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The biggest threat to the next generation

Updated: May 30


"What do you think the biggest threat is to the next generation of young people who profess Christ?” My friend asked me this, aware of my involvement in college, teen, and young professional ministries over the last 11 years. I responded by saying, “Post-modernism.” In addition to recognizing the influence of sin and Satan in our world - the chief enemies of the human race - it's crucial to acknowledge the philosophical challenges posed by post-modern ideology in today's Christian landscape. 


post-modernism? Really?

Post-modernism is a pernicious philosophical demon. I'll explain why, but sometimes I worry about oversimplifying things, recognizing that many issues are complex and nuanced. Delving into the intricacies of post-modern thought would require volumes of writing—there's a wealth of literature on the topic already available. Thus, while I aim to avoid oversimplification, I must stress the profound impact of post-modernity and its deleterious consequences, all without succumbing to a black-and-white perspective.


The Apostle Paul warned the Christians in Colossae not to be taken captive by such philosophies (Colossians 2). Without knowing it, some of us have innocently fallen prey to such thought or have indirectly been grazed by its constant cultural attacks. If you’ve recently heard or said: 'Don’t judge me for this but…' or 'love is love…' or 'that’s my truth but your truth is also valid…' or '…everything is a social construct' or 'we see everything as fluid…' then you have encountered post-modern thought. Culturally speaking, it is the air we breathe as we interact with people, scroll online, watch our shows and share our faith. What is post-modernism?


Post-modernity, although multi-faceted in approach, is a pendulum swing reaction from modernism’s (15th-20th century focus on truth, science & freedoms) failure to bring about the promised “pursuit of happiness" (1). Due to the many wars of the 20th century, post-modernity posits that modernism's traditional views of science, truth, identity, and knowledge have all failed. Therefore, its goal is to doubt and deconstruct anything and everything so as to usher in a relative thought-life based on the individual. Basically, Post-modernism means that everything is based on what you feel and on your opinions. No truth. No structure. No purpose.


But is post-modernism actually a threat to the Christian worldview, especially the next generation? 


In 2019, Pew Research released a sobering update on America's religious landscape, encapsulated by the stark headline: 'In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace.' Their findings revealed a sharp downturn in Christian faith and participation in church activities. What's even more disheartening is the noticeable decrease in the number of young people identifying with Christianity (2). Sadly, the number of professing Christians declines the younger the generation. It's worth noting that this research data predates 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the events of 2020 exacerbated the situation, creating a perfect storm characterized by a profound lack of communal connection an reinforcing Christian foundations. Since then we have seen swaths of Christians deconstructing their faith or seeking a religious syncretism. This doctrine is basically the death of truth; and if you kill truth, you will eventually kill Jesus. Sadly, when I hear someone has left the faith after “deconstructing,” I painfully think, “Post-modernism got 'em. They got directly hit. Many don’t even know it. It’s pernicious.”  


At first glance, post-modernism might seem appealing, offering individuals the freedom to reshape everything according to their desires, echoing the narrative of Genesis 3. However, this false sense of freedom leads only to disillusionment and despair, mirroring a cycle of hope followed by nihilism. The unsettling reality of individuals asserting 'their truth' based on personal desires is widespread in everyday conversations.


recognizing the daily post-modern worldview

Here are two recent examples of post-modern ideology as an everyday thought:


The former US ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald Trump’s administration and former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, said that her position on abortion was based on “my truth”(3). She said this to Iowa faith leaders during a FAMILY Leaders Thanksgiving Forum in November of 2023. 


The second example is in 2022, where the now Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by President Joe Biden, was asked during her confirmation hearing to be on the highest court of the US, “Can you provide a definition for the word woman?” Nowadays, this is a vital question for someone that is supposed to judge the most important cases, including women’s rights issues. Brown responded by saying, “No. I can’t. Not in this context, I am not a biologist”(4).


Two important and highly accomplished individuals on opposite ends of the political discourse both espousing post-modern thought in public discourse, as Ambassador Haley distorts the word truth and Justice Brown is unable to define the word woman. 


I can understand a rebuttal - that they are merely political figures seeking to be politically correct - yet imagine the Christian in a college sociology class getting hit with the post-modern shots from every other professor. Well, that was me! That was my major. I had to read all of the major post-modern figures from Foucault to Derrida. It is actually a doctrine. There is an origin to it. There was and is an intentional intellectual push away from modernity towards post-modernity. Wow! If you mix that with the fear of being “cancelled,” then we can see how this teaching has spread like a wildfire into many corners of the West. I sat in an Anthropology of Sex and Gender course where the professor sought to deconstruct sex and gender as a foundational exercise in our first class. Funny enough, this was right after introducing the syllabus. I thought, “Well that was quick!”


Young Christians are confronted with post-modernism on a daily basis, often without even realizing it. Instead of actively confronting perspectives that contradict the knowledge of God, they may inadvertently find themselves swayed by these pervasive cultural narratives. Many are not and do not know how “demolishing arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


Rather the prevailing sentiment among many is a resigned acceptance out of misguided compassion for these ideologies as they slowly creep into their view of God, relationships & the church. This is alarming and discouraging yet worldviews contrary to the teachings of Jesus are nothing new. As disciples of Jesus our steadfast commitment remains in guiding individuals back to the path of truth, true compassion, and peace found in Christ. But how?


we must teach jesus & the bible over and against the post-modern worldview

The apostle John addresses much of what post-modern critiques indirectly throw against Christianity. Jesus said that He is the truth (John 14:6). His word is the truth that sets free (John 8:31-32). Your opinions and feelings are important yet they can be wrong (John 4:22). There is a way to have compassion while holding to truth (John 8:1-11). There is a judge. “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). We can judge and make the correct judgment (John 7:24). to combat post-modernism, we must teach Jesus afresh because He is a real person, well respected and authentic. 


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, teaches us that our thoughts determine our feelings, which then determine our actions. This means that our philosophy influences our feelings and actions. What post-modernism does is overemphasizes our feelings and de-emphasizes thought and action. No wonder the apostle Paul emphasized the imperative in Romans 12:1-2 of the importance of not conforming but renewing our minds.


As a minister, I've witnessed how the redefinition of everything and the process of post-modern deconstruction can shipwreck not only people’s faith but also their lives. When individuals lack a solid foundation, they are prone to fall. While post-modernity may have its merits in art and as a tool of questioning, it offers little usefulness in language or life. If we fail to address the root cause, which is post-modernity, its ideas will inevitably flourish. The error may come for Christians, if we just attempt to teach people to flee, but not couple it with something to pursue that will fulfill their lives. What I mean is that we must understand post-modernity and flee from its ways but then also pursue Jesus, who inclusively invites all to rest for their souls in the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). 


We must also re-teach the power of Biblical wisdom. So, in 2023, our church held Midweek classes titled “Eat The Word,” where we dedicated three weeks to discussing the cultural enemies against Scriptures and three weeks to understanding how to read and live by the Bible. For many of our members, the post-modern and deconstruction classes proved to be eye-opening, albeit unsettling and empowering. One member exclaimed, “Wow! Now I understand my child.” Another remarked, “This (post-modern) thing is everywhere.” Our church found strength in these classes as members gained experiential understanding and were equipped to confront post-modernity with love, grace, and truth.


After these lessons, our college students and young professionals are now more aware of the detrimental effects of post-modernity. For the older generation, we taught that merely quoting Scriptures on truth will not suffice. They must also make emotional connections with the next generation, speaking to them with gentleness and respect. While post-modernity may evolve or fade into another ideology, we find assurance in the constancy of Jesus and His Word, which brings freedom and life to the full.


Leke Lewu


References:

(1) Youtube: Stephen Hicks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BGbHG63x8w




(4)Youtube: Ketanji Jackson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWtGzJxiONU


Leke Lewu is a church leader, preacher & training minister at One Miami Church. He & his wife, Marielos, have two handsome boys who love food, basketball & their parents!  Leke is a Japanese-born Nigerian who resides in Miami, FL. His father worked as a diplomat moving the family from the UK to Japan to Brazil then to the United States in 1996. Maintaining two bachelor's degrees in Portuguese and Sociology, Leke aspires to pursue a doctorate in Sociology & Religion. He loves Chipotle bowls, chess, & plays in two men's basketball leagues to stay in shape.




1 Comment


Guest
Mar 29

Young people notice the failure of modernism and are seeking for languages and guidance to make sense of the hurt, and the future that remains murky. The scripture is equally critical of the false gospel of modernism as it is to post-modernism. Biblical teachers these days must realize they are mostly the product of modernism, and being a product of their own time their so-called “Biblical truth” is actually modernism-informed biblical hermeneutics. And unless the biblical teachers have done their own hard work in self-criticism and growth, they have made themselves the bastion of modernism sprinkled with biblical glitters — rather than teachers of of biblically-native teachings — with the modernist’s insistence on “certainty” and “truth” imported into the hermeneutics…

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