Several people have made the astute observation that we need some more definition of terms to help engage the conversation. With that in mind, I’d like to tackle the idea of postmodernism in a four part post that examines James Smith’s book “Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?”, where he engages three postmodern philosophers: Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Michel Foucault. This is the fourth and final of the four part series (part one; part two; part three). I have adapted these posts from a paper I wrote in the fall of 2009. This post is particularly desiring your interaction!
In final summary, then, postmodernism contends that there is no truth without interpretation, has a deep suspicion of systems of power, and is an exploration of alternate paths to what possesses meaning and substance. This is not to say that in postmodernism modernism has ceased to exist, or that postmodernism is an effort to rid the world of modernism. Instead, postmodernism allows for the opening of additional angles of discussion on what truth and life are all about. For a brief, simple explanation of the coexistence of postmodernism and modernism, check out this video/blog post.
It’s also worth noting that while generations might have tendencies towards modernist or postmodern mindsets, neither is generationally exclusive. The ideas that form postmodernity have been percolating for decades and are not a discovery of the last decade or two (though it’s in the last decade that they have picked up steam in Evangelical discussions).
With the three ideas proposed about postmodernism at the beginning of this post in mind, what paths might you see it opening up in discussions related to the Gospel? In what ways does it challenge our current approach to sharing the Gospel?