I was sitting in my Old Testament class yesterday. The topic of Post-modernism came up. There has been much conversation about it on campus. Our professor, Dr. Stone, was much more definitive about post-modernism than most professors on campus, which I enjoyed, but it did raise a peculiar question in my mind. Can you completely define Post-modernism and is it really an applicable to Christianity?
The ones who have studied post-modernism have seen that there can be multiple views of it and then many more reactions within it. Some completely deny any so called “meta-narrative”, some accept it even though they recognize that the meta-narrative describes a hyper-reality, and there are others who are only in the beginning phases of the philosophy and are only reacting to the mistakes of Modernism. It is all a hodgepodge of people in different areas of the philosophy. (Let’s not forget that there are those who say that Post-modernism is actually uber-Modernism, which is an entirely different view of things.)
I am going to give you an answer to one question, and then give you a different question. Post-modernism is about de-valuing and deconstructing meta-narrative on some level (deconstruction can be used either as simple critique or a view that all literature and worldview is merely a tool to bring one under that narrative). It can’t get past the fact that one has declared himself and his view as superior. All must be given a voice at the table (a good point) but only because no voice has any inherent value over another (which has potential to be a bad point).
And now I ask you, the reader, is post-modernism usable for Christianity (at least in the orthodox sense)? Before you answer, let me label a few points: 1) Christianity in the orthodox sense has a long history of interpretation and a reasoning behind that interpretation. Things like homosexuality, war, abortion, murder, rape, pornography, lust, greed, lying, disregard for plants and animals and even hateful language are opposed on certain grounds such as faith, hope, and love in light of creation, failure, redemption, and hope. 2) We believe that it is not our own declaration of authority, but the authority of one who is higher than us. The Church of the first five centuries was authoritative because they sought to listen to the Spirit, listen to the witness of Scripture, and to recognize Christ as the head of the Church. This is not like the later Church which was authoritarian, which was certain people actually saying things and using there own positions of authority to avoid confrontation on the matter (this applies to many leaders, from Catholic Popes, to Methodist Bishops, and even Baptist Deacons). 3) We believe our own way to be the standard way to God. I am careful on this point. I cannot say that this is applicable to only the orthodox side of things, because there are some I know who want to fully serve Christ by listening to the Spirit (I also must admit that the Christian faith was shared along with our Scriptures in the first five centuries of our faith, meaning that we must be more open in non-aggressive conversation with unbelievers and have dialogue among the parts of the Christian faith)
With all that said, Post-Modernism, in an extreme sense, might be a different animal apart from Christianity, but I do think that there are things to be gleaned from the different levels of Post-modern critique.
What do you think?
Grace and peace.