Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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Premodernism - Modernism - Postmodernism

  • Jim Townsley
  • Feb 17, 2015
Western civilization can be divided into three historical periods: Premodernism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. Premodernism was characterized by very little, if any, secularization of society. People's views contained some belief in God or a god and contained a belief in the supernatural. The family was basically intact in a traditional sense and most people lived in a rural setting. From this period came the "Great Awakening" and several significant religious movements. The people of that time period recognized the importance of God in their lives and in public life. It is no surprise that during this time great churches and Sunday Schools were built and both experienced tremendous growth.
Beginning in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds a new philosophy developed which was called "modernism." This time period followed the renaissance and reformation periods and is associated with the period of enlightenment. This new attitude toward God and religion sprung primarily from Europe and its effect upon the church proved to be deadly. The ideals of modernism led to more belief in human reason and man's own ability. The supernatural was pushed aside and everything was explained by rational thought and modern science. Humanism, and its philosophy, was closely associated with naturalism and materialism. From the modernist philosophy sprung some of the most influential theories of the nineteenth and twentieth century including Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudian psychology. Modernism took root in the colleges, but eventual spread to the local mainline churches eventually bringing about their demise. Most mainline churches today have no spiritual life, they do not preach the truth of the gospel, and many have actually closed their doors. Dr. John R. Rice spoke often and printed many articles in the Sword of Lord warning of the dangers of this serious trend. Some people recognized this false teaching and left these dead churches forming the core of many Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches.
We are now in the midst of a new philosophy which sprung from Modernism which is called Postmodernism. In the 1980's a new theory developed that has tried to reconstruct truth with modern ideas, discounting the great narratives of history and making them fit into their mold of thought. Postmodern thinkers critique all theories but their own. No wonder men are trying to reinterpret the constitution of the United States! One might argue that this theory began in the Garden of Eden when Satan said, "Yea hath God said?" "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" -- Rom 1:19-20. New church planters are facing the philosophy of Postmodernism, which is humanistic in nature, on a  daily basis. Man relies entirely upon human reason that is sadly affected by his sinful nature. This means that we are living in a society much like the days of Noah when the flood came and swept civilization away. There is no fear of God in the hearts of men as they do that which is right in their own eyes.
Evangelizing this society requires hard work since few people are searching for God or even sense that they need God. Most people are looking for happiness and they are trying to find it by fulfilling their selfish desires. When a man of God understands the challenges of the day he is left with basically two choices. Either he can bow to the trend of the day and cater to the culture with their music and worldliness or he can stand true to the Word of God and rely upon God to build His church. Remaining faithful to God may mean slower growth, more criticism, and more adversity. However, it may also mean greater rewards in Heaven for faithfulness to the Lord and a lasting work for God. Postmodernism and its secular philosophy must be resisted, rebuked, and turned away. Building a church must always be done God's way regardless of the seeming outward results. The Postmodernist philosophy and churches that bow to its teaching will result in a lost generation of young people and the demise of churches that bow to it. Preachers must determine to oppose the philosophy of our day and follow the clear teaching of the Bible without compromise.