By Jim Tune
“I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?” laments Frodo, after discovering the power of the mysterious inheritance that has come into his possession.
In response, Gandalf offers a sober appraisal: “Such questions cannot be answered. You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”
In challenging Queen Esther to act on behalf of the Jews, Mordecai offers similar counsel. He asks rhetorically, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
We are living in confusing times. Many culture watchers are convinced that our society is undergoing a transformation of broad proportions. Some say we are in the throes of a transition from a Christian to a post-Christian era.
In my opinion, we are entering a new normal—the emergence of a postmodern society. We may get tired of hearing about it, but it’s not a fad. Society is in the midst of a significant, long-term shift—and we’re not going back to the “good old days.”
The postmodern movement is notoriously hard to define. Much has to do with a philosophical shift regarding the nature of truth. Most agree the postmodern mind tends to see truth as being relative to the time, culture, or situation of the individual.
I would suggest the most pervasive impact has not been the denial of absolute truth, but a denial of our ability to come to terms with our certainty about the truth. In other words, objective truth might exist, but it is almost impossible to prove we have a corner on it. The result is a soft conviction that says: “This is what we believe, but who is to say we are right?”
I don’t see myself as being at war with the culture. Too many Christians have pronounced an undiscerning anathema on the postmodern condition. Some advocate a holy war against these cultural shifts, often doing so in the name of preserving the values of modernity or with the hope of returning to an era of Christendom with all of its attendant privileges.
The people I lead are generally younger than I am. So I try to let them help me navigate this murky social haze. They think differently than I do, much differently. Still, I’m encouraged by their love for Christ and others. They help me understand that the postmodern condition is no more of a problem to the church than the modern condition was.
I am impressed by our young leaders. Many have been able to appropriate the postmodern ethos in a manner that has advanced the gospel within a contemporary context. Now that’s demanding and thoughtful work! Seeking to be the church in a seemingly postmodern, post-Christian society will require as much strength and heart and wits as we can muster.
Could it be that our younger leaders have been uniquely chosen for such a time as this?