Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The Users Guide to Postmodern Christianity" by Steven Kozar

Step one is essential: "Get in the loop!" What does this mean, you ask? Well, this thought pattern is almost everything you'll need to stay clueless within the confines of Postmodern Christianity. Once you start thinking this way, you'll never get out of "the loop." It goes like this:

     "Mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental people are bad, and whatever they believe is instantly invalidated by the fact that they are judgmental, narrow-minded, angry and mean. I get to decide if, and when, they are mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental."

Once you're safely in this loop you won't need to carefully consider the truth claims of another believer with their precious little Bible verses. And, thankfully, you'll never have to learn anything about the theology and creeds that have been passed down for almost two thousand years. Remember, there are still old-fashioned Christians who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, and they are mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental. These dinosaurs want to conduct church the same old way and cling to antiquated beliefs that are out of step with today's social climate. You can easily ignore these people if you're "in the loop." Before you know it, you will have completely dehumanized them and-best of all-you'll never even realize that you've been the judgmental one all along! 

To follow step two, say something like this: "That may be true for you, but it's not true for me." In days of old, this was only used for superficial matters, like one's preference of Mary Ann to Ginger. Nowadays this simplistic catch phrase serves a vital new purpose: it enables anyone to ignore God's Word with impunity. It used to be that a Christian couldn't just go around rearranging and reinterpreting the Bible, but now it's easy! You may substitute similar catch phrases like "I just feel like it's not wrong for me" or you can even quote the great Bible verse "What is truth? asked Pilate..."

Step three, in case you haven't already figured it out, is this: Don't read, quote or even think about the Bible. I know, I know, this sounds extreme, but remember this is Postmodern Christianity. Postmodernity is a belief system that says that no belief system is true. It's absolutely certain that nothing is absolutely certain. The Bible is full of absolute truth claims-that's why it's so exclusive and out-of-date. However, you will still need to make reference to it on occasion, so it's good to have some overly simplistic proof-texts handy. "Thou shall not judge" is the all-time most popular proof-text, so feel free to throw it around as often as you want. Just remember not to read the entire passage in the actual Bible, otherwise you'll see what Jesus really meant. You can even misquote it like this: "Who are we to judge?" or ""Only God can judge-that's not my job!"
      The Bible has clear rules about what is right and wrong, so you need to avoid all that. Remember, people generally hate God's rules, so you need to stay on their side; instead, make those Bible thumping "traditionalist" Christians seem like the real problem, i.e. they're bad because they think they're better than anyone else. You must ignore the fact that true Bible-believing Christians don't think they're better than anyone else-they are simply pointing to the unchangeable truth of God's Word as the only ultimate authority. Furthermore, the Gospel itself is only "Good News" because Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins... and we couldn't even have sins unless we were guilty of breaking God's commandments... and since God Himself gave us His commandments we are clearly guilty and in need of a Savior.... do you see how this all falls apart if you start reading the Bible? You'll just turn into a regular Christian-ugh! Instead of that, keep it simple and just say something like "I believe the way of Jesus is love" or "I believe God just wants everyone to be happy." Nobody's going to argue with that, right? For more ideas on how to misquote God's Word, just listen to any interview with Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones or any of the hip new emergent leaders. With a good dose of sincerity and direct eye contact (plus some emotional background music), you can say almost anything in the name of Jesus!

Finally, when in doubt, always prefer ambiguity over certainty and truth. Ambiguity is the magic glue that holds Postmodern Christianity together. What does this mean? I don't know, what do you think it means? Is it possible that the ambiguity of uncertainty is really just the context from within which our sense of community can emerge? I don't know, I'm just asking the question, because the beauty of relationship reveals itself through the self-discovery process, as we all find personal meaning together and individually. I'm not saying that anyone's version of truth is right or wrong; I'm just asking questions so that a dialogue can be established. Maybe there's a better way, a way where all of our collective imaginings can form a cohesive, yet multi-faceted story. Maybe this new story can lead us to a place where fear and hatred will be replaced by mystery, beauty and ongoing book sales. A place with well-attended conferences and substantial speaking fees, a place of extensive radio and T.V. interviews and, ultimately, a regular guest position with Oprah. We must dream. We must hope. We must never reach any conclusions.

See how easy this is?
Now get out there and confuse everyone! You can do it!! 


  1. Good points, Steven! All that exclusivity stuff should've bee one away with long ago, right? I mean, who wants to hear about sin, suffering, going through tribulation, etc...Let's just organize with some ISIS Muslims and sing "Kumbayah" together! Just kidding!
    The bundling of the tares and wheat will help sort the tare out of the church shortly.

  2. Excellent article! I teach high school English, so I totally appreciate the satire. Recently, I had a conversation with a young Christian about why supporting homosexual marriage was wrong. This person told me not to hate/be hateful no fewer than three times during our short conversation. All I said was that if someone is going to touch a hot stove, it is move loving to tell them to stop before they hurt themselves than to cheer them on for their bold choice in refusing to use a hot pad. No matter what I said, I was a hateful hater who judged hatefully.

  3. I understand the need to engage postmodern ideas -- and I would hardly call myself a postmodernist -- but at least they deserve a fair hearing. Dismissing an entire intellectual movement as nothing more than gobbledygook is no way of dealing with them, even if it is just satire. Postmodernism per se doesn't have to be the boogeyman we make it out to be; what do you do with someone like Luke Harrington of the Presbylutheran blog? He's not exactly Brian McLaren, you know.

    1. Hmmm, not true.
      Jesus dismissed the priests, teachers of the law & Pharisees - the 'whole' intellectual religious movement.

  4. Personally speaking, who's side are we on? And God knows the answer. You pun your way through the murky mire of satire, yet the picture is true and very real. Holiness is also very real. Hell is also very real. And we only get one chance, this life to get it right. If we love anyone, we don't want them in Hell, no matter how hard this is a concept of modern day Christianity, it is the truth. And how did we get from basic acceptance to hardness of heart? By way of the first generation's neglect, and the next one's ignorance. Interesting site.....

  5. Excellent article.

    In order to expose the mere worthless 'traditions of men', we use satire, other times we appeal to Scripture, other times we speak harshly as Jesus did, and other times (shock horror) we take the proverbial whip and scare the 'hell' of of people.

    The Truth of God is far far above our feelings and it must be proclaimed.