This time last week I was at the iDisciple conference in Stafford. It’s a Willow Creek event and had speakers including Gordon MacDonald and James Emery White sharing on the topic of how to make disciples. I found James Emery White particularly stimulating – his stuff on the 5 marks of the modern mind was blistering – think Keller’s brain with Driscoll’s energy – a heady mix! Here are some highlights from his talk:
The 5 marks of the modern mind:
1. there’s a lot of truth to go round (or there are many ways up the mountain). We’ve become a marketplace consumer society and have applied that mindset to religion. Every option is equally valid. Yet if everything is true nothing is true – you make the concept meaningless. So either no one is right or someone is right but NOT everyone is right.
2. truthiness – truth is what you feel. Remember Will Ferrell’s meal time grace in Talledega Nights to the little baby Jesus – that’s just how he likes to think of Jesus. Moderns are the same – truth is what you instinctively feel to be true in your gut, and who’s to question that.
3. reality is determined by the majority mind. This is what Stephen Colbert has called “Wikiality” – if enough people agree about something then that is the nature of things. The majority rule. You’re entitled to your opinion as long as you don’t step out of the mainstream – then you’ll be silenced.
4. We’re a culture of ‘mistakers’. Karl Meninger argues that we’ve moved away from sin as evil – we downgraded it to crime, and now simply to ‘mistake’. We’ve moved away from personal sin to personal mistakes. And who can seriously blame you or hold you accountable for the occasional innocent mistake? The Oxford junior dictionary has now removed the word ‘sin’.
5. widespread moral relativism. Everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes. As long as you’re not harming anyone else you’re at liberty to act as you please. The logical progression of current equality law should mean that brother and sister should be allowed to marry or brother and brother if they genuinely love one another.
There was much more that JEW said and part of his solution was for us to immerse ourselves well in literature and culture. We need to read the classics, and to listen to our culture, that we may have a robust framework with which to engage our world.