Walsh and Keesmaat, in their ever-provocative study of Colossians in light of postmodernity, Colossians Remixed, devote a chp to Colossians 3 under the thematic heading of “an ethic of secession.” Today we look at how postmoderns view ethical teachings in the New Testament.
W-K study this theme through the imagined lens of two people: Elanna and Eric. Elanna is a woman, she’s Gen X, a journalist, a late 20th Century person. Each of these locations shapes her fundamental problem when it comes to morals: “I find that I am fundamentally incapable of making final or lasting decisions about ethical issues of any weight” (147). She is “paralyzed by the realization that there is always another angle on things” (147). The cacophany silences her moral voice. That she’s a woman means she has learned — and W-K make it clear that not all women are this way — to make moral decisions in more communal ways instead of the competitive indivualistic male manner.
Her problem is anxious paralysis.
Eric, on the other hand, is a committed postmodern. Thus, “Any appeal to something beyond personal experience would amount to a metanarrative, and we all know where that leads” (150). He wrankles at W-K’s “lecture” that assumes a metanarrative that is true. Choice reigns supreme; life is devoid of final legitimations. He embraces chaos as the only reasonable stance.
His problem is a vacant space of ultimacy or an unpretentious nihilism.
W-K contend that everyone has a metanarrative, even the ones who deny metanarratives.
But, they ask, how do such folks look at Colossians 3:1-17?
Col. 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is youra life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Col. 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.b 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Col. 3:12 Therefore, as God?s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Col. 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.