Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Postmodern Aftertaste

One of the unintended consequences of fully embracing a postmodern world view is sloppy thinking. I pay pretty close attention to a few postmodern thinkers and some in the church who advocate embracing that world view, and I have come to the conclusion that the relativism that is inherent in postmodernism has lead to a whole gaggle of people who can’t, and don’t care that they can’t, think.

I think it is a natural result of the beginning principles, the major of which is that there is no metanarrative, and if there is, there is no way we can know it. That view is either epistemological relativism or relativism pure and simple. But irregardless of the philosophical position, the person on the street embraces that principle as raw relativism. They then apply that to their ethical standards and their views of religion. The basic view, “that is ok for you, this is ok for me, and that is as far as it goes,” belies a severe apathy concerning truth and moral rectitude. It is laziness disguised as tolerance. And where there is apathy concerning truth and morality, there follows close behind it the inability to think seriously about those things.

I know there are many authors in the Christian church who advocate embracing a postmodern view of things and consider themselves profound thinkers. But what is profound about deliberate ignorance? That kind of intellectual maneuver is as old, and as full of holes, as the Sophists. It is more profound to strive to apply the faculties God gave you to truth and morality. That is the kind of thing that changes people’s lives. Postmodernism not only leaves them exactly where they are, but it tells them to be comfortable there.

But, it is said, “postmodernism is the spirit of the age and Modernism has failed miserably. Therefore, the Church must change or die.” The issue of how much the church should appropriate culture is a large one, but I wonder if the Church should be neither Modernist nor Postmodern. There has to be a third way; a way in which the Church can embrace the truths embodied in the best of philosophy and the best in the communitarian spirit expressed by postmodernism.

In my opinion, the challenge before the Church today is how to pull people out of the mental and spiritual malaise they are in and set them toward the light. Our culture is continually settling toward the lowest common denominators, and humans love it there. John 3:19 states, “men loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil.” The context is illuminating-people rejected Christ because they would rather stay in the dark. May the Church turn on The Light instead of dimming the faders.

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