Writing for the “Spiritually Interested”

I wasn’t going to link to it or even reference the source of these thoughts, but I want to copy a chart, and therefore have to give due credit.

Recently editor Mick Silva has been blogging about writing for seekers, those operating with a postmodern perspective. In one post entitled “Why Is The Shack Still Selling?” he asks

How do these “pioneers” differ from the more traditional Christian book market?

By “pioneers” I believe he means authors who are engaging the “spiritually interested” within the Christian framework (in another post, though, he includes authors such as Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, and Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, so I may be assuming too much).

Anyway, here is the chart I found interesting.

    Pioneers value / Traditionalists value
    Mystery over certainty/ Certainty over mystery
    Experiential faith/ Propositional truth
    Freedom from structure/ Structure to their freedom
    Personal authority/ Authority figures
    Love at the expense of truth/ Truth at the expense of love
    Authenticity over status/ Status over authenticity
    Relationship over rules/ Rules over relationship
    Maleable [malleable], interpretive/ Concrete, quantifiable
    A story over principles/ Principles over a story
    Seeking over knowing Knowing over seeking

In many ways, this list is nothing more than a description of a person influenced primarily by postmodernism versus a person influenced primarily by modernism, and to be honest, I don’t see the Christians I know on either side of the chart.

A few years ago, I asked my pastor, Dale Burke, what he thought of postmodernism, and his answer was insightful: it’s just a philosophical approach to life, no more right or wrong than other approaches. We can glean good things from any number of philosophies, but the key is to square what we believe with the Bible.

Well, that puts my pastor, my church, and me decidedly on the side of propositional truth, doesn’t it? Yes, and the first proposition is to love God with all of my being and the second, to love my brother as myself.

So does that mean we are part of the “Pioneers,” putting love over truth?

Yes, except another proposition we believe says we can know the truth and the truth will set you free. And that statement is supplemented by Jesus’s declaration that He is the way, the truth, and the life, that no one comes to the Father except via the Son. Which again shifts us back to the camp of the “Pioneers” because we value relationship over rules.

Sort of. Because Jesus also said, If you love me, you will obey my commandments. So now it seems we’re back on the “Traditionalists” side.

I could go on, but I want to make two salient points.

First, if someone values seeking over knowing, will they ever find? Jesus says, Seek and you will find, ask and it will be given you, knock and the door will be opened. Is someone genuinely—authentically, to use the term ascribed to the “Pioneers”—seeking if he has no intention of finding?

And secondly, the apostle Paul, when he preached in Athens started where the Athenians were—as idol worshipers who loved a good debate and to learn something new.

Granted, authors aren’t preachers, but we have the same mandate as the “professionals”: to go and make disciples. So if there are, as it seems, a host of spiritually interested who have broken free of the humanism and rationalism espoused by modern philosophy, shouldn’t we meet them where they are?

Even so, I think we need to keep Paul as our model. He was committed to preaching Christ, and Him crucified. What he excelled at was showing the Athenians that their “Unknown God” they worshiped was in fact known.

It seems to me, the challenge before Christians is to show seekers that what they’re looking for is the very thing we looked for too. And found.

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