Traditions of Spirituality - Lesson 3
Modernity, Post-Modernity and the Church Today
In this lesson, you will explore the complex relationship between modernity, post-modernity, and the church. You will examine the characteristics and historical context of both modernity and post-modernity, as well as their impact on spirituality and religious practice. As you delve deeper into the topic, you will learn about the effects of rationalism and the scientific revolution on religion, and the emergence of new forms of spirituality in response to cultural shifts. Furthermore, you will gain insight into the influence of post-modern deconstruction and pluralism on the church, as well as the development of the emerging church movement. Finally, you will learn strategies for engaging with contemporary culture while balancing tradition and innovation in the context of faith communities.
Modernity, Post-Modernity and the Church Today
CH391-03: Modernity, Post-modernity, and the Church Today
I. Introduction to Modernity and Post-modernity
A. Definitions and Characteristics
B. Historical Context
II. Impact of Modernity on Spirituality
A. Rationalism and Scientific Revolution
B. Shifts in Religious Practice
III. Post-modernity and Its Influence on the Church
A. Deconstruction and Pluralism
B. Emerging Church Movement
IV. Responding to Modernity and Post-modernity
A. Strategies for Engaging Culture
B. Balancing Tradition and Innovation
- By studying this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of early Christian spirituality in the Apostolic Age, its development, key figures, and historical context.challenging cultural context.
- Gain insights into the Medieval Church and Reformation, exploring the interplay between religious traditions, key figures, theological debates, and socio-political dynamics that transformed spirituality.
- Through this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of modernity and post-modernity, their impact on spirituality and religious practice, and the challenges and opportunities they present for the church today.
- Gain deep insights into the Great Tradition of spirituality, its evolution, core principles, and the connections between diverse spiritual practices as you explore this lesson from Dr. Don Davis.
- Gain a deeper understanding of shared spirituality, its historical and cultural development, key concepts, practices, and beliefs, and how it can guide a meaningful spiritual life.
- By studying this lesson, you learn the importance of shared spirituality in church plant movements, its role in building trust and spiritual growth, and practical strategies for implementing and sustaining such movements while overcoming challenges.
- In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the Great Tradition, its historical context, and key components, ultimately learning how to apply these principles to your spiritual growth and Christian community.
Dr. Davis emphasizes the ways in which evangelical Protestants, especially those who are only loosely connected to a particular Church tradition, can be renewed and revived through a retrieval of the Great Tradition. Of great interest in this class are the elements, purposes, and ramifications of sharing a distinct spirituality grounded in that Tradition, and what the impact this sharing can have on our individual, family, and congregational lives.
We have much to cover, but I promise that the questions will be more pertinent and not just covering history as we go. The thing that that I think is very important is that before we talk about what kind of spirituality is worth reproducing in the city, that's really what this workshop is on. Of all the various forms of spirituality and theology that we we can see over the period of church history, those of us who love the city, who believe in Christ, who are trying to raise up a generation of people, who can make disciples, who will go on to make disciples, how are we to understand that? And I am going to argue that the only the only way to really have an intelligent conversation is to at least look at the range of alternatives and then at some point have a real conversation about whether or not we both in our own lives embody a spirituality worth reproducing and whether or not we are part of a tradition that we can identify that is worth reproducing. Guys, further in this course, I am going to make the claim that we have no evidence of God doing anything in a great way except through through traditions. I mean, if you look at what God is doing in terms of mission today, it is all done through traditions the most the most rapidly multiplying, the most aggressive, the most fruitful missionary movements in the 20th century were all traditional movements. They were either Southern Baptist or Assemblies of God, or there were people with an identity. Now, I'm not saying that we have to necessarily put our graft, our little tree into one of the Protestant branches. I am saying that if we really take seriously our call to represent Jesus Christ, it it behooves us to identify our place on the road of of Christianity.
We can't just sort of pretend that that that the Christian faith began with us in our Bible at home. That is not valid. So we're going to have to find a way to really identify ourselves in that. So I hope that you will hear this final thing of modernity, postmodernity and churches. The church today, my last sort of very poor, insane attempt to try to cover this much material of of, you know, this quickly. To deal with such remarkable movements on my mind. All Professor Bob Weber, who is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer, a dear brother to me who's written just many, many books, a person who single handedly influenced me when I was studying with him and back in in the late eighties at Wheaton. On the need to recapture the great tradition says that whenever you do historical thinking like this, you have to realize that that when you do it, that that that the regions of time are too rich to make any sense of anything. Now, one of the things that he says in the middle of this, for instance, it's hard to decipher when when somebody says, I'm going to talk about modernity and postmodernity, then immediately you say that person is just that's just idiotic. How on earth can anyone make a map of such a remarkably diverse movement? This is what Weber said with regard to life in the United States. For example, consider the many terms that could claim to define the current cultural climate, individualism, private ism, modernism, postmodernism, pluralism, secularism, subjectivism multiculturalism, cynicism, populism, consumerism, narcissism, entertainment, ism, violent, politically correct, ritually incompetent post Christendom and become and becoming in intimate ties, politicized and bureaucratized. Each of these terms identifies an important feature of modern North American culture.
The sheer number of these and related descriptions calls the attentive student of culture to resist simplistic analyzes. So I am not going to pretend that we can just sit down and just talk about modernity and postmodern. And yet that's precisely what I'm about to do because I'm a bold man. And you paid for a one day seminar, not a four day seminar. So I can really, in a way, I guess, blame us. I can blame my incompetence in dealing with this on your unwillingness to to study longer. Right. Three words for me. Y'all are a hard audience. Maybe you're just. Maybe you wake up. You know, I'm telling you guys that the 17th and 18th centuries really give a real understanding of how difficult Christianity is began. It is a tragic and bloody time. One of the strangest and foulest stews that you can see. Guys. There is more violence in Europe. More death, more civil war. More more churning than at any other time. There is more splitting of these various factions of, you know, at every level. I won't I won't quote the Federer quote. It would take too, too long. But you should just know that from the dissolution of parliaments to the assassination of of of monarchs. You know, in a real sense, this time of the 17th and 18th centuries really decimated a population of the I think you can really truly say that Europe has never got over the 17th century. It was so bloody and so vicious and all of it was due to religion. So Europe is just devastated because of religious violence. Guys, we're not talking about clean weapons of laser technology. We're talking about thousands of people in a field hacking each other to death.
So we're talking about nasty, vicious, bloody violence because people were really taking theological positions. It just completely brought the modern period in and into being, in a real sense, the division, the bloody war, the intolerance of the period right after the Reformation is just it's just stunning to me. If I don't know if you guys you probably don't have time, but you should really read the tragedy of the 30 Years War. It was just truly the most bloody time. There are scholars who will say that this is the worst time of European history. I mean, it was just so nasty and so many people were killed. It was just it was terrible, really. It was. It was. And it was a direct result of of the of of the opening of society due to the Reformation and these different clerics. It was a dramatic time of intolerance. Let me give you one example that will give you a sense of what was going on throughout Europe. Let me use England as an example. There was there was a real sense of of those who really during the English time, there were all kinds of commitment to of the difference between, frankly, the Protestant faith and the Catholic faith. And as a result of that, there were dramatic of skirmishes at every level in English society. It eventually actually led to the execution of King George Charles, the Westminster confession. The thing that we, you know, that many reformed people really love and hold to, we quote in many of our theological doctrine, the documents actually was created by the Assembly of Westminster that that was in battle with King Charles. And they actually he had disband parliament. They refused to disband that assembly, wrote a confession called the Westminster Confession of the Parliament and King Charles, the first went to war.
The king lost and they executed him. It was civil war over the Westminster confession. So it wasn't like clean, easy, comfortable theology that godly people just had. Some disagree. This was most of the European history of this time was really squabbles, anti Protestant reactions, all kinds of vicious cruelties. If you read many scholars, they will say that the emergence of the all of the inflexible spirits and the cruel orthodoxies that came out of the Reformation, that that is really what gave birth to the society, looking for some non-religious way to understand religion. If we had time, we could see that there is virtually no part of the church that did not in the 17th and 18th centuries go through unbelievable debates and disagreements. This includes the Roman Catholics, the Lutherans, the reformed. All of them were were, frankly, one of the polarizations. There were subgroups and subgroups of subgroups. As a matter of fact, I must give you guys this example. A fellow named George Callixtus, he was accused of syncretism. All he asserted as a Lutheran was that what we need to do is go back to the first five centuries and see what what all Christians agree to. Can we just do that? Let's just go back and see what all believers. There is a tradition, y'all. This is important. There is a tradition before all the other traditions. This is very important. There's a tradition before Lutheranism, before the Roman Catholic Church, before Orthodoxy, before all the various forms that different forms of Protestant worldwide. It it occurred in the first five centuries. Callixtus. Can we just go back there and find out what Christians really believed at that? And he was accused of being syncretism because frankly, you could not not take a side in the 17th century.
You know what I'm saying? Even if you made a great point, it's important that you choose a side. In your view, this was not just a sort of a generic choosing of the site. It resulted not only in doctrinal formulations, the Senate of Door, Westminster Confession, it related and just abject war. So this is very important for me. Yeah, I'm just a black man looking for what kind of Christianity should we reproduce in my neighborhood? I'm just being candid. Nobody can just say, Well, close your mind. Why don't you throw your mind in neutral and just do what the reformers did? Do I really want to reproduce that on the mean streets of Saint Louis? Maybe some of it. I do. Maybe some of it I don't. Y'all here? Me? I hope you understand. I'm just trying to be critical. I'm saying that I can't just uncritically take what they gave me any more and just accept. Because I don't think it's all reproducible. Frankly, some of it should not be reproduce, mean spirited, hard headed, sectarian, vicious theological ideology should not be reproduced in the city. Come on, y'all. You should agree with me. Missionaries especially. I want to know what you teach them. And what are you reproducing? Because if you're not clear, you can start a mess. The you what? I'm saying it. And frankly, I want to see. I'm just telling you the truth. I'm interested in that. That's why we're teaching this. Simmer down, Don. Simmer down. That just looks like red meat to me. I really do believe this. God has called me to be a part with my colleagues of starting a new Christian movement worldwide among the urban poor. I believe that's what God gave me. I think that's what we're called to do.
We're called to see tens of thousands of churches planted among unreached communities. And I want to know what sort of spirituality that we're going to reproduce in it. What's the theology and who justifies it? Who determines that? Are you the new Archbishop of the cities of America? And who anointed you that? I want to know, how did you think you got there? If you have doctrine, I want to see it out front. We don't want to walk into something that we don't know what we're dealing with. Let's see what you believe and what you understand. Dear friends, this is our call. This is what God has called us to do. Well, modernity, in a real sense, reacted against all this violence and religious bigotry, and they said no. And they made rationalism. The new ground as a major alternative to religious bigotry. You cannot you cannot read a scholar who will not recognize this. Look at the the the. I've got to read a part of it. It's just too important. On page 62 of your outline. So it's conflict. He's on a scientific versus a religious critique of scripture. Here's a guy who's talking about, okay, how all of this all of this war and everything, those who are studying the Bible said, you know, we need to move away from religion. Religion, We kill each other when we have religious difference, we start war, we get bloody. And so there was a whole new the whole birth of biblical criticism was a move to move beyond emotionally outside the limits of church controversy after the disaster and devastation of the 30 Years War in Europe and the civil war in England. Those were so devastating that even the way people read the Bible said we can't do it the way they did it anymore.
It's just it's ruined us. It destroys society. So. So there was a movement. By the way, Matthew, you can you can see the difference between these more mainline scholars and what you mentioned by my brother Mike in his course. They they they will say this is the common view of those who study history of this period. The thing that secularized Europe wasn't that we got the Bible in the hands of laypeople and they started reading in a sort of grassroots thing happened. Europe responded against the violence of this period and said, we don't want to have nothing more to do with religion. Religion has done nothing but divide us and kill us. And so we're done with it in that way. We study religion. We're going to do it scientifically. And that's why Europe gave birth to all the liberalism that we understand of. All of it came from Europe. I mean, because of this, I am convinced there were many in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were many non rationalistic approaches to this intolerance. As a matter of fact, I think you can make a real case that Quakerism with George Fox in partition with Philip Spooner in Germany and Methodism in England, were all reactions against a kind of a a kind of a bigotry. Let me just speak to Methodism. As you know, we don't have time to go into all of the different ways that responded. I just want I just want to want to make it clear, though, all of the violence of the 17th and 18th century. There were many people who said, look, we've got to read the Bible and experience Christ in some way that doesn't lead to us killing each other. There were many who had of other alternatives.
The Quakers, Spooner and others. And that's where we are at. The violence led to this. I think that that really the Wesley's are another wonderful example of really how God really preserved the church. John and Charles Wesley of my my professor Noel said in a lecture that he is convinced that if it weren't for them and what they did, that all of England would have went into civil war. John Wesley is arguably one of the most important persons in English history. Just forget about English religious history. He really, you know, in a way, was just he was just a unique brother, godly. These guys were just were just amazing guys. He and his younger brother, Charles, we know some of us know about his remarkable experience of a profound assurance of salvation on May 24th when he he he had this experience that it was as if, you know, he was just he was he was transformed as a result of this experience, profound confidence. And he hadn't had it before, even though, frankly, he had been a fine scholar, been a missionary to Georgia. He'd done some things. It was as a result of that experience of that. In some ways, he began to preach. And as a result of that, his preaching, which really was just very basic and evangelical, it was it was so heartening. He formed these holy clubs. He formed social groups all over, quite literally England, and told people to stay in your Anglican church. He never intended on forming some movement outside. He thought that would have been wrong and all he wanted to do was just refresh the Church of England. That's all he wanted. When they rejected him, he he had all these people and frankly, he just gathered them together.
They were called Methodists in a kind of a negative way. A Wesley is undoubtedly he could be called God's horseman. He traveled 5000 miles a year on horseback preaching the gospel. And from what I hear, the brother had a he could preach. You really it's really something to see this guy trodden all over. You know, he really frequently through what he did Olive of experience revival he affected everyone of the West. We was the West give me hope. Urban missionaries in this room because what he did it affected the entire church. I really honestly believe that what we do in our ministry can can bring revival everywhere. If we do this right, we can affect everyone. We shouldn't be afraid of affecting everyone. But he did. There was such revival that the Presbyterians, the Congregationalist, the Baptists, they were all affected, deeply affected. And Charles Wesley with my my main man, Isaac Watts, arguably the king and the crown prince of English hymn writing. He capitalized that good theology in those hymns. The point that I'm trying to make is that even in the midst of vicious cruelty and real turn in society, of even spiritualism, we didn't I don't have time to talk about some some of the example of the spiritualism that happened as a result of the post reformation period in Pain and Fox and others of all of these guys, you know, focusing on these things and even the period and those who sort of left the contestant lands for Manifest Destiny. We could put all of the great tricks of the Mennonites from persecuted lands to new places. Frankly, you can put a lot of the people's history in this room, in this right here. What happened during this period? What occurred? The point I'm trying to raise is that in the midst of confusion and violence and hyper hyper spiritualism and everything, God really did raise up a movement.
I think he can raise it up again today. The moment in the 19th century, if I could define this in one way, is the the emergence of Protestant liberalism. It is the time when when political upheaval and emerging democracy and free enterprise completely change. Everything was thrown into a tizzy. I mean, you had all of these different revolutions, the North American of revolutions, when our nation became a country. The French Revolution, the independence of Latin nations. All kinds of things have happened in the 19th century. All of them, or at least many of these movements, find their way in the Enlightenment. Dear friends, I've taken whole doctoral seminars on the Enlightenment. It is such a thick, rich, amazing thing. But all I can say is that what I gave you? Brownlee's quote There is a very tight and wonderful summary of what took place in the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. You had all kinds of different things coming about modern philosophy with Descartes, all kinds of empiricism, the emergence of science. You know, religion was sort of was sort of dumbed down in sort of a idealistic way, which influenced many of the founding fathers of of of America. Textual criticism had its beginning here. The Enlightenment in some ways is the beginning of the modern period. And on page 65, I give you some of the major movements of the 19th century. There the notion of the individual really came to birth are there in a way, in political doctrine, in religious, the humidity, everything changed. It was nearly as if that period of time invented the idea of the individual. There was the emergence of the toleration of all religions because of the viciousness and the violence in Europe. Most most of this period really emphasized toleration of religions.
There's no religion that gains primacy, including Christianity. There were idealistic notions of the divine God actually widens up the universe and keeps it going. I mean, this is very much a part of our own documents. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus is not mentioned in our documents, but the God who created the God who set all things in motion. That is the God. There are assertions about the divine right of kings against that. You can see in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, those determinations of Republic. There's all kinds of political revolution during the modern period. There are new philosophies that completely undermine Christianity's dominance. That's what that fancy phrase, new philosophies are undermined by the hedge money, the dominance of past religious ideology. All absolutist versions of Christianity are called into question during the Enlightenment, and there's a serious assault at the philosophical level on whether or not even God can be known. I mean, that is a matter of fact. On page 65 and following, I give you a litany what I take to be the most important response of of religion during this whole period of time in Europe is the emergence of Protestant liberalism. This gives birth to evangelicalism that we experienced today, which really was a reaction again, to this whole movement. Protestant liberalism began with the history of religion, schools in Germany and and and frankly, they went about a few by the skepticism of the Enlightenment to completely undermine Christianity. As we have come to know, Immanuel Kant conceived religion within the bounds of reason. Think about it, he wrote. He wrote prolifically. And I can tell you, I've never struggled intellectually more in my life than at at a seminar at Iowa when when I was I was I was sitting there.
I'm an evangelical. I believe in the final authority of the scriptures. When one of my professors, a philosophical theologian, said, I don't know where you're from, I don't know where you have been, but you are not going to make a single theological argument here using the Bible as your evidence. Now just imagine. I had no idea what I was going to do. How can I make a theological claim and not use the Scripture as the foundation to to undermine? You know, to do that? I mean, I remember how paralyzed I was. I was just terrified. What on earth have I got my black self into? Thank God I was able to wiggle out of. But I'm just saying that, guys, this is taken seriously today. You don't go to the top 20 schools of religion in America with a Bible in your hand. No, you don't. That's that Protestant liberalism is the dominant force in the study of religion at the at the NCAA division one level. If you go to USC or Notre Dame or, you know, University of Iowa, where I went or some, you know, Yale or Princeton or Emory or Duke or something like that, the point is, is that Protestant liberalism is shot through and controls much of what we do today. The influence of a fellow like Friedrich Salamanca, who essentially redefined religion in terms of the feeling of absolute dependance or hanoch of this great thinker who defined Christianity as a fatherhood of God, the value of the soul and the commandment of love or ritual. This guy who really essentially just made Christianity all all essentially just just basic human human, the human project of the man Jesus at the top of page 86 of 66. Very quickly, Rudolph Bjorkman, who completely just the mythical ethologist, the New Testament.
He had this vision of the New Testament. Rudolf Bookman, his most influential New Testament scholar in the history of the New Testament. He is he is the dominant scholar. And he said that Christianity in the old way of reading the New Testament is so flawed that the only way that we can really use the New Testament is to mythologize. There is a kernel of truth and we have to peel off all the husk of of fanciful ness that there is a heaven and earth and an idea of the earth and resurrection. That's foolishness. So we pull off the kernel and what's left is all that Christianity is. Or Paul Tillich, who is in fact the most significant. He's he's he's he ranks only in the top to me in the top five most significant intellectual Christian theologians of the 20th century who essentially boil religion down to just ultimate concern. All I am saying is that what happened in Europe essentially affected what we've done. You need to know that, ah, we are evangelicals, most of us, or we would associate ourselves with that. We need to see that evangelicalism was essentially a reaction to this movement and a kind of a new or thought orthodoxy that came out of it. And you can just go down to the great leaders. Charles Finney, Benjamin Warfield, thank you. Thank you very much. We're going to eat here soon. And Mr. Bigmouth, I've spent too much time on some of these things, so we're going to have to combine a few things. I am committed to getting you out when you said you were going to be out. But I just have to at least lay out this. I feel just wrong to talk about what we're going to talk about, you know, after lunch if I don't get these things in.
The point is, is that the evangelical reaction is we get we were we were burned in some way out of this, the Princeton school, George Hodge and all of that. The Shafer's the guys who wrote the fundamental C, f, H Henry, all the people, Moody Bible Institute. Much of the stuff that we understand as evangelical was a response to saying no to all of that Protestant liberalism. Do you understand? It was a it was a movement against that. We are not going to turn our backs on that. We are going to we are going to hold fast, frankly, to what what God almighty has said. I can tell you guys or Colbert to finish the story, Colbert saved me. Colbert. Colbert was the one of the leading liberal theologians of the early 20th century. He had been taught by them Butman. And all these guys were his professors. He was absolutely stunned One morning when he picked up the paper in Germany and saw all his professors endorsing Hitler. He was he was just in it, just killed. Here he is studying with these guys. Again, the book of Romans. He was studying the book of Romans. And it just completely he rediscovered the lordship of Christ that Jesus is the word. That's what what happened in this guy who had been trained by them began to write and comment and Bart became the Sherman tank that I could walk behind. You know, in grad school, wherever Bart went out went, Oh, yeah, I just went where he went, You know what? Bart's after these liberals who when they it how can you prove any of the thing in the in the Bible, Carl He said, you know the problem with you guys is that the Bible the Bible needs the right equipment to understand it.
You guys are trying to pick up satellite ways with transistor radios in A to you are personally trained. You can't understand, Jack. And I'm telling you, reading that, you have no idea what that did to me as a evangelical in a liberal place. You do not know. I have to defend my dissertation to people like Mike Bowman. If it weren't for Bart, I don't know what I would have done. So maybe this doesn't mean much to you. It means everything to me. It does. He help me. I wouldn't have made it. I would not have made it. I kid you not. I mean, it just. I think about it. And the terror. Here is this old German who, after all his life, one of the finest man. His church, dogmatic since the end of systematics. This multi-volume set. You know, when he's asked at the end of his life what is the most profound thing that you learn, Carl? You know what he said in thick German accent? Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so. Gotta love these girls. I completely identify with them. I do. I'm a part of them. I don't want, I don't know, one of these guys to be lost on me. I'm not going to be a sectarian. I'm telling you, I'm not. Colbert navigated this black boy through his life. So maybe this will mean much to some of y'all. I don't know if it does, but I'm telling you, depending on your view of church history, I feel. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But dear friends, make no mistake, I also feel William Kerry, who formed that, formed this church on the boat. Three months stay over to India. Y'all read about him. This guy was so, so powerful.
Well, what about J. Hudson Taylor? What about these men and these women? Of Great Awakenings. Jonathan Edwards in his great sermon. If it weren't for Jonathan Edwards, we wouldn't even have the Ivy League schools. Jonathan Edwards is the most significant American intellectual. He was an evangelical Christian. He was a powerful brother. Norman, the Catholic. What about Dale Moody with his broken English? He became so popular that the Oxford school had to ask him to come preach and his language is all jacked up. He's a street kid, y'all. Come on, now. Urban missionaries is a street boy. If you don't believe that somebody from the street can become a muti, then what we do in there, surely you should be able to see somebody in your city like that. Maybe somebody at the ranch is going to be a moody. Maybe they'll break their language, will be all jacked up. You know what I'm saying about the king? They don't they couldn't pass a Greek verb if it bit them on the leg. They don't know nothing. All they know is they've been changed. I'm going to put their name up here. I will Morning star people to be up here and dear Greek people to be in here. It's what you should expect. That's why I love Joe. We had a conversation another day talking about this for 30 years. Man, this beat in your heart. You should be in here. When I write my history, I put guys like that in there. I'm not going to just pretend that we don't belong and I'm not going to just create some Christianity for myself. I'm not. I'm not going to just act like these guys don't relate. They relate to us. Frankly, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham.
Billy Sunday. So raw in cause I'm very much like him. Nobody liked him. He he argued and spit and he was just flamboyant and kind of, you know, I if I had a nickel for every bad comment people have said about me, but I'm in the line of Billy Sandy, the the vulgar, spitting, stupid, coarse guy who just is filled with zeal and passion. And you ain't going. You know who Don't mind if you get up and leave his meeting. Come on, now. I don't mind. Frankly, I'm gonna teach this to the Toomey staff if they leave. So y'all gonna stay or look for another job? That's what I'm talking about. I'm saying at some point, at some point, we have to say, Do we belong in this line? Gill, Are other students at Toomey Saint Louis in this line? Can't we see them somewhere? Or they just out of that, you know, they in it, they're in it. They've got to be in it. It got to be. Sam, your students here, the guys you trained in prison. You know what I'm saying? They're in it. I'm serious. Let's that's. That's what it means to me. Don, you've just ruined your little outline. Let me say this. Go on page 67 and following. This is very important, the 20th century. Let me just give you a modern modernism of modernism was the beginning of science. And the key to that, I really honestly do believe that we've had some ways the greatest single evangelical movements during this period. Guys, I want to tell you, I think Tom Brokaw is right. I might want to say that the greatest single generation of of evangelical missionaries are about to die. And honestly, I don't know what we're going to do as a result of it.
We're going to do you guys know that in the 20th century, the vast majority of our missionaries were born in that century. We're going to lose. We're going to lose tons and tons of people who are right over me. They're just about to go. And really we're not. There's a great thing at Wheaton. I'll never forget this great board that shows all from from the forties, all the graduates of Wheaton College, they went into missions. The forties would have a whole class of people go on a mission. Everyone, all nurses, everyone in economics, all business grads, everyone. Everyone in the school went on a mission, guys. And then you look at the end of the nineties and there was like one or two people. I kid you not. They quit putting the numbers up because it was so star. When Tom Brokaw said that the forties and fifties were the greatest generation, some of my dear friends who are missing, who were missionaries and jobs in Nigeria, dear friends that I learned in Iowa City. Are they right now? They've been on the field for 25 years in the bush and then came over here and are teaching international students. Been doing that for 15 years or older. You know, just just dear people, very poor. They were out of style clothing. All their kids are solid. We're about to lose people like that. I don't really know if our church is going to give us another generation. People so shallow, so selfish, postmodernism has just sort of emerged something that is really we're in a we're in a new age. Guys from page 67. You'll find that in all the different sources. Again, I agree with Weber it's impossible to do this. But Darwin, in evolutionary science and decolonization, we've got the influence of Marxism and denominational upheaval.
All of those have have commingling with culture and politics and power and religion. The 20th century is just an amazing century. It's the bloodiest human century. It's, you know. Do you guys know that 90 some odd percent of all scientists who have ever lived or live today? Do you know that the population from Adam to World War Two has tripled since in our generation, since the end of World War Two? There are more people living today, four times as many as all the people that were living from World War Two. Back to Adam. If the Lord were to touch the urban poor, we would touch the greatest field of humanity in the history of humankind. Do you all realize that? There are more people alive. It's an amazing it's an amazing century. There are new emerging voices, black theologies in the church, feminist theologies, Latin theologies, mestizo theologies, warmness, theology. I'll put my own little funny work in there. I think there are evangelical liberation theology. I want to be, I believe, in an evangelical theology of freedom. I think we need to think in terms of a new theology for the city. But but also we see the fragmentation of conservative Protestantism. You know, really, Protestant liberalism gave birth to fundamentalism. Fundamentalism sort of gave birth to the reaction of evangelicalism. And evangelicalism has given a birth to a kind of a neo liberalism, on the one hand. And I think something that abides for us is a deep, deep call again, to the tradition. There is a wholesale abandonment of evangelical. Listen for the major. I don't know if you guys know this, but there are many, many very key scholars who are moving from evangelicalism back to traditional to mainline traditions of especially the Orthodox in the Roman Catholic.
One one fellow is one of the most prolific Presbyterian minister. I've followed his writings, brilliant writer. He just he just said, you know. You know, reading, reading his stuff is is a is a statement of who we are. We can't just be shallow anymore. We have to find ourselves again. The Roman Catholics have completely changed during this century Vatican to completely open up the Roman Catholic Church. It's literally like a new church. You know, it can it can fellowship with what they call other brethren now. There are new all kinds of of of dialogs between Roman Catholicism and the evangelical church. There's a lot of peril and promise in the 21st century to me, if you ask me what is the most significant religious movement in the 20th 20th century, I think we have to talk about third wave Pentecostalism. I think the charismatic movement is that greater inroads and greater impact on the church than any other single movement. I don't know if you guys would agree with that because it's touched everybody. You find Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, all forms of Protestantism, all of them are influenced by this new of focus on the Holy Spirit. There is, as I mentioned, I don't know if you guys recognized, but there's a growing animus in a very nasty characterization, at least in the west of conservative and Christian views on the airwaves. I'm not sort of a Republican ask whatever, and there is no cultural norms for me, but I'm saying it's very, very plain that our society is responding more and more antagonistic to just conservative and Christian views. As a rule, really, I have already mentioned the need for us to have new missionary movements and also the whole thing of the exodus of many solid evangelicals and the more liturgical traditions.
I really think, again, sort of associated with a real opportunity for the postmodern faith to emerge are the emerging churches. I don't care what anyone says about the musicality of the new hymn writers. They are ubiquitous. They are everywhere on earth. You can find now missions, articles, scholarly ones. We're in the most remote places and on the face of the earth, they are striking up Hillsong songs. It's a it's a it's a global phenomenon. It's to me, I think that's wonderful. Frankly, I'd like to put my own music in there, but. I like moving your eyes. Looks shady. I really do believe that if you look at all of these things, we're going to talk about the non church revolution and George Barna, but also the it's a it's an interesting church movement, the non church movement. But but then there's church planting movements, which we're going to talk about. And then there is there's always been this sort of uneasy conscience of fundamentals. What do we do with the poor and oppressed and the sick? Postmodernity is is the stepping off point for the next real move of the church. And on page 70, I give you what I take to be some of its major characteristics. I think that our church now, especially those who love Christ, we have to deal with this post-modern phenomenon. It is a rejection of modernity in its enslavement to rationalism. There is an explosion of interactive technologies. It's amazing the sort of technology we can form community today in ways that were not even drivable in Paul's time. Our perspective realism has replaced absolutes universals. There are really, for all intents and purposes, in many areas of society. No, no resurgence at all. There is an emergence of a culture of connectedness.
You have brand new communities that are that are connecting in in dramatic ways. And with the rise of terrorism and 911, you have a new demon ism in our society. Spirituality is now the alternative to formal religious commitment, as can be seen at the Oprah Winfrey Oprah Winfrey sort of phenomenon in the awareness of diverse religious opinion and viewpoints, probably more now than at any other time. All of this wrapped up with this fundamental doubt of any elemental ground. Now, to me, I must admit that this is one of the greatest and most troublesome times of all church history. And it's a great way for us to sort of to. In this section. What would you read along with me? What this one scholar says about postmodernism and its impact on what we are going to be dealing with now in our societies. That the postmodern challenge is simply stated, every attempt to describe what is meant is in fact only an assertion of what it means to me, or worse, what we will it to mean stated in these terms. The real issue comes to light. The question of authority and the locus of the Word of God are like Him saying, Where's our authority and how do we interpret the word? That's the great issue for us. The postmodern suspicion of hermeneutics of how to read the Bible leads exorbitantly to the suspicion of biblical theology. The contemporary crisis and interpretation is simply the last stage of the story, and in which biblical studies and Christian theology have gone their separate ways. The rift that divides biblical studies from theology will be bridged only if we develop a theological hermeneutic a way, a theory of interpretation informed by Christian doctrine. And if we simultaneously recover the distinctive contribution of biblical theology to the project of biblical interpretation, there's got to be a recovery if we're going to go for.