Why This Section ? .. Simply Because surveys confirm that while the majority of people may be unable to define postmodernity, they are increasingly becoming products of it. In other words, we not only live in a postmodern era (we can’t help that) but most of us have become postmodernist – even many who claim to be Christians.
"Tolerance of other views is one of the pillars of postmodernism. However, there is one group of people to whom this “tolerance” is not extended... those who believe truth to be important!"
From a broad overview of history and a look at the three philosophical and religious eras that have dominated Western civilization to postmodernity’s encroachment on Western society/the church, and the dangers and impact of this worldview. And the question of What we can do now? The answer to which is we must be willing to go against the grain of a condoning society and display some holy intolerance. (A long article but well worth the read).
Postmodernism and You
Postmodernism may have originated in the province of academics and eggheads, but you will encounter it in your daily life, no matter who you are. Pick one of these nine areas to learn how you will see postmodernism affecting you and your children.
The Postmodern Challenge
"Openness" (without the restraint of reason) and "tolerance" that rejects all moral absolutes are the mandates of postmodern ideology. This thinking has dominated America’s "politically correct" universities for over a decade. Moreover, postmodernism is gaining a clear and growing consensus in popular culture.
How Can We Believe In God In A Postmodern World?
Postmodernism has its roots in a crisis of knowledge. The argument goes like this: There is no universal knower, no God in the equation. I am the centre of everything, but therefore I have to decide the grounds on which my knowledge is to be verified. How do I decide what is true or false? To do so I need further knowledge, which also need to be verified, and so ad infinitum. Put simply, postmodernism claims that knowledge has collapsed under its own weight. It is no longer possible to talk about facts or truth, because even if they do exist, we can’t know them, which renders God unknowable.
Apologetics in a Postmodern Age
For many, there is no such thing as absolute truth. Rather, there are competing truths. The Christian Gospel is simply one truth among many "truths." How do we present the Gospel in this age of relativism? Has the time come to reconsider the role of apologetics in Christian theology.
Where Did "I" Go? The Loss of Self in Postmodern Times
Who are you, anyway? Do you have an identity? What constitutes your identity? Who your parents are? Where you were born? What you do for a living? According to the mindset overtaking the Western world called postmodernism, you aren’t really a self at all. You have no unique identity that is identifiable from birth to death; there’s no real "you" which remains constant throughout all of life’s changes.
Also See Sections Pluralism and Relativism
All Paths..One Destination?
When examining the claims of religious traditions we must be careful not to confuse tolerance and truthfulness. Claiming that it is intolerant to say that "all paths do not lead to the same destination" misses the point. The important issue is the truth or falsity of this assertion. (Includes ‘Is The God of the Bible really God?’)
Objective relativism is the view that the beliefs of a person or group of persons are “true” for them, but not necessarily for others. Religious relativism maintains that one religion can be true for one person or culture but not for another. No religion, therefore, is universally or exclusively true. Religious beliefs are simply an accident of birth: Moral relativism maintains that there are no moral absolutes, no objective ethical right and wrong. Moral values are true or “genuine” for some, but not for others. Cultural relativism says that what is immoral in our culture is not necessarily immoral in another culture. No one, therefore, can judge another culture’s moral values.
Postmodern is a term that originated in art (specifically architecture) and literature. It refers to "the overall character and direction of experimental tendencies in Western arts, architecture, etc., since the 1940s or 1950s. (The Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), p. 671.
The label is so adhesive that it can be used to pick up assorted pieces of lint in our culture-intellectual velcro
Postmodernism is the cultural worldview that now penetrates and owns our society. This worldview deeply values the following: spirituality, pluralism, the experiential, relativity, altruism, community, creativity, the arts, environmentalism, globality, holism, and authenticity.
Postmodernist Viewpoint: There is no single world view that captures reality, no master story (or meta-narrative) that underlies humanity. Reason is to be distrusted because there is no way to know which person's reason is reliable. There is no such thing as objectivity. There is no "truth" to appeal to for understanding history and culture. There are no moral absolutes. The West, with its colonialist heritage, deserves ridicule. Texts, whether religious or philosophical or literary, do not have intrinsic meaning. Ideas are cultural creations. Everything is relative. We need to be deeply suspicious of all ideas given the way that ideas are used as tools to oppress and confine humans.(James Beverley. John Mark Ministries )
Relativism: Where modernism was a manifesto of human self-confidence and self-congratulation, postmodernism is a confession of modesty, if not despair. There is no truth, only truths. There are no principles, only preferences. There is no grand reason, only reasons. There is no privileged civilization, only a multiple of cultures, beliefs, periods, and styles. There is no grand narrative of human progress, only countless stories of where people and their cultures are now. There is no simple reality or any grand objectivity of universal, detached knowledge, only a ceaseless representation of everything in terms of everything else. In sum, postmodernism...is an extreme form of relativism. (Fit Bodies, Fat Minds)
The term "postmodernism" is a new buzzword of our uncertain age. Concerning the Bible, modernism (basically, humanism) concludes that it is not a work of God, but of men trying to promote their particular religion. According to modernism, there is no such thing as heaven or hell, no miracles ever happened, and Jesus is not really what the Bible purports Him to be. This mindset has existed for many years now, but it appears that an even more aggressive worldview is taking over, called postmodernism. This worldview incorporates the modernistic tendencies, but takes things even further.
Postmodernism is a bit difficult to define. There is no particular standard that defines the philosophy. However, there are certain characteristics with which one should be acquainted. In fact, virtually all of us have already faced these attitudes in the world, whether we knew what to call it or not. They run rampant in politics (i.e., "political correctness"), and are making strong headway in religious circles. The two key words of postmodern philosophy are relativity and tolerance.
According to the postmodern worldview, there are no such things as absolutes. Truth is relative; everything is situational and subjective. It rejects authority in virtually all forms and is characterized by pluralism. All ideas, all actions, no matter how different from "ours," must be accepted. Tolerance for all is paramount. [See Section on Relativism]
This is the worldview that is becoming so prevalent; indeed, it already is. For a Christian to be effective in the world, he or she must know this. One should be able to see how such a worldview is antagonistic toward those who believe in the inspiration of the Bible. One who believes the Bible believes that truth is absolute, not relative (cf. John 17:17). He believes that tolerance does not include tolerating the sinful and perverse. He believes in an absolute standard by which all people will one day be judged, and to which all are accountable (John 12:48; Acts 17:30-31). He believes that the only way to salvation and heaven is Jesus (John 14:6). [See Salvation] Therefore, the proverb is quite appropriate: "Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them" (28:4).
To the postmodernist, one who thinks he is right is to be regarded as dangerous. Only the enlightened of the age can think that everyone is right, since truth is so relative and subjective. There is no right or wrong; truth is up to each person. Of course, everyone is right except the one who believes the Bible is right. The view is contradictory to the core! To say that we must tolerate everyone, then refuse to tolerate those who don’t kowtow to the movement, is sheer hypocrisy. Further, to argue that there are no absolutes is a self-contradictory position. If the argument is true, then the statement ("there are no absolutes") is false. If it is not true, then the position is false. It simply cannot work. Those who argue for relativity of all things are not relative when it comes to their foundational concepts.
What is even more alarming is how the philosophy is creeping in among the people of God, especially in the realm of biblical interpretation. Though people still claim belief in the Bible, there is more and more a tendency to interpret Bible passages in a very subjective way. We become less concerned with what the passage is intended to convey as it was written by the author, and more concerned with "what it means to me." This process results in the relativity of truth. Though we certainly want to know how the passages apply to us today, the meaning of those passages are fixed in their time. So if we want to know what a passage means, we must look at in its historical context. Only then can we properly make applications to our situation today. If we do not first understand the meaning, then how can we arrive at a proper application? [See Section Reading and Understanding Your Bible]
In the postmodern view, however, authority resides, not in the text, but within the reader himself. Some interpreters then go so far as to argue that inspiration does not refer to the process of how God communicated His will, but rather to one’s own clever way of interpreting a text. Though brethren still defend the "God-inspired" nature of the Bible, the tendency to interpret the text subjectively is there. We must be extremely careful.
To combat postmodernism, we must continue to affirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible itself (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The religious world is moving away from this all too much as it is; Christians must be on their guard and fight that good fight of faith. We must train up our children in the inspired word of God. If we fail in this, the next generation may take things even further. Modernism is giving way to the more encompassing Postmodernism. What will be next? When the Lord comes, will He find faith upon this earth?