The Emergent and Postmodern penchant for uncertainty and our cultural captivity misses a couple of very important points when it comes to human beings as knowers. It is certainly true that we all see the world through lenses, and that our cultures often provide lenses for us that we know not of. But that then does not make it true that we are unalterably bound by our cultures, that language is a kind of game we cannot escape, that we cannot find any kind of epistemic objectivity, or that our belief system as Christians is a muddle of Western and Greek cultures more than is it a genuine representation of Christ and the Apostles.
So can we genuinely know things with any kind of objectivity or are we insurmountably bound by our communities? A good place to begin thinking about this would be the distinction between psychological objectivity and what we might call rational objectivity. Psychological objectivity describes a knower who is outside of or above any particular bias about an issue. While psychological objectivity may be rare or seem to be an impossible mental state, it really does exist. You are totally objective about the present temperature in Singapore. So it exists in any person’s catalogue of knowledge, but it may be trivial in many instances. A second note about psychological objectivity is that it is a good thing in several ways. We adhere to beliefs like the value of family and the good of voting in a democratic society through our cultural lenses. But we are not wrong on either count, and it would be a vice, for instance, to constantly regard your family with an affectionate disconnection.
Psychological objectivity appears to be the only kind of objectivity Emergent authors and pomos are willing to admit. But there is another that makes all the difference. The second form, rational objectivity, is simply the state of having good reasons for believing something, or, having good epistemic access to a thing itself. It is crucial to note the relationship between psychological and rational objectivity:
Being psychologically committed to a belief does not exclude rational objectivity,
Rational objectivity is probably the more important of the two, and it is an entirely possible epistemic state.
If either one of those propositions were false (as some Emergent and all pomo authors claim), then we are in a pickle indeed. If bias made rational objectivity impossible, math teachers would not be a reliable source of mathematical instruction (they would be too biased). You can multiply the examples ad infinitum, leading to utter absurdity.
The best kind of example within a Christian context would be some apologetic matter such as the historical reliability of the Scriptures. I am psychologically committed to their historical reliability, but I have good reasons behind that belief. I do not believe the proposition, “the Christian Scriptures are reliable,” because I dreamt it or because a squirrel once spelled it out in nuts on my back porch. Those would obviously be bad reasons for believing anything, and if we are honest with ourselves, we know the difference between good and bad reasons.
Many Emergents believe they are doing us all a service by rejecting “Modern” or “Enlightenment” views of things and picking up on a much more Postmodern view of things. Exactly the opposite is true in too many cases to count.