Apologizing To Postmoderns: Developing An Effective Apologetic For Contemporary Gospel Preaching -- By: W. Michael Miller

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 06:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Apologizing To Postmoderns: Developing An Effective Apologetic For Contemporary Gospel Preaching
Author: W. Michael Miller


Apologizing To Postmoderns: Developing An Effective Apologetic For Contemporary Gospel Preaching

W. Michael Miller

Dr. Michael Miller is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Kenner, LA and an adjunct teacher at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Introduction

First Peter 3:15 admonishes believers always to be “prepared to make a defense” of the Gospel that gives hope. With that in mind, much has been written to equip Christians to defend our faith–to the point that the field of apologetics has developed into an independent discipline. A number of volumes have also been published concerning the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers and skeptics. The question before us today, however, concerns the need to synthesize the two, and to do so in a way that will most effectively communicate and defend the Gospel to a contemporary audience. How are we as preachers faithfully to proclaim the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to the mediasaturated, pluralistic, skeptical culture in which we find ourselves immersed today?

In order effectively to communicate the Gospel to people in any given culture, it is necessary to understand the philosophical and sociological undercurrents influencing the thought patterns of that culture. And it is necessary to speak their language. While no one could argue that the Judeo-Christian tradition has not had major effects on the West, the reality also exists that significant changes have taken place over the last century that have affected the way people think and perceive the world. The questions arise, then, as to how society has come to the place in which it now finds itself, and how the church is to respond to the changes that have taken place. Has culture changed to the point that the manner in which the faith is defended also needs to change? And if so, what changes are necessary?

How Did We Get Here?

A time once existed in which most cultures were dominated by what is now referred to as “premodernism.” A premodern culture was marked by little or no diversity or social change. People shared the same values, traditions, and beliefs, and while some such societies still exist in remote regions of the world, those conditions are, especially in the West, rare.1

Today, pluralism, diversity, and constant change are the norm. Western society is now saturated in what is most commonly referred to as a “postmodern” culture, the diametrical

opposite of premodernism, but the shift in sociology and worldview was far from instantaneous (nor is it uniformly complete).

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