The Perils of Ignoring Postmodernism -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 005:2 (Summer 2001)
Article: The Perils of Ignoring Postmodernism
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

The Perils of Ignoring Postmodernism

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is a professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University and Bethel Theological Seminary. He is the author of a commentary on Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary Series, and most recently is the co-author of The Race Set before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. Currently, he is working on a theology of the apostle Paul. He is also serving as the preaching pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Those who preach God’s word may easily feel overwhelmed by the needs of the ministry. The demands of the ministry never lapse. The needs of people do not take a vacation. Week in and week out sermons need to be prepared and delivered, lessons taught, the hurting consoled, and the straying confronted. Moreover, various administrative matters demand constant attention. And then there are those who are upset over the direction of the church. Speaking with those who are troubled may consume an inordinate amount of time. In addition to all this, the pastor has his own family to shepherd, knowing that quality time can never cancel out the necessity of spending a sufficient amount of time with his wife and children. In view of such pressures, we can understand pastors who are tempted to disregard postmodernism.

They may justify their neglect of postmodernism for at least two reasons. First, busy pastors may reason that postmodernism is too complicated and sophisticated to warrant any study on their part. When even experts disagree on the nature of postmodernism, how can pastors, pressed constantly for time, gain any clarity on the matter? The second temptation may be even more appealing. Pastors might be prone to think that their responsibility consists only in preaching the gospel. The gospel, after all, is “power of God resulting in salvation” (Rom 1:16). One could reason, “Why waste time learning about postmodernism when it is the gospel alone that saves? Indeed, the gospel is so powerful that it punctures and defeats any anti-Christian worldview. Hence, if we preach the gospel we will conquer the nemesis of postmodernism.” It is often said that believers should not worry about studying false religions or philosophies. We will know what is counterfeit by restricting our study to what is genuine.

Both of these objections contain some truth. We must note immediately, however, the danger that lurks when we choose to neglect a deviant philosophy, especially when the philosophy is gaining ground in the culture. We may piously claim to be preaching the gospel, while in fact we are in the process of being co-opted ...

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