Understanding Postmodernism

"The post modernist understanding of knowledge therefore, is built on two foundational assumptions: (1) post moderns view all explanations of reality as constructions that are useful but not objectively true, and (2) post moderns deny that we have the ability to step outside our constructions of reality." [Grenz, Stanley J, A Primer on Postmodernism, p. 43]

Also primary is that "The post modern world view operates with a community-based understanding of truth. It affirms that whatever we accept as truth and even the way we envision truth are dependent on the community in which we participate." [Grenz, p. 8 ]

The Dark Side!

Postmodernism is characterized by:

An intellectual mood of gnawing dark pessimism and disillusionment with the violent behavior of men [ Grenz, p. 13]

A belief that universal truth can not be discovered and proved through rational thought and that knowledge is pluralistic

"Post modern skepticism therefore, leaves us in a world characterized by a never-ending struggle of competing interpretations." [Grenz, p. 164]

Asserts that knowledge can be acquired through non rational, emotional or intuitive means.

"Post modern thinkers have given up the Enlightenment quest for any one universal, supracultural, timeless truth." [Grenz, p. 8]

" ... in keeping with this largely negative orientation, post modern intellectuals have generally not sought to provide any constructive new proposals. Their goal has primarily been to set forth a critique of the Enlightenment project on the basis of it's own underlying principles."
[Grenz, p. 162]

What is Meant by Modernism?

It is the idea that knowledge is certain, objective and good. It is characterized by "the scientific method, the empirical approach to reality, and common sense realism .... it glorifies reason and deifies science." [Grenz, p. 161 ]

It is an objective belief (not a constructionist belief) that "assertions are either true or false, and we can determine whether they are true or false by comparing them with the world."

"Most historians suggest that the modern era was born when the Enlightenment brought new hope to war ravaged Europe." in 1648 at the conclusion of the Thirty Year's War. It had its roots a century before that in the Renaissance which was a rebirth of the classical spirit in the Greek and Roman empires. It started to develop during the Enlightenment period of the 16th century in the works of Francis Bacon (1561 -1626) who was hailed as one of the first modern scientists. [ Grenz, p. 59].

What is a metanarrative? A metanarrative is the central core of a culture's beliefs, values, religion or myths which define the society as a coherent whole. Note that many post moderns equate religion with myth as if there were no moral truth aside from myth.

Quotes from the book A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley J. Grenz.

Need more info on Postmodernism? Visit the Webzine Boundless.org or pick up a copy of Stanley Grenz' A Primer on Postmodernism

How Practical Really is Postmodernism?

So is truth all relative? Does truth change as one moves between cultures and subsets of cultures? The answer is yes according to Post modernists. They think there is no objective truth, no truth which stands alone out of context. Read the brief synopsis of Postmodernism at the left, which was taken from a book by Stanley Grenz.

If one had the guts, the best statement one could make about a class in postmodernism is to argue on validity of your grade on the final exam. After all, if the final exam grade the professor gives you is only his version of the truth, it's not automatically valid for you. His version of the truth shouldn't really matter to you. It is only his opinion of your performance. Therefore, a bad grade from the professor is not valid in your construction of reality! After all, you define yourself as a member of a different local community: that of college students. Since truth and reality only extend to the borders of local communities, he/she is outside your local construct.

So if you are a gutsy person, show up at your professor's office after the final exam and joke that you deserve an "A" because if they gave you a lesser grade it only represents their opinion of the true value of your final exam paper. Hey, we're not supposed to be making truth claims here are we? How can a professor teach that there are no truth statements one minute and then turn around and hand over the grades to the dean the next minute declaring them to be a true analysis of your performance? Having shown that postmodernism is not a practical theory for colleges to teach, since you can't implement it, you deserve an "A" just for listening to the nonsensical prattling of Post World War II French philosophers all semester. After all, you continue "I'm paying a lot of money to be educated! Give me something I can use! Stop wasting my time and my money!"

Unfortunately, although it is philosophically sound in  principle, you'd have to know the professor pretty well to joke around with your final grade. The 21st century university in America vehemently teaches Postmodernism as a valid philosophy, yet they hypocritically do not live out its values. The professor's grade is a professional opinion of your performance but it is a truth claim to the administration of the university. Hence, the actual living out of post modern values is not practical, even in an environment where it is an accepted belief! So go to your final, but at least you can quote me on your final exam regarding their inconsistencies.

The bottom line is that the grading system of a college does not function according to post modern belief. They would have no grades at all if they were truly post modern. Why? Well postmodernism doesn't go hand in hand with rationality, analysis, and objective truth. The college insists on being able to analyze and determine, through the use of reason, rational and universally meaningful grades for all of your important classes. How else would they know if you could graduate? As long as universities grant degrees, they must be able to determine who has earned a degree and who has not. So they must make an evaluation of your performance. Why? Well for one thing, employers want to know who to hire. Employers want to know if you can perform since they will be spending money and risking performance for you. If there were no grades and no degrees, how would a company know if they wanted to hire you? Hey, reason and analysis aren't so bad after all - at least they are practical.

Now for another case in point. If you ever see the cockpit of a commercial air liner, you might be shown "George" which is a nickname for the autopilot that they use to fly the plane. After all why should they bother to pilot the plane when they can drink coffee, eat pretzels and tell jokes? When they take off they type in the destination airport's coordinates to "George" who takes then them almost exactly to the point where they should land.

But what if one day "George", the autopilot computer, had enough artificial intelligence built in to suddenly turn into a post modernist and assert that the coordinates they gave him were not knowable truth or in any way valid for George? The computer decides it can and should fly anywhere it wants because many destinations seem valid to him. So George makes his own determination of what is right for him. George decides to go to Arizona because he is tired of having his wings covered with ice. George is so happy about his decision to fly south for the winter that he tells the other planes like him that they should do the same thing. Now just try running Chicago's O'Hare airport with a bunch of post modernist autopilots. Another plane decides to go to the beach instead of Chicago. The result is part chaos and part paralysis.

Now let's move that scenario to the world of men. Since there is no universal truth, each man does that which is right in his own eyes. If he doesn't like his wife and kids anymore, he leaves them with out any child support, and moves to Tahiti. If you have a society of post modernist people, you end up with a lot of selfish people. How is that progress for mankind? What about the children?

The same principle applies to how you live your life. If you want to get somewhere safely, postmodernism will not help you in the real world. It is not a reliable philosophy. It does not care if you crash. In sharp contrast, the practical living out of Christian principles in your life is a mandate from God. Christians are to be servants. It's not always fun but it's better than being selfish or abandoned.

God is intensely concerned with where your life is headed. He doesn't want you to crash. He knows what makes a person happy in the long run and that's why He has rules. God's rules do not keep you from experiencing pleasure, they preserve you so you can experience joy.

Just like the airports have a complex system of air traffic controllers and FAA rules, God also has a complex structure of law, justice, judgment, and grace or punishment. To implement the grace part and nullify the need for punishment which is demanded by holiness, He provided for a Savior. Christ had to die on the cross so the whole system had integrity. Once you understand the mechanics of God's plan and the nature of mankind, salvation by Christ's death on a cross makes a lot of sense. To someone unfamiliar with the mechanics of it, the plan of salvation at first seem to be a pile of irrelevant crap.

A holy God demands justice if a law is broken. No man is capable of keeping all of God's laws. So to be just, when a law is broken, God has to punish the guilty party. Some one has to pay the penalty. Sounds pretty harsh doesn't it? So God makes up the shortfall with Christ. Our acceptance of Christ's death on the cross as an acceptable and just payment for our error is the function of grace and result is our salvation. Oh and by the way, we all make mistakes, nobody is perfect enough to stand uncondemned in front of God at the end of their life.

So where did postmodernism come from?

In modernist thinking, our rational selves were supposed to gain knowledge of an ordered knowable universe and achieve, theoretically, a utopia of consensus and peace. But when that utopia didn't happen, people finally admitted that something was wrong. Knowledge of a rational ordered universe wasn't getting them anywhere, so they blamed the nature of the universe. Post World War II France was not a pretty picture. Neither was Germany or England. World War II was not supposed to ever happen because World War I was the war to end all wars. But as is often the case, things tend to not live up to their advertising claims. World War I was no exception. Where is the Utopia we were supposed to achieve with our rationality? Let's throw out rationality if this is what it gets us. So anti-rationality was born.

Christianity clearly teaches that human nature is the problem, not the nature of the universe. Most people do not understand that sin is the real problem in the world. The post modern movement was initiated because of a total lack of understanding of sin and a complete rejection of Jesus as being the way (the road), the truth, and the life as He claimed to be (John 14:6). Christianity also teaches that there is a unifying center to reality in Jesus.

Pride keeps people from admitting that they did something that was wrong. They blame anybody or anything except for themselves. Post modernists even try to do away with the very concept of right and wrong in a pitiful attempt to shift the blame to the nature of reality. The trouble with their thinking is that they do not understand that man's sin is the problem with reality.

But just try convincing a post modernist that the constructs and consensus of Hitler's Germany is just as valid as any other societal consensus. Even they will cringe at that. Or what if, since there is no right and wrong, a community decides that killing post modernists is fun? You will find them running for cover to save their hides. Nobody wants to die for a metaphysical theory. Suddenly post modernists all over the world will reach a consensus that the irrational killing of post modernists is "wrong". Oh my, their fuzzy unknowable reality suddenly comes into focus! They must declare that something is universally wrong which violates their beliefs. God had the ten commandments there all along. Murder is wrong. The puzzle is why people are offended by the ten commandments when they are there for their own protection. God's law deserves a huge amount of respect for its foresight.

Web page author J. D. Mulrooney Copyright @ 2007 -2014 CollegePrayer.org.
The anti-Christian post modernist culture present on secular campuses across the country is infertile, dry, rocky soil for Christian growth. Find an oasis!
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