Postmodernism and You

I was looking at some of the local churches in Fort Collins and one of them had a link to Xenos Christian Fellowship’s website. One of their pages is called Postmodernism and You. They begin by saying:

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.

First of all, calling people eggheads isn’t a constructive way to begin. If people are so clearly wrong, prove it, don’t resort to name calling.

Anyway, I’ll comment on their nine areas. As such, it would be helpful to read what they have to say first.

Education: Transmitting information is much less effective than facilitating the learning process. Lecturing is very western in concept. The Biblical model of discipleship is an experiencial facilitation process. People need to own their knowledge and experience, especially in a world where no idea goes unchallenged.

Health Care: Admittedly some forms of alternative medicine are flaky and unsubstantiated, but let’s not forget that Western medicine doesn’t have all the answers. Further, research is not done in a vacuum. Money and academic dishonesty influence the ‘truth.’ Plus, some forms of alternative medicine are older than Western medicine, such as Chinese techniques. Plus, the door has been opened to recognize more wholistic medicine, which recognizes the spiritual world rather than just the god of Reason. That includes recognizing Christian spirituality.

Science: The Englightenment and Industrial Revolution made a god out of human reason and science. The optimism of human reason has been dashed over the past century. Postmodernism is what happens when people grow disillusioned with the idolatry of human reason and science.

Psychotherapy: Their discussion of psychology is confusing. They compare so-called modern truth-based psychotherapy with postmodern truthless psychotherapy. Okay, I agree with the idea that not pointing people to an objective truth is a problem. I have a minor in psychology. Psychology is, and always has been, subjective. Behavioural research is helpful, but there are many factors involved in getting valid data, and thus, valid research. Psychology itself is largely based on human reasoning being the answer, not God. And some of the things they condemn postmodernism (such as loss of individualism and fascination with power) are equally part of modernism.

Religion: In this instance, a lot of what’s said makes sense. Truth is important in religion, but there’s more to religion than reason and truth…

History: Wow. History is usually written by the victor, from a certain point of view. How often is history actually objective? It’s easy for those of us in the majority to dismiss the experience of the minority. We might have our assumptions challenged, after all. The Bible itself is not meant to be objective history, but a story of the people of Israel and their God. HOWEVER, history itself and historical writings are often thrown out with postmodernism, and I fully agree that that is tragic and dangerous!

Literature: Okay. I agree that it’s ideal to understand the author’s intent. I also agree that it’s problematic to just concern ourselves with what it means to us apart from what they’re trying to communicate. I especially think that in terms of Biblical exegesis. I also think that understanding the cultural context helps us to understand their intent. Many modernists have applied a Western filter to the Bible, essentially teaching what it means to us rather than what the author was trying communicate.

Biblical Interpretation: Already stated above. Again, I’m confused, since churches influenced by postmodern ideas are often the ones questioning whether some of our Western interpretations are really what the author was trying to communicate. I hate to say it, but people do construct their own meaning, whether they should or not. It’s just now we have everyone forming their own meanings with it being sanctioned. Then again, should I just accept someone else says is true even if I logically don’t believe it? Now, there are dangers with postmodern ideology…but there are also dangers with modern ideology.

Law and Government: Well, they have a lot more faith in the reason and justness of our legal system before postmodernism. I don’t share that faith. I also don’t share the faith in human nature that it requires. Money and power have tainted our legal system for a long time. Just because someone in power enacts a law and it is then rational for a jury to enforce it, that doesn’t make it just.

In conclusion, I agree with some things said on their website, but the elevation of modernism with the total dismissal of postmodernism is too clear cut. It doesn’t sound like a defense of Christianity, but, rather, a defense of Enlightenment ideology as it has developed in the United States. Also, some of the arguments use straw man logical fallacies and other aberrations of logic (like the one with literature). Lastly, what I dislike about modernism and what I like about postmodernism is based on what I perceive as true. That’s the problem with seeking truth…it sometimes leads you past what other people tell you is true.