The Postmodern 'New Church:' a trendy mausoleum for the children of unbelief

In his book, "The Truth War," John MacArthur writes that all 'true' truth, as opposed to man's rationalizations and feelings passed off as truth, begins with what is true about the living, supernatural God.  Truth is what His will approves, what His holiness entails, what His mind knows.  Truth then is determined and properly explained by the being of God, thus by extension,

"A biblical perspective of truth also necessarily entails the recognition that ultimate truth is an objective reality.  Truth exists outside of us and remains the same regardless of how we may perceive it.  Truth by definition is as fixed and constant as God is immutable." (MacArthur, p. xx)

God has revealed Himself and His truth with clarity.  Even apart from the explicit revelations of the Bible beginning with the Genesis account of creation, God has made sufficiently clear some of the principle elements of spiritual truth to all people through creation and conscience (Romans 1:19-20, 2:14-16) so as to leave the entire human race without excuse.(Roman's 1:20)

This being the case, all those who are condemned in the final judgment said MacArthur,

"...will be held responsible for rejecting whatever truth was available to them....a just and righteous God holds unbelievers and believers alike responsible for obedience to His revelation is irrefutable proof that He has made the truth sufficiently clear for us.  To claim that the Bible is not sufficiently clear is to assault God's own wisdom and integrity." (pp. xxi-xxii)

Yet today tens of thousands of people who call themselves Christians claim to follow Jesus but reject His truth, claiming instead that personal feelings and experience are more important then revealed truth.  These Christians are adherents of today's contemporary or postmodern 'new way of doing church.' 

in 'Postmodern Youth Ministry,' Tony Jones, a leading contemporary and/or emergent pastor says:

"Stop looking for some objective truth that is available when we delve into the text of the Bible." (Emerging Church/New Spirituality: Part 3 Postmodernism,

In agreement, Brian McLaren says:

"Arguments that pit absolutism versus relativism, and objectivism versus subjectivism, prove meaningless or absurd to Postmodern people." (ibid)

Postmodernism is a reaction against the 'modern' age of Enlightenment which began around the beginning of the 18th century and lasted until about 50 years ago.  The Enlightenment was a philosophical, intellectual and cultural revolution that elevated the mind of man--his reason, logic, and criticism over the mind of God together with superiority of empirical scientific thought  over doctrine and creeds, which were dismissed as blind faith and superstition.

Modernism represented the pursuit of absolutism (i.e. Darwin's absolute law of natural selection), the empirical method as the only reliable way to determine truth, and rationalism (mind of man over God).

The Modern mind dismissed the idea of the supernatural, miracles, and even man's soul and sought scientific and rationalistic explanations for everything.  According to John MacArthur:

"Those presuppositions gave birth to Darwinism, which in turn spawned a string of humanistic ideas and worldviews.  Most prominent among them were several atheistic, rationalistic, Utopian philosophies - including Marxism, fascism, socialism, communism and theological liberalism." (p. 9)

Overconfident rationalism, human conceit, arrogance, men usurping the throne of God---all of this characterized the Modern era which finally issued in organized hatred of God---a universal totalitarian atheism that unleashed catastrophic destruction and rivers of human blood during the 20th century.

As noted previously, postmodernism is a reaction against the modernist mindset characterized by arrogance, inflexibility, omniscient reason, the need to be right at any cost coupled with the burning desire to be in control which brought the world to the brink of disaster.  Postmodernism therefore reflects a loss of confidence in the power of human reason and scientific inquiry to understand the nature of true reality.  

With the rise of postmodernism our view of man, of what we can and cannot know, of reality and the world changed, said business management guru Peter Drucker in the introduction to his 1957 book ‘Landmarks of Tomorrow.’ At some unmarked point during the last twenty years we have moved out of the Modern Age,

" ....and into a new, as yet nameless era.  Our view of the world changed…. There is a new spiritual centre to human existence." (ibid,

With Pilate, postmodern thinkers derisively ask, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38) and claim therefore that we can't be certain about anything, including God's self-revelation through the scriptures.  In his book, "A Heretic's Guide to Eternity," Spencer Burke, expresses this uncertainty:

"I’m not sure I believe in God exclusively as a person any more." (ibid)

Postmodern thinker Peter Drucker played a key role in the development of the contemporary 'new way of doing church' formulated by Bill Hybels, Rick Warren and countless other contempory 'new church' gurus and slavishly cloned by thousands upon thousands of infatuated pastors.   In "Peter Drucker's Mega-Church Legacy" Herescope (Discernment Research Group) reports:

"One perhaps unexpected example of Druckerism is the modern mega-church movement. He suggested to evangelical pastors that they create a more customer-friendly environment (hold back on the overt religious symbolism and provide plenty of facilities). Bill Hybels, the pastor of the 17,000-strong Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, has a quotation from Mr Drucker hanging outside his office: 'What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?'" ("Trusting the teacher in the grey-flannel suit" The Economist, Nov 17th 2005, Herescope, November 18, 2005)

The Drucker-style contemporary church model de-emphasizes immutable truth, moral absolutes, Original Sin, hell, confession, repentance, vertical spiritual growth, apologetics, and traditional hymns and proposes instead a horizontal approach tailored for unbelievers and their felt-needs rather than for the spiritually-mature.   This way of thinking is in keeping with the belief of the postmodern Church that theology must be constructed from human experience, needs, desires, and passions and not from divine revelation.  For postmodern pastors there is no supernatural authority that determines truth, moral absolutes, the shape of theological vision, or doctrine.  They hold in contempt statements of faith, appeals to transcendent Authority, definition, rules and doctrinal boundaries and reject any concept of certain, objective, and universal knowledge as well as all who profess them.  These people, the most spiritually mature, are most generally disparaged, marginalized and ridiculed as 'traditionalists.'

In this light it makes sense that Hybels solution was to poll unbelievers and tailor Sunday morning service to their expressed needs. What unbelievers want is to feel unthreatened as well as entertained in a creative, humorous, culturally relevant atmosphere,

" ... a place designed for [the unbeliever]. We have put a lot of time and thought into what non-churched people want from a Sunday morning service. And we have concluded that they basically want four things: (1) anonymity; (2) truth presented at an introductory level; (3) time to 'make a decision'; and (4) excellence in programming, creativity, humor, contemporary [worship], relevancy, etc." ( Hybels' 1990 message: "Who We Are at Willow Creek.")

Thousands of postmodern people attend Willow Creek's "seeker sensitive services" where they can dress down and dine on earthly bread without guilt or shame. There is no room for heavenly bread in Willow Creek-- no uncomfortable sermons against sin, nothing about judgment, and no call for repentance.

Instead 'worshippers' are lavishly entertained by a 20-piece "Christian" rock band with laser lights and an elaborate sound system, energizing pop-rock singers, multi-media displays, plays, stories and thin gruel punctuated by jokes geared to those who are investigating Christianity. To further entice the seeker-sensitive crowd there are darts, basketball, and coloring for the youngsters, a massive food court and a fully-out-fitted exercise gym. (Bill Hybels, Biblical Discernment Ministries)

As is the case with all postmodern 'new church' formulas, the Hybels model weaves the reigning secular system of the world with the sacred, the dark with light, thereby compromising the Revealed Word and rejecting the proposition that truth "by definition is as fixed and constant as God is immutable." (MacArthur, p. xx)

As its focus is on supplying unbelievers with earthly bread, there is no heavenly bread, hence no possibility of renewing the spirit of the mind (Ephesians 4:23-24):

"The spirit is the human spirit, having its seat in and directing the mind...The renewal takes place, not in the mind, but in the spirit of it. "The change is not in mind psychologically, either in its essence or in its operation; and neither is it in the mind as if it were a superficial change of opinion either on points of doctrine or practice: but it is in the spirit of the mind; in that which gives mind both its bent and its materials of thought. It is not simply in the spirit as if it lay there in dim and mystic quietude; but it is in the spirit of the mind; in the power which, when changed itself, radically alters the entire sphere and business of the inner mechanism" (Vincent's Word Studies).

The spirit of the mind that has not been renewed walks according,

" the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief." Ephesians 2:2

In the final analysis, the postmodern church is not a place of life but of death.  It is a trendy, culturally relevant mausoleum for the children of unbelief.

@Linda Kimball