Ever have one of those moments in which you think something like, “Wow-so 2+2=4!” It is one of those moments of epiphany in which you wonder how you never saw that before. I had one of those reading an article in the latest Philosophia Christi by Brendan Sweetman entitled, “Lyotard, Postmodernism, and Religion.”
His fundamental point was quite straightforward and one that I am a little embarrassed at not putting together myself a long time ago. But I guess this is why we read things written by people much smarter than we! The question is whether there is a place for religion, specifically Christianity, within a Postmodern philosophical construct. Sweetman’s answer is, “no.” The reason, the argument of his paper, constituted my own private epiphany:
1.Postmodernism in its most fundamental and essential form is incredulity toward metanarratives.
2.Christianity is a metanarrative.
3.Therefore, there is no place for Christianity within a Postmodern philosophical construct.
I have to say I agree, and that I have always agreed. When evangelicals play with Postmodernism they are literally adopting philosophical tenants that are contradictory with their own Christianity. The two schools of thought cannot be assented to at the same time taking the central claims of each seriously and without equivocation.
There are two ways of getting around the above argument. First, deny the first premise. I think that fails in large part because it is the founding principle of postmodern thought and has influenced all its developments since Lyotard. Anything that now passes as postmodern-pragmatism, language-games, ethically significant cultures, deconstruction-all stem from the basic premise, “incredulity toward metanarrative.”
The second, and probably more popular route would be to deny the second premise. The best way to deny that Christianity is a metanarrative might be (as the article points out) to create a strong bifurcation between faith and reason, assert that Christianity is only a matter of faith, and that metanarratives are exclusively matters of reason. But this denial misconstrues the Biblical notion of faith, turns it into something it was never intended to be (ONLY “blind faith”), and fails to take seriously the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical claims of the Christian faith.
Christianity is clearly a metanarrative-a narrative for the ages.