe that there are many people, post-modern included, who are currently using the internet because it allows them the freedom to hide their identity until they are ready to reveal themselves.

Reaching People for Christ Church people can be hurtful people and when someone in the church hurts you, it is a

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deeper hurt because we tend to bare ourselves to our church families and we can from time to time be transparent with our church families, so when we are transparent and a church family member hurts you with your own confession, one can develop a negative attitude about the church as a whole and not anyone member. Everyone does not spiritually mature at the same rate and these things are going to happen, but as you grow and learn you understand that when something like this occurs you dont run away from the church, you take you r hurt to the person who hurt you, forgive them and let go and let God handle it. Again, this comes with a level of spiritual maturity and as a maturing Christian, the first thing that we need to learn is that maturity comes in many levels everyone is not going to be where you are is their walk with God. In summary, regardless of our beliefs, when it comes down to it, we have beliefs that we are not certain about. For example, up to a certain age in life, we all believed in Santa Claus because someone taught us about him, many times before we heard the real story about Christmas we heard about Santa Claus. For many of our younger years we believed that this man rode around the world in a sleigh that was driven by eight tiny reindeer and he delivered presents to every single boy and girl in the world in one night. Now that we are adults we clearly know that this is not true and by adulthood the majority of us stopped believing in Santa. The bottom line is that there will always be things in life we will be uncertain of, some more so than others. It is the evidence itself about things or subjects that determine what our level of certainty or uncertainty is going to be. Given the choice today, most people believe all

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of what they see in something or they believe nothing, if there is not enough evidence to prove the contrary. It is my belief that once we are well-equipped and knowledgeable in the word of God, we can reach anyone, post-modern or not, because our lives and the way we live can be the convincing evidence that needs to be seen to convince someone just how great our God truly is and why his truth will and should always reign.

Reaching People for Christ References Carson, D. A. (2000). Telling the Truth, Evangelizing Post-moderns. Grand rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Nelson, T. (2004). Holy Bible, King James Version. Penfold, M. J., Postmodernism. Retrieved from http://www.webtruth.org/articles/postmodernism-35.html, April 7, 2013

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