<ul><li>Postmodernism is a comparative term that literally refers to the age following modernity. </li></ul><ul><li>The birth of the modern age can be traced to the Renaissance and its elevation of the individual self as the center of reality. </li></ul><ul><li>Descartes reappropriated Augustine’s dictum cogito ergo sum, revealing the prevailing modern anthropocentrism of his day. </li></ul><ul><li>Modern scientific advances ushered in the Enlightenment age through its passion of unlocking the secrets of nature. </li></ul>
<ul><li>For many recent generations, we have lived in a modern world that believes all of life can be rationally managed because knowledge is certain and objective. </li></ul><ul><li>Yet in recent decades, a growing number of social observers agree that we are in the midst of a transition that may well rival the cultural shift from medieval to modern thought. </li></ul><ul><li>History shows, however, that it is incredibly difficult to assess a transition while it is occurring. </li></ul>
<ul><li>According to postmodern philosophy, modern attempts to discover objective reality were in fact mythical illusions created for social control. </li></ul><ul><li>Postmoderns assert that these legitimizing myths, or metanarratives (literally “big stories”) no longer have the power over us they once did. </li></ul><ul><li>Jean-Francois Lyotard, a primary postmodern philosopher, put it this way: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives” ( The Postmodern Condition xxiii-iv). </li></ul>
<ul><li>Evangelicalism came of age in the modern era. </li></ul><ul><li>The Church, with its emphasis on systematic theologies, apologetics, and propositional content, successfully demonstrated the credibility of the Christian faith to moderns. </li></ul><ul><li>But in many ways, the postmodern ethos challenges Christianity by simply ignoring it or setting it aside as irrelevant. </li></ul><ul><li>Postmoderns reject Christian truth claims, not on the basis of the claims themselves but on the assumption that absolutes can ever be found. </li></ul>
<ul><li>“… tracts all begin with a personal God; today’s world doubts that such a being exists. They appeal to spiritual ‘laws,’ but the world has rejected the idea that there is such a thing as an absolute. And they use the Bible as an authoritative source in a world that dismisses it as irrelevant.” (David Henderson, Culture Shift 223). </li></ul>
<ul><li>For two thousand years, the Church has confronted culture and existed in tension with the world. </li></ul><ul><li>We cannot afford to ignore the culture and risk irrelevance; nor can we uncritically accept culture without risking syncretism and heresy. </li></ul><ul><li>How can twenty-first century Christians address faith in this new postmodern matrix? </li></ul>
<ul><li>“… I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized -- whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings on Christ -- but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become </li></ul>
<ul><li>just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.” (I Corinthians 9.19-22, The Message ) </li></ul>
<ul><li>PLEASE ADDRESS THREE OF THESE FIVE QUESTIONS IN THE DISCUSSION BOARD: </li></ul><ul><li>Is it possible to be critical of postmodernism and yet find promise in being postmodern? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you believe David Henderson is correct? If so, how can Christians address the issue of faith in this emerging postmodern culture? If not, where is he wrong? </li></ul><ul><li>From your observation, what is most authoritative for postmoderns today? </li></ul>
<ul><li>4. Blaise Pascal once wrote, “Seeing too much to deny, and too little to be sure, I am in a state to be pitied.” How does his observation describe… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Church today? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our postmodern world? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>5. What can we learn from the Apostle Paul’s model in I Corinthians 9 about connecting with our cultures? </li></ul>
<ul><li>ADDITIONAL TEXTS FOR OVERACHIEVERS </li></ul><ul><li>Grenz, Stanley J. A Primer on Postmodernism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996. </li></ul><ul><li>Henderson, David W. Culture Shift . Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. </li></ul><ul><li>Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002. </li></ul><ul><li>Taylor, Daniel. The Myth of Certainty . Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. </li></ul><ul><li>Veith, Gene Edward Jr. Postmodern Times . Wheaton: Crossway, 1994. </li></ul>
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