“Postmodernists are just wrong – they say there’s no absolute truth!” I said to my friend, Mark.
“I didn’t know Postmodernists felt that way.” he replied, confused. “Which philosophers have you read that say that?”
“Well…I, uh…” I couldn’t think of anything. “I’m sure I’ve heard that, somewhere. I mean, I think people say that.” I suddenly remembered that he was a philosophy major, and I was studying history.
“I disagree with those people,” he told me, ” I think that is an abuse of postmodernism.”
I never forgot those words. I had certainly heard people say that postmodernism is about not believing in any sort of truth, and plenty of people have tried to use it to oppose Christianity, but I discovered that these people were wrong and that the leaders of postmodern philosophy would be the first to disagree with them. So, what is the right way to understand it?
Postmodernism is best defined as follows: incredulity towards meta-narratives.
I know, that probably doesn’t help.
The idea is that a postmodern mind does not easily accept any truth. Is the world spiraling into chaos as each generation embraces more rebellious ways? Is science leading us to happier frontiers? Are we living in a more enlightened time than our ancestors, or have we lost something? A postmodernist does not accept any of these over-arching ideas (meta-narratives) and tries to find the truth without using any of these assumptions as a starting point. (Read here if you want more of the philosophical stuff. If you’d like to read a post that explains postmodernism with pictures of kittens then click here.)
Does this sound obscure and useless? Some people think so, and that’s fine. It’s also harmless to Christianity. In fact, no one learns the truth until they put aside their preconceptions and really question everything they’ve been told to see if it’s really true, and that’s at the core of postmodern thought.
“Test everything that is said to be sure it is true, and if it is, then accept it.” 1 Thessalonains 5:21
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)