Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Diverting all auxiliary power to shields, Captian!

I feel a little bit like this dog looks. The pavement under him is probably wet and he has the surprised look on his face. Wow. I didn't expect all of the response I got. Keeping up with everyone is a bit tiring because, rather than answering a couple of questions each, a lot of you either had whole posts for me to read elsewhere or ten questions. I'm trying to stay on top of it all as best I can.

I want to respond to something in Joels' linked post:
"Conyers helpfully notes that evangelicalism ‘is essentially a critique of modernity, which postmodernism of almost any style also claims to be.’ The essence of modernity ‘is its offer of human autonomy, of choice.’ Postmodernism ‘is an attempt to construe the enterprise of theology so that we consider that we are “constructing” a world rather than discovering a world.’" (italics mine)

Evangelicalism is not a critique of modernity. Evangelicalism is rooted deep in the model of modernity. Individualism, isolationism and the belief that a science (systematic theology) can explain everything are rampant all over the evangelical movement. They have permeated to the deepest degree every church I've attended (and I've attended a lot of churches from a variety of evangelical denominations).

If in the course of our study and learning we do not ask ourselves whether we are constructing rather than discovering a world, we are doing ourselves and those that follow after us a great disservice. There needs to be freedom to ask that question, though, otherwise it isn't honest inquiry, which would violate the very principles of scientific discovery (a modern concept).

I, by no means, oppose modernity. I don't know if I've said that enough, or clear enough. My argument is to open the minds of others to the thoughts of a post-modern worldview. I will further that by the explanation I promised yesterday at the end of the post.

Is a post-modern worldview different from what we know as "liberalism?" The answer to the question is "Yes." Actually, there's a stark difference.
Liberalism is just a different form of fundamentalism. The fundamentals are just different. Liberalism is also based in the concepts of modernism, scientific study and findings, observation, and individualism/individual empowerment.
Post-Modernism is a different lens through which the world is looked at entirely. It does not compare in the same realm, because it is different.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
(Incredibly rudimentary, I know, but I'm at work and all I have is MSPaint)

At one end of the continuum stands fundamentalism and at the other is liberalism. They exist on the same continuum, just at opposite ends.

(I didn't choose the position of the third circle to represent superiority. I could've put it anywhere.)

As you can see by this example, post-modern thought is not on the same continuum or wave-length as liberal or fundamental thought. It is a different way of thinking entirely, just as Reformation brought about and/or liberated individuals to be free to have a different way of thinking. It is something new, altogether.

Many insist that Post-Modernism is a deconstructionist ideal that just seeks to take apart what has been put together. It is that to no more of an extent than the Reformation was to the previous school of thought. The Reformation dismantled significant portions of the Medieval view of the world and universe, but it also built upon some very solid things that were there.

I'm going to close out this post with just a thought on all of this. I believe at the very heart of post-modernism is the concept of "relationship." Many say that post-modernism rejects objective truth, flat out. That isn't true. What post-modernism rejects is objective truths that stand a part from personal meaning. They discover objective truth by it being made real to them through relational means. If you tell a person with a post-modern worldview that God loves them, but you do it once without showing any interest in who they are or caring about what they've been through or where they've come from, you have made yourself and God out to be a lie/liar. If you want them to know God loves them, demonstrating that will do more for them, as opposed to quoting the "Four Spiritual Laws" until you're blue in the face.

Once again, you might say "Amen" or "No, duh" to that, but the modern evangelical church doesn't. Objective truth, and objective truth alone, might work for people with a modern worldview, but it doesn't work for the next generation, which, like it or not, is thoroughly post-modern.

I'll leave you with a few quotes from C.S. Lewis on the matter. This helped me understand this whole concept better. (I apologize for the format screw up. Blogger wouldn't let me fix it.)

It would...be subtly misleading to say, "The medievals thought the universe to
be like that, but we know it to be like this." Part of what we now know is that
we cannot, in the old sense, "know" what the universe is "like" and that no
model we can build will be, in that old sense, "like" it...There is no question
here of the old Model's being shattered by the inrush of new phenomena. The
truth would seem to be the reverse; that when changes in the human mind produce
a sufficient disrelish of the old Model and a sufficient hankering for some new
one, phenomena to support that new one will obediently turn up. I do not at all
mean that these new phenomena are illusory. Nature has all sorts of phenomena in
stock and can suit many different tastes.


I hope no one will think that I am recommending a return to the Medieval Model.
I am only suggesting considerations that may induce us to regard all Models in
the right way, respecting all and idolizing none. We are all, very properly,
familiar with the idea that in every age the human mind is deeply influenced by
the accepted Model of the universe. But there is a two-way traffic; the Model is
also influenced by the prevailing temper of mind. We must recognize that what
has been called "a taste in universes" is not only pardonable but inevitable. We
can no longer dismiss the change of Models as a simple progress from error to
truth. No Model is a catalogue of ultimate realities, and none is a mere
fantasy. Each is a serious attempt to get in a ll the phenomena known at a given
period, and each succeeds in getting in a great many. But also, no less surely,
each reflects the prevalent psychology of an age almost as much as it reflects
the state of that age's knowledge. Hardly any battery of new facts could have
persuaded a Greek that the universe had an attribute so repugnant to him as
infinity; hardly any such battery could persuade a modern that it is
C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image


clumsy ox said...

I wrote a blog post a while ago, explaining my dispensationalism as a model. I only mention it, because it dovetails very well with your discussion here.

Our thought almost has to center on models. Modernist thinking considers only the model, whereas Post-modernist thinking considers the model more holistically: "The model says this, I wonder if I have any other evidence that it's true?". Where modern thought is based on propositions, post-modern thought gives equal weight to experience.

Once again, I see tremendous opportunity in this for Christians. If we can only walk out what we believe, the post-modern culture around us will almost certainly be willing to listen. They take personal experience very seriously.

The (possibly false) idea of post-modernism rejecting absolute truth is not insignificant. We need to remember that the average person is too intellectually lazy: he or she is likely to use the label "post-modern" to justify his or her lack of effort. What I mean is, people are apt to take a title to excuse their own behaviour. A person who chooses to reject the concept of absolute truth will take whatever label necessary to legitimize such a decision. "Post-modern" is simply the convenient label du jour.

Suddenly all those books by Francis Schaeffer seem a lot more relevant, don't they?

But I think the Scripture was written in anticipation of post-modernism, just like it was written in anticipation of every other development. God knows the end from the beginning, and He has given us "all things that pertain to life and godliness". I mean, if 1 John doesn't show us a Divine Aufhebung, I can't think of what the whole point of it is...

These are great posts, bro. Thoughtful and provoking.

Emma Sometimes said...

CS Lewis is one of my favorite authors.

KingJaymz said...

Thanks for the support Mark. Much appreciated. You're right. Post-Modernism is no excuse for academic laziness. It tends to provide a more convenient one than the school of Modern thought does.

Emma: He's one of my favorite, too. Since he's pretty universally respected, I'm using him as a parachute today ^_^ I can easily be written off as just some radical, whacko kid. Clive lends me some of his credibility.

Emma Sometimes said...

Have you read his autobiography. GOOD STUFF. That was my first paper I ever wrote in high school..home school, you know.

I want to know why he didn't go by Clive. Clive Staples isn't that bad, now is it? Oh, who am I kidding. I'd go by Jack, too.

R said...

Love Lewis and have no idea what you are talking about.

KingJaymz said...

r: Thanks for coming by anyway to encourage me. You're a true Sister in the Lord.

Dapoppins said...

Is there going to be a test?

Joel W said...

I wish I could send you the entire article, but I only have it in print.

I think it would be useful to define terms since we are painting with such a broad brush. I do not mean to defend 'evangelical' because I think the term is empty of meaning. What you are defining as evangelical is one possibility amongst others. Also, what exactly is post-modernism? You can get many, many different answers.

Conyers says: "The heart of modernity is not individualism per se, but the individual without God - the autonomous individual. And it is not rationalism per se, but a rationalism that is capable of making human beings autonomous. Postmodernity as we have come to know it is perfectly loyal to the project of modernity, while posing as its critic in order to escape what would result in an authentic Postmodernity - the return to the idea of a God who creates, sustains, and intercedes in life and Who is therefore the true center and anchor of our existence."

Speaking as an Anglican, I look for a pre-modern revival - a medieval revival with church at the center of life, healthy respect for one's place in society and for authority, the tradition of the Church, and the presupposition that all things come from God and are to be seen in that light. I see our liturgy and history the common bond and the life of the church as outside and invading the life of the world. We do not need post-modernity, we have the liturgy, and it is what shapes us.

Wish I could explain myself better. I am very sympathetic to post-modernity, but as it is mediated through guys like Peter Leithart and Joel Garver.

KingJaymz said...

Joel, I appreciate your more supportive response today. It goes a long way to encourage me.

(Before I go any further, allow me to just say, I worked 14+ hours today and I've had a beer, so I'm trying, and if I say something that sounds rude or condescending, I beg your forgiveness in advance)

First, it is incredibly difficult to define post-modernity because it is in its infancy. It'd be like asking Luther to define what the Reformation view or modernity the day after the diet of Worms (which is the town my ancestors are from, incidentally {not like that makes me immediately more gooder, smartur}).

I think you'd be surprised if you did a little more searching to see that much post-modern Christian thought is reaching back into the ancient and medieval Christian traditions for ideas. As a matter of fact, I think most of post-modern thought has much more in common with medieval and ancient traditions than it does modern.

I wish you could see that it isn't about whether or not we "need" post-modernity. It's coming and will completely change the Western world, whether or not we like it. It is the new worldview and culture. We need to figure out how to approach that in a Christlike and relevant way. I would not be opposed to a medieval revival, but I don't see the past becoming the future.

Joel W said...

I actually think that it arrived back in the 60's or earlier with the rise of Derrida and Focault. There are already moves in our day to 'post-post modernism' whatever that might mean.

I know pomo Christians like John Milbank are heavily liturgical.


KingJaymz said...

I have heard talk about post-post-modernism, but it has always come from people who have no comprehension of what post-modernism is, and has generally been insincere or mocking in tone. It comes across as modernists trying to re-vogue or re-institute modernism, rather than a genuine outlook or worldview.

-Benny- said...

Forgive me for being practical. But after 12 plus years of working in the church, I've got a few opinions on all of the PM stuph and it tends to run in a practical vein.

1. People, as a whole, are becomming different. Different in the way they process info, respond to God, respond to scripture, think about scripture...and different in the way they desire to "do church".

2. Christians need to/are going to change in the way we put togehter chuch. We need to closely consider our liturgy, traditions, rituals, and opinions about how we are to live out our faith together.

3. How do we do this? Love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And love others like we love our self. I would also add, listen for God's direction and trust that His Holy Spirit is active and alive...and will show us how to care for these people that we don't really get.

4. Change is already here whether we like it or not. As Christians we need to figure out how to roll with it. Because it doesn't matter if any new way of thought or new philosophy is wrong, anti-christian, goes against God, or is a fad, if it arrives it's here and it then becomes something Christians have to deal with. Not saying we have to become PM but we DO have to recognize others are and then begin loving them and caring for them.

So bottom line, lets make sure we are loving God, and truly loving others and trust that God will clue us in when the time is right.

Jared, I'm excited about your heresy. You are in my prayers as God guides you. All I can say is...Welcome to the club FRIEND!!

Niki said...

OOOH Good discussion! I feel like I'm in college again with some of the phraseology though. It's intimidating to some of us.

I agree with my wonderful husband - change is already here. Love God - love others (and I mean really love them, don't just say you do)-and seek guidance from the HS in every aspect of life. There's more, but this is not MY dissertation. ;)

I'll be curious to see what comes next...

Joel W said...

I actually don't think that people are 'becoming different' and I don't think the church has to do anything other than what she always has - preach the word, administer the sacraments, discipline the faithful. It might sound a little different given our different contexts, but there is nothing new under the sun, as a man once said. And it was C.S. Lewis who talked about the arrogance of the modern. Thinking our day is so special is not realistic to me.