Is Postmodernism Evil?

Often I hear evangelical Christians talking about post-modernism as if it were wholly evil. Now I am not happy with this kind of thinking. For one it appears to make the corollary true, namely that modernism is all good! It is my conviction that modernism is neither wholly good nor wholly evil. And this is true of post-modernism too. By way of explanation here are some problems with modernism and some positives with post-modernism…

Modernism:

1. It creates a false and ungodly optimism, that does not seem to have room for the mystery of God but rather exalts the ability of man to find the answers. As a result deep spiritual realities can become packaged as “The 5 Spiritual Laws.”

2. The man-centred search for THE answers has created an unhealthy obsession with truth at the exclusion of community. Because cerebral correctness is so important, we can be justified in dividing over minor issues of doctrine. Because rational agreement is what really counts…

3. In the same vein because a rational assent to the truth of any particular creed is what makes you a Christian, it opens the way for a shallow orthodox agreement to any particular doctrine. But it does not call us to a radical following of the Lordship of Christ.

4 Because we are so confident in our methods (objectivity has been deified in modern method) we have no space for those who do things differently. There is THE way, or THE structure rather than many ways in which we could be presenting and living the truth of the gospel.

Post-modernism:

1. Has room for mystery – no quick fix answers, no 7 steps. No “this is what the passage means and there is no room for other ideas – except heresy of course”. We experience in post-modernism a call back to prayer, meditation, wonder at the marvels of God in creation, and a faith that has room for doubt, confusion and lack of concrete answers.

2. Has room for diversity. Because we admit that we do not have the definitive answers on all issues and are not afraid of mystery, we are able to admit that perhaps the charismatic movement does have some things right, the conservatives hymns are brilliant theology, the house churches do have better community and that mega-churches are great places for corporate worship and gifted Bible teachers. None are the answer and none completely off-course. We can celebrate the success of the other and learn from them too.

3. Has brought a realisation that all knowledge has a subjective element. As CS Lewis has said “What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience.” (Miracles p11). As Christians we cannot be hard post-modernists, who abandon any possibility for absolute truth. But there is room for a “soft-postmodernism” that acknowledges the subjective element of all knowing and therefore calls us to humility, prayer and community, as we together study the Scriptures, helping each other to avoid our “blindspots”

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~ by John on May 1, 2008.

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