Friday, September 21, 2007

The Road to Postmodernity

How did we get to this postmodern post Christian era? Take a look below.

The Classical view was humanistic/sacred whereas the Modern orientation was scientific/secular. “Modern science requires only one ontological level, the physical,”[1] beginning and ending with sensory perception. Science’s indices are space, time, matter or energy, which are convertible.[2] Being one planed, “…to speak of anything in science as having a different ontological status—as better, say, or more real—is to speak nonsense.”[3]

Modernism defined knowledge by what could be learned by study of physical objects. “…there is … only one kind of entity in the world ... physical objects; and … only one kind of knowledge … the kind that natural scientists have.”[4] Impressive achievements wrought by technology, demonstrated the truth they proposed.

Postmodernity reacts to Modernity in recognizing Enlightenment rationalism’s failure, “call[ing] into question the ideals, principles, and values that lay at the heart of the modern mind-set”[5] Postmodernism is a “pervasive repudiation of things modern.”[6] There is a distrust of metanarratives. Postmodernism reacts to reason and science’s supremacy that pervaded Modernism. It emphasizes story as opposed to propositional truth. “Emerging postmoderns see consumerism as another modern malignancy, not unlike reductionist rationalism, because of the havoc it inflicts upon the individual soul, upon cultures, and upon the planet as a whole.”[7]

We are challenged to present the gospel in a context understandable to postmoderns. Their openness to spiritual things is an opportunity. Metanarratives are rejected, but narratives are not. The emphasis on story provides an opening to share our stories, our testimonies of the transformational power of Christ. “Postmoderns see Christianity as a narrative around which they orient their lives.”[8]An incarnational lifestyle is the key means of reaching postmoderns.

To think that the person and work of Jesus Christ demands that we ourselves embody a politic in the form of the church with given social practices that engage society as an embodied presence, is completely alien to the evangelical mind.”[9] We must “shift from an apologetics of demonstration (reason) to one of proclamation (through ecclesial witness).”[10] Openness to criticisms leveled at the church by postmoderns is important; recognizing that today’s church was largely influenced by Modernism



[1] Smith, The Way Things Are, 6.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 7.

[5] H. S. Horton-Parker, “Some Key Terms for the Study of the Philososphy of Religion,” Version 2, 2005.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “The Three Postmoderns: A Short Explanation.’

[8] Bruce Ellis Benson, “What is Postmodernism,?” Online: http://www.anewkindofconversation.com/ [27 August 2007].

[9] David Fitch, “Postmodernity vs. the Gospel?,” The Church and Postmodern Culture, August-December 2006, n. p. Online: http://churchandpomo.typepad.com/ [29 August 2007].

[10] Ibid.

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