Some time ago a Welsh clergyperson said during a conference, "While we may be alarmed at the philosophical assumptions of post-moderninism, we don't regret the passing of philosophical modernism. That never did us any favours."
I was thinking about this this week in the context of two discussions.
The first is a controversy that is smouldering about the work of the Spirit in relation to the Scriptures.
The historic evangelical position has been that when the Bible is preached, even if the preacher has done his work impeccably, with reflection, exegesis, analysis, application, illustration, structure, prayer and all, still for that word to have a powerful effect in the lives of the hearers the Holy Spirit must apply what they hear to their mind, heart, conscience, will, etc.
It is said that this position is no longer held by the vast majority of British evangelicals, with the watchword being "The power is in the Word". What this means is that the preacher must do an excellent job of reflection, exegesis, etc... and if he does, then the preaching will hit home. If he doesn't, then, hey, try harder next time.
I am disturbed by the "the power is in the Word" position because it effectively puts all the power in the hands of the preacher, which, incidentally, is just where we want it in our culture of celebrity. The gospel trains us never to exalt people, least of all ourselves. Only Christ.
(Incidentally putting preacher's mugshots on posters, or advertising services "With Fred Bloggs". Where does that come from?)
The second was a book on meditation that I have to review that, in the first chapter or so, gave the impression that "if you do these things you'll grow as a Christian and if you don't then you won't"
Anyway, I wonder whether in both these areas our heritage of philosophical modernism is doing us no favours. Modernism sees the world in terms of systems, and it is fascinated with working out how the system works and how we can understand, manipulate and control it. It's main fruit is technology.
Its drawback is that philosophical modernism believes in a closed system, where what we can see, analyse, manipulate and control is all that exists. If you can't see it, it isn't there.
Hence the "do this, it works" and the "the power is in the Word" problem.
We need to be able to do it, to make it happen.
Just a thought.