Postmodernity and Evangelical Thought (1): An Introduction

Postmodernism (PM) can be defined as a mood that questions authority, denies absolute truth, and locates meaning in the language of local communities.  While PM is the product of twentieth century thought, its precursors go back much further in history.  For instance, Friedrich Schleiermacher espoused a view of doctrine that was impermanent and always changing relative to the community in which it was experienced.  While situated more than a century before the likes of Derrida, Lyotard, and other philosophers of language, Schleiermacher’s liberal theology anticipates the postmodern turn.

Still, the question of authority, truth, and community predates Schleiermacher, too.  In John 18:38 Pilate, in a discussion about kingdoms, authority, and truth, asks Jesus, “What is truth?”  The relativism in his question comes not from a philosophical system of Western thought; it comes from the human condition that stands outside of the Garden.

Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, their offspring has sought to assert their own authority, to make up their own laws, and to live in their own cities of men.  Over time, as Western Civilization once again threw off the constraints of God’s Word and church tradition, the question of the hour is that of Pilate: What is truth?

This series of blog posts aims to give an answer to the postmodern mood that undergirds our ambient culture.  To answer the question about postmodernism we must first consider modernism, as post-modernism stands in direct relationship to his period of time and thought.  Second, I will survey postmodernism and its major contributing voices.  And third, this series will consider the effect postmodernism has had on evangelical theology, and what evangelicals must do to wisely and selectively appropriate the tenets of postmodernity.

As we go along, let me know what you think.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

How Did We Get Here? A Basic Outline on Western Thought

‘How did we get here?’

That’s a good question. Whether you are lost in the woods or lost in the world, retracing your steps is a vital way of finding our bearings and dealing with lostness.

This Sunday, I begin a sermon series on a biblical view of marriage and sexuality. However, before approaching the horizon of the biblical text, we must know where are we and what are we dealing with. I am not suggesting that our cultural location is the church’s normative authority.  Just the reverse. However,  to help Christians (and non-Christians) understand what God expects of our sexuality, we must consider some of the influences that have shaped our present sexual climate.

With that in mind, I have drawn up a basic graph that traces how Westerners have changed their thinking over the last two millennia. Continue reading