The Postmodern Christian

The American society of today is not built for the believer. In fact, the basic tenets of Christianity seem directly at odds with the wave of popular culture. As for popular culture itself, there seems to be a sense of apprehension and disillusionment towards Christianity. However, anyone who has been fairly educated on early United States’ History will know that it was not always like this. The Puritans, who were among the first Colonial settlers, were devoutly religious and formed their society around piety. Suddenly, we are in an era where the Christian is seen as the contrarian. How did we get to this point?

Jesus Christ undoubtedly lived a perfect life; however, the body of Christ does not. Throughout history, where Jesus and His Word stay the same, man’s perception of the Word is subject to change. Knowing this, we must admit there will always be divides, there will always be religious dark ages, and there will always be more great awakenings. The church, due to fallible human leadership, will always be in some sort of flux. One of the most important fluctuations in church history that contributed to this dark age was the combination of church and state. 

The Marriage Between Church and State

For the majority of Christian history, there has been a marriage between the church and state. This marriage is linked to many major travesties throughout history, such as the crusades. Now, when the church is mixed with national business and the nation does something immoral, then the church takes on a part of that blame. This issue is just as apparent when it comes to the European imperialism of the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the early 20th century, the world was woken up by the rise of different conflicts on the European continent. And by the end of the first and second world wars, Europe was left in shambles. Millions of soldiers and civilians had been killed, cities were completely destroyed, and entire political systems had fallen apart. 

If a person’s faith is synonymous with their national identity, then disillusionment towards the state means the same for his/her perception of God. Today, most who are apprehensive about the church are marred by its immoral actions in the past. However, gathering from this sentiment, it is clear that contemporary religious disillusionment, popular as a result of the second world war, is not a response to the horror of God, but rather to the horror of humanity.

Postmodernism, Unraveled

As a reaction to the “immoral church” and horror of the second world war, western culture started to drift towards more secular and postmodern ideals.

Postmodernism is defined as a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, relativism, and a suspicion of reason. Postmodernism is mainly centered around issues such as denial of objective morality, complete subscription to the words of scientists, the belief that society is always getting better as history progresses, and that humans can acquire knowledge to construct theories that explain aspects of the natural world. 

This set of philosophical viewpoints have gained a grip on western society and are interwoven in our culture. It seems as if today we are witnessing a great departure from Christian morality in our everyday lives. As believers in the postmodern world, how do we respond to this?

Operating as a Christian in a Secular Culture

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16

1 Peter was written during a time of unrest in the first century church. The Romans were secular pagans who worshipped sex, alcohol, and other forms of debauchery. They harassed, persecuted, and condemned the church for their doctrine going against the current of their popular culture. This is clearly a parallel to the contemporary relationship between the church and the society it inhabits. And what does Peter say to do about this?

He doesn’t say we should condemn the secularists for their unbelief. He doesn’t say we should wage an intellectual war on them. Instead, he says we should be there for them. Even when we are persecuted and harassed, we should act as gatekeepers for Christ and be prepared to give an answer whenever asked about our faith. And, on top of that, we should do it from a place of gentleness and respect. 

If you are lost in your sin, and you see someone condemning others who think differently than them, then that person pushes you further away from the church. That’s one of the reasons we have this problem in the modern age. However, if you see someone with an eternal purpose acting kind and talking about their heavenly inheritance, then you are naturally drawn towards them, and therefore drawn to Christ.

This is what Peter is getting at and this is how the Christian should conduct themselves when facing a secular culture who slanders Christ’s name.


I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

With a church being led by fallible humanity, we will always find trouble in this world. We will always experience rebellion from God, we will always find ourselves in instances of persecution, but we will always take heart. We take heart because we know that we are living for something beyond the chaotic world we inhabit. Where the church and humanity are inconsistent, Christ remains totally consistent. Knowing and embracing this truth, we should remain patient with those who wish to persecute us; for we have overcome the world.


What Is The Church?

“The church is a people, not a place.” This has become a prominent catchphrase for many American Christians. It is usually referenced when there is discussion over what church is, and then eventually leads to who the church is. Many argue the church is not the building God’s people gather in, but God’s people. While it is true the church is made up of people, it is also true the church is a gathering somewhere. What many have come to see as opposites are better described as two sides of the same coin.

Biblical Etymology of the Word “Church”

We first see the Hebrew word qahal in Deuteronomy 4:10, which translates to the assembly or gathering as a congregation. Transliterated into the Greek this word is ekklesia. We first see ekklesia in Matthew 16:18, which is translated to church. According to the Bible, the church is a gathering of God’s people.

In Ephesians 5:23, we see the Greek word ekklesias or church is used to refer to the “Bride of Christ.” According to the Bible, the church is God’s people.

These words and their meanings do not contradict each other. If they did, there would be no solid meaning for the church, which could lead to loose and false implications of God’s people and their gathering. Instead, the church is precisely as the Bible explains: both the people of God and their gathering.

The Church: God’s People

Those who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised them from the dead are called Christians (Rom 10:9). In the New Testament, Christians are also commonly referred to as “the church” (Matt 16:18, Acts 20:28, Eph 5:23-25, Col 1:18, 1:24, 1 Tim 3:5).

Paul, speaking to the Ephesian elders, says:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” – Acts 20:28

In this verse, God illuminates for us three beautiful truths:

  1. Jesus’ shed blood and resurrection enable sinners dead in their trespasses to be reconciled back to right relationship with God.
  2. God’s mercy in sanctification enables us to daily walk with Jesus.
  3. God’s love is demonstrated to us in that we may be called the church, the bride of Christ.

The Church: The Gathering of God’s People

A common thing to hear among Christians is the reference of a “local body” or “church.” This phraseology is not a made-up concept, but a biblical one. 

An obvious example that the church is a gathering of God’s people is the existence of the epistles. Paul wrote to local bodies of God’s people: churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica. These were churches that gathered on the Lord’s day to worship through the preaching of the Bible, communion, and fellowship. Just as churches gather today, so did the early churches.

All throughout the epistles, the church is mentioned as the gathering of God’s people. One specific instance we see of this is in the book of 1 Corinthians.

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” -‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:26‬ 

In this verse, God illuminates for us two beautiful truths:

  1. God’s redemption of His people is meant for them to glorify Him by gathering together, so that they may worship Him and seek His holiness. 
  2. The Holy Spirit that dwells in each of God’s people enables them the ability to worship God and build up other saints.

The Responsibility of the Individual Believer as a Member of the Local Church

Since the church is both a gathering and a people, there are a few responsibilities we have as the church both individually and communally.

Proclaim the Gospel

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus has given the church a command, known as the Great Commission, to proclaim the gospel to anyone and everyone. If we have truly been saved by God and brought from death to life, we will have a desire to obey Christ, which includes obeying the Great Commission.

Desire to Meet With The Local Church

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

We were not made to try to know God as isolated beings. God’s people are not only meant but commanded to meet together. The church is not optional for the Christian; it is an expectation. There ought to be a desire for the believer to meet weekly with their local church body to learn more of who God is, praise Him in worship, encourage others, and be equipped to reach unbelievers with the gospel.

Cherish the Church

“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” – Romans 12:9-13

We have been exhorted to love our brothers and sisters, and seek to edify each other as we worship and glorify God (Rom 12:4-5). As we seek to know God more, we will further desire to not only meet with the local body of believers, but to love both the local and universal church. 

Walk In Accountability

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

It would not only be foolish of us but sinful to neglect accountability from brothers and sisters in our church and hurtful to them. We are exhorted and commanded in James 5:16 to confess our sins to one another, and then to pray for each other, knowing that God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9). (For a deeper look into accountability, check out a previous article I’ve written over that topic).

A Quick Word On The Church Amid Coronavirus

Although we are the church, we must remember the church is also our physical gathering. I am not saying it is not good to meet online, for how else can we meet in the current dilemma and how good has it been to still hear God’s word preached? But, we ought to remember the beauty and fulfillment of the church when we physically meet with our local body of believers and not neglect meeting together again when we are able to. In the midst of this, I desire so earnestly to gather together again in person with my local church body and truly experience the church as we are meant to gather. For more on how to address the pandemic, check out this article.

Praise God For the Church

All praise be to God for the gift that is the church! God, in His mercy, displays His righteousness by calling those who are saved to be the church, which is the bride of Christ. God, in His mercy, displays His righteousness by enabling His people to gather so as to glorify Him, encourage each other, and be equipped to share the gospel with the world. Let us go out and proclaim the gospel, desiring to meet again with the local church, cherish the church, walk in accountability, and love the world as God has loved us.