I love the Four Spiritual Laws. They speak eternal truths simply, clearly and rationally. Twenty years ago I used Campus Crusade’s little booklet often to share Christ. But I don’t talk about the four spiritual laws with people I want to win to Christ today.
Laws presuppose the existence of foundational truths, and the post-modern mind does not accept the concept of absolute, foundational truth. Laws also must be enforced by some kind of authority, and post-modern minds reject, on principle, the legitimacy of any authority.
As Christians, we believe that truth exists, and it always will, no matter how the culture of any age or society perceives it. And as Christians we accept, gladly, that God, as author of all creation, has the right to speak authoritatively. We recognize that his truth is absolute. But, because our culture has been conditioned to reject a creator whose authority is unquestionable, truth just doesn’t matter to the post-modern thinker. When we speak absolute truths with conviction, post-moderns become uncomfortable. It’s an insult to their belief that human beings have a right to create their own truth.
We should not be discouraged by this reality. It doesn’t mean we’re left without opportunities to share Jesus. It just means we need to approach conversations about faith from a different angle. The old Gospel train, with Fact as the engine, Faith as the coal car, and Feeling as the caboose, is still faithfully chugging down the track. We just need to come from behind, jump on, and work our way up to the engine.
The good news is that our post-modern friends are already sitting on the caboose, and they’re happy to give us a hand up if we let them.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THE POST-MODERN THINKER?
Here are three of the hands post-modern thinkers are extending out to us.
1) Empiricism is a part of the philosophy of our day that gives us an opening to share our faith. Instead of, “There are rational and scientific reasons why I should not bang my head against the wall,” post-moderns think, “Banging my head against the wall hurts. Therefore it doesn’t work for me.” They are much more interested in experiential evidence, and they focus more on immediate feelings than future realities. When we share with them our feelings about Jesus, and how we sense His activity in our day-to-day lives, they can relate.
2) Relationships are extremely important to post-moderns as well. Though individualism is still the basis of post-modern thinking, especially in terms of choosing a belief system, community is also a post-modern cultural value, and we should be cheering about that. This perception of communal reality is much closer to the truth of the gospel than the idea that we have to stand on our own, and achieve on our own, and this openness to relationship is an open door to the gospel. The truism, “Christianity is about a relationship, not a religion,” will resonate sweetly and immediately with post-modern thinkers.
3) Narrative is where meaning rests with post-moderns. It’s all about the story. This, again, fits neatly into the way God has revealed Himself to us. In fact, we can only really understand truths about God by the way he has interacted with us in His-story. I love this window of opportunity. Stories, full of metaphorical meaning, are universally fun to tell and to hear. Post-moderns will stare at you glassy-eyed when you try to lead them through Paul’s reasoning in Romans 9, but their eyes will light up when you tell the story of the Death Angel passing over the Israelites in Egypt, or Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. You will get questions, for sure, but the questions will lead to more open doors.
SO HOW DO I SHARE WITH A POST-MODERN FRIEND?
How do I approach the train from behind? It’s simple. People are interested in how you feel about Jesus. They will listen to a story about how Jesus met you in your trials, and made things “work” for you.
Don’t tell them Jesus makes everything work happily. That’s not true and it’s not necessary. Just explain how you have found faith in Christ to be sustaining and satisfying in situations you could not handle on your own. Your feelings about Jesus, along with your story about how He has been there for you, will lead your friend to faith in Him without all the facts.
Twenty years ago I might loan my inquiring friend a book like More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell. It’s a great book that explains the Gospel clearly and rationally, and once people have come to faith in Jesus, they’ll love reading it. But today I offer pre-Christians my novel, Zinovy’s Journey, instead. It’s an intriguing story that illustrates how only a relationship with God will work to bring peace and purpose to a person’s life.
In every generation, the Devil works overtime to distort spiritual realities in people’s minds. But while he’s doing that, God persistently works to build a straight and narrow road through the confusion. All we have to do is find it.
The gospel works. It’s relational, drawing people of every age into the arms of Jesus. And it’s always going to be the greatest story ever told. Post-modern thinkers are open to the good news, if we tell it in the right way.