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Summary in 400 words or less:
With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the former Soviet Republics fragmenting from the former Soviet Union, and to some degree, science not being able to answer every question in life, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, people began to have a new name for some new philosophical points of view as “Post-Modernism.” If Modernism assumed some philosophy, whether Communism or Scientism, had all the answers, Post-Modernism was the reaction that these previous philosophical systems could not answer all the questions. In a way, Post-Modernism was also reacting against some of the established systems including established religions. Post-Modernism and Pluralism also have some factors in common, i.e. in asking the question: how can one religion be right for all time and all cultures?
Post-modernism does have some benefits to the Christian faith and many challenges. Post-modernism has realized that there is no truly third-party/outsider objective viewpoint and that we are all influenced by culture, subculture, upbringing, language, religion, nationality, etc. Post-modernism has also realized that narratives (as opposed to abstract ideals or abstract principles) are important — thus we as Christians can give our two-millennia narrative as valid. People love stories, especially real stories. Christians have a very important story to tell, one that gives meaning and purpose and touches our deepest needs. The story also has a lot to do with our identity. Moreover, through postmodernism, we should also recognize that all of us use interpretative lenses, which are often hard to discern for ourselves — and postmodernism has helped some apologists in helping recognize these interpretative lenses of others.
However, there are many challenges to the Christian faith. Tolerance (and often one-sided tolerance: tolerance of liberal or “progressive”, anti-establishment, disenfranchised, oppressed, minority views) is held has a higher virtue than fact-finding and truth-finding and holding on to the truth. Opposing worldviews or contradictory statements by differing religions or worldviews can be held as all acceptable, because “what’s true for one person may not be true for others” (e.g., the co-exist bumper sticker). There is a degree of subjectivity of truth, rather than objectivity. It is suggested perhaps by some post-moderns that truth is subjective as opposed to objective.
William Lane Craig points out that much of the world is not post-modern however; for instance, he would make the example that when taking medication, people don’t apply post-modern interpretations (e.g., “I know the doctor suggests 10mg, but I think I want 75mg.”) We still believe in hard sciences (physics, chemistry, etc.) and don’t arbitrarily alter the
Ironically, Pontius Pilate may have been the first post-modern: “What is truth?” (John 18:38)
Scripture for YouVersion:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
Carson, D. A. “The Gagging of God.” (Zondervan, 2002)
Erickson, Millard. “Postmodernizing the Faith: Evangelical Responses to the Challenges of Postmodernism.” (Baker Aacdemic, 1998)
Os Guinness, 1998: “The Christian Faith in a Post-Modern World”
Collaborators: Chris Lee
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