The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



A challenge & a promise: Proclaiming Christ crucified and risen

At a recent conference I posed this question: How does the church minister to postmodern people who are starving for something beyond the ordinary? One answer is that the church offers truth.

“Postmodernism” is a widely used catchphrase that covers a variety of ideas. It’s simplistic to say that all of our challenges in 21st-century North America are related to it, but it does point to some of our realities. Postmodernism was inevitable because in the age of Enlightenment we believed so blindly and firmly in a faulty notion of progress—that we could solve the world’s problems with enough scientific discovery and technological fixes. Instead the 20th century gave us disastrous world wars and depressions, ethnic cleansing and massive unemployment, the loss of any moral consensus or commitment to the common good, and now a “preemptive” war.

The failure of “progress” contributed to a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and the rejection of authoritative structures (the church).

How do postmodern notions influence the people in our pews or the people who are absent from them? People who accept postmodern theories claim there is basically no meaning in texts, paintings or music except what the individual reader, viewer or listener brings to them.

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