Tinkerbell Theology - Part 1|
Post Modern Church
Is your faith true because you believe it? - Or, do you believe it because it's true?
Although the above question may seem strange to some, it's not a bad question considering today's Christian culture. "It's true because you believe it" is revisionist reality or "Tinker bell Theology."
If you remember from the children's Disney classic, Peter Pan, just clap your hands and think happy thoughts. Then all will be fine for Tinkerbell the fairy. That's what this new paradigm shift has become.
It's also called "Post Modernism," a worldview taught to millions of kids ages 5 to 45. They don't live in the same world baby boomers and their parents grew up in, and we'd better learn how to adapt to it and teach within it. Not to do so could cost the spiritual lives of millions of our youth.
"We want a God without wrath who took man without sin into a kingdom without justice through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." (Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America).
Examples of Post Modern Views
Keep the State free from Church
An educated adult in our family told us that "everyone knows the Pilgrims escaped from England to keep the government free from religion."
"Huh?" we replied. "Where did you learn that? We were taught that the colonists came here to practice their religion free from the constraints of the King and a religion imposed by the State."
"That's just your point of view," she replied. "It depends on whether the historian believes his truth comes from the roots of a persecuted minority or from an imperialistic government. Your history books are wrong."
This is a classic example of revisionist history and Post Modernism. Truth has been redefined to serve a philisophical agenda.
Standards&Laws of Morality
My husband was stunned by a question from a good-looking 22 year old man in his Sunday school class: "Is it wrong for me to run through a stop sign if it's in the country and no one sees me?" he asked.
This suggests ethics from a utilitarian point of view. In other words, do not follow rules or laws unless others hold you accountable to them or that they serve a useful purpose that you deem worthy. Who cares what one does when he or she is alone?
How Did God Create the Universe&Do We Care?
Then there is our Christian neighbor who has attempted to discuss the Old / Young Earth debate such as those taught by Hugh Ross Ph.D. But, our neighbor is faced with apathetic believers who could care less whether they are taught about an earth created in billions or six thousand years ago.
It doesn't matter to many postmodern Christians, because to them there is no scientific "truth." Scientific truth depends on who teaches it and from where they come. Your truth is as good as mine. No one has the right to claim he has the truth exclusively.
How do Post Modernists react to the political activism nurtured by James Dobson, James Kennedy, or Janet Folger who authored The Criminalization of Christianity? These are Christian leaders who believe we must get back to following the Constitution and that we must teach the truths about which our founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence.
"Not so fast," our Post Modern youth proclaim. "The founding fathers were just deists who didn't believe in God's sovereignty over their lives. They were simply influenced by their culture and times. Their values don't apply to us today, and neither does the Constitution."
"Live and let live," quip post modern youth. "Don't judge lest you be judged."
Word of God
Then, how about teaching congregations to once again believe that the Word of God is our ultimate authority, authored by the Creator of the universe who teaches absolute standards of right and wrong?
"No way," post modern Christians may reply. "The Bible is just one book of many other holy books throughout the world. The Bible has many errors. You believe the Bible is God's Word because you were born in Western culture who teaches this to you. There is no absolute Word of God. No holy book or teacher has "the" truth."
Anti Intellectualism - a New Virtue
A devout, young business man in bible study waved his Bible in the air, "It isn't the book…it isn't here." "It's all in our relationship with God," he proclaimed as he clutched his heart.
I think the business man is trying to make the point that we should live what we preach and what we read. To that we would concur.
In the sixties and seventies, we were taught to maintain reverence for the Bible as the Word of God. Yet, here is our Post Modern Christian brother waving the Bible in the air as if it were anathema. To study the book too much may constitute a form of intellectual legalism which prevents bible students from achieving a loving relationship with their Father!
Yet, it is difficult to maintain a serious study of God's Word if post modern folk refuse to accept the Bible as their standard for truth. What happens too often is an endless discourse about what group members "feel" rather than what God says. Group dynamics tend to degenerate into chaos when there is no standard.
It seems we are faced with a new culture and a paradigm shift. It might be characterized as,
"In those days there was no king in Israel. Every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6, NASB).
The Demise of Christian Apologetics?
We aren't the only ones stunned by this paradigm shift. Josh McDowell, a premier apologist of the 20th century, was shocked to find that his lifetime work of providing clear historical and scientific evidences for the historicity of the gospel accounts and for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, mean very little to a generation brought up with revisionist reality and Post Modern views.
McDowell addresses this clearly in his 2006 book The Last Christian Generation. This is must-reading for all of us who came from the Modern era - where the Hal Lindsey's prophetic evidences and the Josh McDowell's historical evidences played a major part in our conversions
Absolutes are Immoral - A New Standard
In this new world, nothing is true - there are no absolutes. To proclaim that Jesus is the only way to God is heretical and immoral to our Post Modern society. In the not too distant future it could get you thrown in jail for "hate crimes." In fact, think: Chinese "Thought Reform Camps" in the 1960s. They are coming our way.
Everything is relative - meaning no absolute truth: history, science, religious beliefs, political views, and cultural practices. Everything we do, everything we think, depends on the worldview and culture into which we are born.
In essecne, all of us are products of an anthropological phenomena. There is no one truth. Rather, we believe according to the views of our culture in the times into which we are born.
Man Decides His Fate
Man decides his own fate, not God. Never mind that Acts 17:26 tells us,
"He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation," (NASB). The post modernist discounts these very words with the dismissal, "You are just saying what you are taught in the U.S - what you are taught by a Western Christian culture."
Terrorism or Imperialism
While many Christians believe our country is fighting just wars against terrorism, other countries accuse us of "Imperialism." In the Post Modern world, both are correct. To the post modernist, the incorrect view is to state dogmatically that terrorism is right or wrong.
Post modernity causes people to quit believing their culture is superior to another. We are to celebrate all cultures and lifestyles no matter how backward, cruel or destructive they may be. There is no such thing as objectivity, there is overwhelming disconnectedness, and there is a leveling of hierarchies in society, as Chuck Smith Jr. points out in his 2001 book, The End of the World as we Know It.
While Chuck Smith Senior founded the fundamentalist Calvary Chapel churches, his son grew up in a Southern California world of Disneyland, convertible cars, and luxury homes by the sea.
Having grown up in Southern California ourselves, we clearly understand the disconnected apathy which is homegrown in such an area. This area spawns multiculturalism, greed, and a post modernist outlook on life. It is an outlook that puts the "self" above everything else. And this outlook is firmly planted in our Churches today.
Favorite Post-Modern Bible Verse
While the emphasis of Modern believers used to be characterized by the Scripture "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (Jn. 14:6), the Post Modernist now quotes, "Judge not that you be not judged" (Mt. 7:1).
Indeed, if a Fundamentalist quotes John 14:6 or John 3:16 and declares that Jesus is the only way to God, he risks ostracism from his peers. This may occur in college or on the job, and he may be jailed for hate crimes in our uncertain future.
A Post Modern believer is not "correct" in portraying Christianity as exclusive or separate. He is forbidden to preach against sexual immorality, especially premartial sex or against any other lifestyle that is defined by sexual behavior.
Gay parades? Don't say anything against it. The cross saturated in urine as "art?" Don't criticize the medium or the artist. Premarital sex, "you must be kidding," The Palestinian suicide bomber who kills Jews? Don't judge them. The Taliban who executes woman? Don't criticize their culture. Going to Heaven? Don't be exclusive.
The New Untouchables
If you dare to hold standards of morality against injustice and cruelty, if you dare to proclaim Jesus as the only way to Heaven, you are considered as unworthy in the popular culture. You may also be treated as non existent with chilling, callous disregard.
How do we know this? We know it because we have experienced it ourselves firsthand, sometimes from close family members. We also see it in the international news. Contempt. Utter, disinterested, contempt, as if Christians and Jews who take the Scriptures seriously are those who live beneath the radar screen - considered unworthy to exist, ostracized in bitter revulsion.
Think of it: Islamic terrorists are tolerated. Loudspeakers blasting Islamic calls to prayer five times daily are tolerated in some middle American towns. Suicide bombers, who rip apart the bodies of Jewish families, are tolerated. Beheadings are tolerated. But what is NOT tolerated are Biblical Christians&Jews! - The modern equivalent of India's Untouchables.
In China we have heard that atheists harvest the organs of Christian believers for transplant purposes. That is the only "good" that Christians serve in their society, according to the persecutors.
In the Sudan, Christian women are raped and families are murdered. Do we hear an outcry against this? In Moslem countries Christians and Jews are singled out and beheaded or killed by suicide bombers. And we suspect it will get worse.
Jesus warned us.
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18, NKJV). "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).
We need to come to grips with this theology of persecution if we are to survive in this new paradigm of ABCs - Anything But Christianity!
The Spirit of Anti-Christ
Has it occurred to you that this Post Modern culture may be prelude to the one-world government of the antichrist? The antichrist's world will be a place where all are given a "mark on their right hand or on their forehead….where no one will be able to buy or to sell" anything unless they have this mark and give allegiance to the antichrist (Revelation 13:16-17).
Could computer chip-implants, such as those made by the Florida Corporation Digital Angel, be the forerunner to the prophesied Mark of the Beast during the coming Tribulation period?
In a world where food sources such as cows, sheep, and chickens may be micro chipped, and where corn and wheat are plundered of their life-giving reproducible seed and are controlled by corporations, to survive means citizens must follow the dictates of ruling corporate aristocracies. These hostile aristocracies may be governments or transnational corporations. Either way, Christians who preach "absolutes" are anathema!
We are "intolerant of intolerance." That is the motto of the Post Modern world.
No Jobs, No Homes, No Futures
Our postmodern youth cry out that they fit in nowhere and they have nothing to look forward to. In case one believes our postmodern youth are exaggerating their plight, consider the following: Their education means little in a world where outsourcing hijacks American jobs and gives them to PhDs in India who work for 1/4 the pay, with zero benefits, and without environmental restrictions and onerous taxes on the corporations who left the U.S.
Many young people have moved back in with their parents because they can not afford high rents. They can't afford million-dollar homes. Even if real estate should plunge to half its current value, young folks maintain that they can't afford these homes or the property taxes. Therefore, they realize they will never own their own homes.
Many postmodern people choose not to marry or to have children. They have seen lives destroyed and children played like "pawns" in hostile marriages. They want none of it.
Consumer Clones&Debt Junkies
Post modern youth feel that they are valued only as consumers. And they are correct. Post modernists, targeted and manipulated by Madison Avenue, find themselves buffeted by hostile forces designed to keep them in heightened competition with one another for toys, techno-gadgets, clothes, make-up, and perfect bodies.
They desperately want and need to hear that there is more to life than this. We need to affirm to them that "what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). One's life does not consist of becoming good consumer clones and debt junkies!
McDowell, Josh. 2006. The last Christian generation. Holiday, FL: Green Key Books.
Smith, Chuck Jr. 2001. The end of the world as we know it. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.
Holy Bible, Scofield Study System, NKJV. 2002. NY, NY: Oxford University.
Authors Kenneth Emilio holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. Valorie received the MA in History from UCLA focusing upon early church history. Both earned a V.O.M. Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. They believe they are just a "vapor" that appears for a little while and must make the most of days remaining (Jas 4:14; Eph 5:15).