I’ve been asked to explain why Postmodernism is not in conflict with Christianity – I am more than happy to oblige.
I must start by addressing the issue of postmodernism as a worldview. In my previous posts about this, I have been discussing the philosophical approach known as postmodernism in which we examine our world by questioning absolutes. However, some have developed an entire worldview that denies absolutes – they are taking the postmodern philosophy out of its intended context and using it almost like a religion. (Phrases like, “I don’t believe in God/Buddha/Heaven because I am a postmodernist” should not make sense.) This abuse of philosophy goes by the name “postmodernism” and obviously stands in opposition to Christianity; so, when I said that the two could be reconciled I was not talking about this type of postmodernism.
(If you find that last paragraph confusing then take heart – you are on the right track. It is very frustrating that there are TWO things called postmodernism that are not exactly the same; things like this make my life difficult. Who allowed someone to name a worldview postmodernism? Isn’t there a consortium of philosophers watching out for this sort of thing?)
So, the approach that we call postmodernism (the one I have been talking about for a few weeks) teaches us not to accept absolutes and truths at face value. This approach causes us to question everything.
Don’t think of it as a bad thing. A person of this nature will question the Lordship of Christ and the authority of scripture – but they will also question the philosophy of Nihilsm and modern claims of religious plurality. A non-postmodernist is the type who believes in whatever they hear without giving it any thought and that is very dangerous. Also, since we do not live in the middle ages we should not expect our churches to “strongarm” people into going to church – it’s always OK for believers to ask questions.
Hold on to the good.
Avoid every kind of evil.
-1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
I’m not trying to be so audacious as to say that the Bible teaches postmodernism. But, notice that the believer is expected to ask questions about everything. When Thomas claimed that he would not believe in The Resurrection until he touched Jesus’ body, he didn’t have to wait long before Jesus showed up and invited him to touch his flesh. (This doesn’t make him a bad person. Remember, the other apostles weren’t too quick to catch on when the ladies arrived to tell them Jesus had risen.)
If postmodernism is a method of learning the truth then it can only point to what is absolutely true. The difficulty comes when we think postmodernism teaches us to deny absolutes – it does not. It specifically teaches us to be incredulous to them – which means that we can come to believe in those absolutes if our observations confirm them. Was there ever an actual believer who did not initially question the truths of the Bible – only to accept them in the end?
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)