So what is postmodernism?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by ScottEmerson, Jul 12, 2003.

  1. ScottEmerson

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    I wanted to know your opinions on postmodernism. (Some may not know what it is and that's okay!)

    1. How would you define postmodernism?

    2. Would you say that we are living in a postmodern era?

    3. Is postmodernism evil, good, or neutral?

    4. Should our methods of evangelism change to meet the postmodern culture? How so or why not?
     
  2. Baptist Believer

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    It is the natural progression of philosophical thought that has rejected the spiritual and emotional barrenness of the modernist/rationalistic scientism that has dominated Western thought since the Enlightenment. It is a new emphasis on the spiritual and relational aspects of humanness and a willingness to explore alternatives to rationalistic/mechanical explanations for reality.

    Yes. We are at the beginning of the postmodern era. In my opinion, it began in earnest in the 1960s and is gaining momentum.

    Postmodernism itself is neutral – just like modernism, medievalism or any other philosophical age. But for the cause of Christ it is a very good thing. We have more people searching for spiritual answers now than we have had in hundreds of years. The Christian churches have a wonderful opportunity to present Christ to this generation and the generations following.

    Yes.

    We need to completely rethink our evangelism methods and ways of communication. While the gospel remains the same, we need to strip man-made additions from the gospel and repackage it in a way that makes more sense to the modern seeker.

    For instance, traditionally we’ve presented the gospel as propositional truths that one must accept and then take a leap of faith to trust Christ. (A prime example of this in extreme is the “Four Spiritual Laws” tract that was so popular. Another example is the overwhelming popularity of Paul’s epistles as the focus of New Testament preaching instead of the gospels – it has been much easier to speak to modernists with Paul’s propositional discourses than to present the story of Christ contained in a narrative style.) For today and the future, we probably need to rely more on preaching for the four gospels with supplements and backing support from the Old Testament and the epistles of the New Testament. Instead of propositional truth, postmoderns tend to understand truth in terms of stories and contexts.

    As for other methods, I’m currently in the midst of rethinking these things. I’m been discussing this very subject with my pastor and we are on the verge of making some fundamental changes to the way we do church.
     
  3. Rev. Joshua

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    1. Postmodernism is a poorly named epistemological system that is gradually coming to prominence in Western thought. It is characterized by the belief that not all truth can be rationally or logically defined, and that reality is sometimes best not described through the scientific method.

    2. More and more people are thinking in a postmodern way.

    3. Neutral. It is a way of thinking. Like modernism, it works adequately or no one would use it. Like modernism, it has its strengths and weaknesses.

    4. Most theological arguments are built on the tenets of modernism (see for instance the debates betweeen fundamentalists and liberals). These arguments seem inane to postmodern thinkers, and are irrelevant to communicating with them. Consequently, most of us need to completely reevaluate what we say and how we say it when dealing with postmodern thinkers.

    Joshua
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Spare the liberal mumbo-jumbo and touchy-feely sentiment. That, too, is a combination of post-modernism and new age.

    Without rational thought sequence, how on earth are we to present the "absolutes" of sin and righteousness and judgment?

    I see post-modernism as the greatest threat to real Christianity in my lifetime.
     
  5. DanielFive

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    I agree with Dr.Bob, postmodernism is evil, it is the denial of objective truth, especially biblical truth. Truth for the postmodernist is ever-changing and relative, it must always be based on a persons social and cultural background. Postmodernists see the Christians truth and the non-believers truth as equally valid.

    Should our methods of evangelism change to meet the postmodern culture? How so or why not?

    NO. We must continue to present the truth in a scriptural way. Not dress it up in worldly music etc. We should not change our methods in order to "reach" those who refuse to love the truth. We must continue to preach Christ crucified period.

    "... They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thess. 2:10).

    Scott,

    I'm so glad you've found another forum where you can peddle this rubbish.
     
  6. Major B

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    Postmodernism is best summed up by the common answer of young people when required to think or make a hard decision--"whatever...". At a seminar for advanced placement teachers last year, the professors kept saying, "We have to condition our students to understand that there is not one definitive answer for most questions." Believe me, every time he said that, I objected. On the wall in my classroom, there is, in poster sized font, a sign that has been up there ever since that seminar--

    "For every question in the universe, there is one best answer."

    Postmodernism does not work in math, physics, engineering,or chemistry. You would not want to drive a car designed according to postmodern thought, and you would not want to drive or walk across a bridge designed by a postmodern engineer. You wouldn't want to be treated by a postmodern oncologist. Postmodernism, like its parent existentialism, is doomed to fail because it ignores the obvious realities of the world around us: if there is precision to be found in any realm, it will be found in all. We do not know all the answers, but unless we are prepared to live a bifurcated life, half deranged, half rational, we must confess that the answers exist.

    Is postmodernism evil? It is worse than evil, it is just plain stupid. Another sign on my wall,

    "Life is hard, especially if you are stupid."

    Should we use it? We should contrast it; we should be the polar opposite of it. As the despair of the modern soul increases because of postmodern thought, a window of opportunity is opened.

    [ July 12, 2003, 10:16 PM: Message edited by: Major B ]
     
  7. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Agreed!!!!!!!!!

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  8. ScottEmerson

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    Welcome to the world. It's here, whether you like it or not. The problem is "What now?"

    Christianity has never been about rationality. In fact, it goes against rational thought. "I cannot see God, therefore he does not exist." Faith is required, and faith is anything BUT rational. Karl Barth speaks of this a lot in his books.

    And why do you say that?
     
  9. ScottEmerson

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    Postmodern Christians, however, understand what Truth is. In the modern era, people just saw Christianity as non-truth. That, in and of itself, is something. In the postmodern world, discourse is particular, limited, and insular, and it allows the individual to be more open to opposing thoughts. As Terry Muck has commented, "postmodernism makes meaningful dialogue possible."

    The message is not what is in question. Those who preach should preach the necessity of Christ.

    Would you agree with these seven ways of reaching out to a postmodern world?

    1. Our approach, method, and style should be culturally relevant.
    2. Relationships must be built with non-believers.
    3. Evangelism should be understood as process and event.
    4. Maintain a Biblically functioning community.
    5. Apolegetics must be used - but updated.
    6. Christianity should be portrayed as practical.
    7. A vision of the Church's mission must be recaptured.

    Here's a further question: What do we have to lose if we don't adapt our methods to the new way of the world?

    And this has to do with the method of evangelism...how?

    And you're still saying the same things and ripping the Scriptures from their context in this forum as well!
     
  10. ScottEmerson

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    That is not true postmodernism. That's laziness. Pure postmodernism wrestles with issues and questions.

    Are there any questions that have more than one definitive answer?

    Paper or plastic? What about questions of opinion? Questions of preference? Questions of exploration?

    Postmodernism is applied to science in the methodology. Many of the rules still apply. I would like very much to see buildings and bridges developed by postmodernists. I am reminded of Howard Roark, in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I believe that we can see him as a true postmodernist in his designs.

    Postmodernism doesn't ignore the realities at all. They attempt to redefine them using different understanding. Grass remains green to a postmodernist. An example of postmodern way of thought was once explained by Foucault. For most people, we see snow. We may have an adjective for it, such as wet snow, but to us, snow is snow. Eskimoes, on the other hand, are able to perceive many more nuances in snow, mostly because they have at least eight different words for snow, depending on its quality. The snow's reality does not change, but the perception of the snow changes.

    Well, the quote is insulting, for one. I would urge you to consider the effect on your students, personally. And can something be worse than evil?

    The soul goes more into despair because of postmodern thought? How so?
     
  11. ScottEmerson

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    Excellent, excellent answers!!! Have you read any of Leonard Sweet or Edwin McManus? What sources do you draw from in your understanding of postmodernism?
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    Have you read any of Leonard Sweet or Edwin McManus? What sources do you draw from in your understanding of postmodernism? </font>[/QUOTE]I've been struggling with these questions personally for the last 8-10 years on my own and recently was introduced to Brian McLaren's two books, "A New Kind of Christian" and "The Story We Find Ourselves In". I recently read both and found them very interesting. The most interesting thing is that there was very little in the book that I have not already worked through on my own, but the amazing thing is that I've never seen those thoughts in print before. Suddenly I realized that I'm working on the same problems that other brothers and sisters in Christ are working through and it greatly encouraged me. I believe God is preparing many of us to speak to the postmodern generation.

    As for McManus, I've seen his name referenced a number of places but I haven't looked him up yet. A few weeks ago I picked up Sweet's book, "Soul Salsa", but I haven't started it yet. I will probably begin that book sometime next week.
     
  13. Major B

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    First, and most important is this: I am not talking about intellectual post-modernism, nor about the theorizing of those who love to discuss questions and new things. The post-modernism I deal with is the kind we find where the rubber meets the road, in the classrooms of an inner-city high school (where I teach) and in my Biblical Counseling practice.

    I am talking about the postmodernism of Cobain, Eminem, and "50 Cent," (the newest vile rapper). The artsy intellectual crowd's version has no doubt influenced the post-modern thought I run into (which is much more insidious than mere laziness), but at the grass roots level it is much simpler, much more disturbing, and it is becoming ubiquitous.

    As for questions, I stand by my assertion. If I choose paper and that turns out to have been a bad choice for some reason, a better choice was there.

    Postmodern understandings of scientific facts may be nice for the dorm discussion, but please let my aeronautical engineer understand the realities of aerodynamics, lift, etc.

    As for insulting, subtlety is lost on those I teach. They understand stupid. What is worse than intentional evil? Evil that happens for no particular reason except the feeling of the moment, as in the multiple murderer at Arizona State Prison, who, when asked "Why did you kill everyone in the house?", said, "They was all home..."

    I was referring to "the line of despair" from Francis Schaeffer's writings. We are certainly further down the road now than when he wrote that phrase.
     
  14. DanielFive

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    Scripture?
     
  15. Joseph_Botwinick

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    It has nothing to do with scripture because it is born of the wisdom of men and of the spirit of anti-Christ.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  16. ColoradoFB

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    Here's a question with more than one answer:

    "What is the square root of 4?"

    Two answers:

    a. 2
    b. -2
     
  17. ScottEmerson

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  18. ScottEmerson

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    1. I Corinthians 9:22
    2. Paul at Mars Hill, Jesus to any number of people.
    3. Matthew 13 and the parable of the sower.
    4. John 13 and 17; the early church.
    5. There is no Scripture needed here, as Genesis through Revelation does not change. However, in the postmodern world, different questions (along with the methods and approaches to asking them) are asked, so different answers are needed.
    6. This shift in methodology is probably misunderstood, if not put int he context of evangelism that is firmly grounded in the proclamation of truth. The evangelistic move is demonstrating the practicality of Christianity to the various issues that non-Christians face. However, instead of saying thatt the Bible is truth because it works, we should maintain that it works because it is true.
    7. Luke 19:10 is the mission of our church - to seek and save that which was lost. Jesus said that our goal as a church should be going, and making disciples.
     
  19. ScottEmerson

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    Then speak against it.

    (And is everything you disagree with anti-Christ?)
     
  20. LandonL

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    1. How would you define postmodernism?
    Postmodernism is an epistemological "system" which arose really in the mid-19th century with the existentialists (i.e. Sartre and Kierkegaard), but did not become dominant until the mid 20th century.

    Postmodernism stresses the relativity of all meaning and truth. It denies the existence of what Descartes called a priori ideas--or innate ideas. These are truths that are not derived from observation or experiment; they are characterized as being certain, deductive, universally true, and independent of all experience (i.e, "I exist," or 2+2=4). It is from these a priori ideas that the very foundations of all mathematics are laid. Without them, we could not have mathematics, yet contemporary postmodernism denies they exist. This results in postmodernism's chief thought process--one which reaches all the way back to ancient Greece and the Sophists: Relativism. There is no absolute truth, only truth relevant to the individual.

    Descartes ushered in the modern era with his statement "I think, therefore I am." Others twisted his work to make reason God in that era. The postmodern era rejects even reason and its resulting responsibilities.

    Peter Van Inwagen says, "[Postmodernists] are deeply hostile to the thought of anything that in any sense stands in judgement over them. The idea toward which they are most hostile is, of course, the idea of there being a God. But they are almost as hostile to the idea of there being an objective universe that doesn't care what they think and could make their most cherished beliefs false without even consulting them."

    So, in my opinion, postmodern thought can be summed up by humans who want no responsibility. Not to God, not to science, not even to themselves. This is an escape from guilt over sin, since they say there is no sin. Also, to say all truth is relative means that 2+2=5, which only an idiot or a lunatic would positively assert. It is a self-defeating system which caters to the unenlightened: those too afraid of the truth to seek it.

    --------------------------------------------------

    2. Would you say that we are living in a postmodern era?

    Absolutely. Look all around you in today's world, and you will see hedonists. No offense to baby boomers, but that generation as a whole, growing up in blessing, really bought into postmodernism and mucked it up for the rest of us. Through thinking only of themselves, we have an elevated divorce rate, crime rate, abortions, etc. Unfortunately, it seems that the extreme Postmodernism brought on by the "hippies" is still growing, and it will only get worse.

    -------------------------------------------------

    3. Is postmodernism evil, good, or neutral?
    Hmm.. Postmodernism in and of itself, I think is evil. Though some good has come out of it, as God always works it out. Praise the Lord. People like Kierkegaard have encouraged the development of a personal faith, not just a go to church get dunked sing a hymn kind of thing. I would encouraged all to find the good in such a thing and praise God for it, and then flee from the rest of it.

    4. Should our methods of evangelism change to meet the postmodern culture? How so or why not?

    That depends on what you mean. If you're saying we should stop saying that God, sin, hell, judgement, redemption, and the cross are real, then I say no. Whatever one's worldview, humans are naturally inclined to accept reason. Relativism is a flight from conviction for sin. We must love them while showing them the light at the same time. When they see that we are no "better" than them and admit it, perhaps they will begin to take a closer look at the claims of Christ.

    My 2 cents,
    Landon
     

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