If I were to have written the book of Colossians Remixed, I would have given the subtitle as “Speaking the Language of Postmodern People.” I initially thought this was going to be a type of commentary on the book of Colossians, but the authors expand the book to be much more. Yes, they cover what the gist of Colossians is about, but more importantly, they use the book as a backdrop to illustrate the tension between the absolute claims that are often made in biblical texts, and postmodern thought that tends to eschew absolutism in any form.
I assumed that his response to a postmodernistic culture would be to undermine the totalistic claims of Colossians and Christianity and present a postmodern version. He instead went in the opposite direction. Instead of lowering and neutralizing the claims as presented in Colossians, he challenges the reader to live out Christian values fully– “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and peace” (180) and challenges the reader to imagine what it might look like in different settings. So he asks the question: what would it look like for a Christian church or group to live out these countercultural values?
The authors say that presenting absolute claims of doctrine doesn’t much interest a postmodern person. What attracts them is living out these counter-cultural values. I was surprised by the all-encompassing nature of the ethic they presented. Such a Christian, they present, will pay attention to issues of ecology, global warming, where our food comes from, fixing injustices in society, and if necessary, getting involved politically to right some of these wrongs. To be honest, I’ve never thought about the relationship between a Christian ecology and where my food comes from. Sure, I’ve thought about global warming and its effects, but I’ve never thought of promoting public transit to protect our environment from pollution as being the responsibility of Christians. The authors simply follow the theological claims of Christianity down to the street level.
They don’t see living like this as a method to attract postmoderns, but as a way to be faithful to the values of Christianity. They do agree that such living is attractive to postmoderns, though.
I think Christians need to think more deeply about some of these issues.
[image by Valerie Everett]