Terry Heaton posts on The roots of postmodernism, including a quick but astute summary contrast with the eras preceding this one.
Premodernism: I believe, therefore I understand.
Modernism: I think, therefore I understand.
Postmodernism: I experience, therefore I understand.
Meanwhile on the subject of terminology, Robbymac writes about his search for a better term than “post-charismatic” and cites Emerging Grace’s idea of using the term “charis-missional”. The comments on Grace’s post include many other suggestions… I might add “missiomatic” just for fun, but charismissional has a certain propriety to it even if it doesn’t have a ring. She defines the term as “spirit-led missional living” which does have a ring to it.
Methinks that the idea of postmodernism being tied to an experiential lifestyle is an accurate observation and stands as an interesting juxtaposition with postmodern charismatics leaving the charismatic movement. Huh? Wasn’t that all about experience? Didn’t we flock to charismata based in part on experience, and weren’t we criticised by mainline conservative evangelicals as being too emotional, too experential, not cerebral enough. (Okay, maybe they didn’t say “cerebral” but you know what I mean.) This one may take some further reflection, but it seems to me that the experience of the charismatic movement didn’t align with the experience of the charismata, leading to the post-charismatic class of believers who look fondly upon the notion of living a charismissional lifestyle. Maybe it sounds like “Power Evangelism” to some, but only when couched in the midst of the regular lifestyle thing. It seems to me that at one point some time after writing Power Evangelism, John Wimber noted that the problem with the whole concept was that it made an underlying assumption that people were engaging with the world at large already, and that void of that assumption being valid, there was not context in which power evangelism could actually take place. Now that would be considered missional living while listening to the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t it?
As fo the whole charismatic movement thing where experience of the Holy Spirit drew us to the movement, experience of the movement drew us away, and the Holy Spirit continues to draw us to Jesus… which is not incompatible with drawing us out of the movement, even out of the established church.
Maybe the cloud moved.
Charismatics will recognize that one… seems I’ve heard many a preacher and pastor say that they’d move when the cloud moved, they’d pack up and leave first if God’s presence lifted off, they wouldn’t stick around in the same place when God moved on. Hmmm. Wonder if some of them missed a memo… maybe I should start calling them up and reminding them what they said? Okay, now I’m just being snarky.
Well, one thing about post-charismatics… experience brought understanding to many of us. Very postmodern.
I consider myself a post-charismatic and have asked the same question about the disparity between postmodernisms draw to experience, while simultaneously seeing people withdraw from the charismatic. In part I think that postmodernism bent to the non-hierarchical community ran contrary to the often highly exclusive elitism of the charismatic movement.
In the end, I am slowly able to embrace a more charismissional, postmodern expression of faith and experience.
I too was shaped by the charismatic expression, tho being theOLDbill, that was early, first gen catholic charismatic types. seems to me that the problem of basing worship, in particular, on experience is that the Spirit is notoriously inconsistent. She flutters exuberently on one occasion, seems distracted or absent at others. That leaves us with a problem, how to provide consistent worship with an inconsistent Spirit [. . . the Wind blows wherever it wishes. . .]. Consciously or not we start to manufacture experience, and that leads us into emotionally manipulative tactics. And because somehow we need to articulate these breathing experience we start with descriptions which inevitably become proscriptions and soon we give her a name tag, and tell her where to sit. It follows shotly after the first Life in the Spirit seminars are created, I figure. So post-charismatic is, in some sense, normal, normative. We mirror in our inner selves what the macro experience of the church has been. We are church history. I knew I should have paid more attention to that course in seminary
Your taxonomy echoes an older one.
Anselm: I believe in order to understand.
Bernard of Clairvaux: I believe in order to experience (credo ut experiar)