Saturday, November 10, 2007

Is postmodernism really "back to the future?"

It's been a while since I posted anything here--you know the saying, "Life is what happens while you were making other plans."? My wife has been ill (doctors still don't know what or why), several car breakdowns (I'm finding the Internet more useful than the repair manuals you buy at the parts stores, but you have to get home to use it.) Anyway, enough has been going on to push blogging to a low priority. BUT--lately somebody came over and read my postings lately, read the whole schmutz, apparently, AND LEFT COMMENTS!! So I know he was here! (Thank you, ded, for giving this tired blogger a shot in the arm, and maybe a needed kick in the pants!)

Going back to the title of this blog, I thought I'd say some more about the "postmodern" thing. While some Christians have come down hard "agin it", I think they're overreacting to the first stages when they should be pitching in to have a chance to help shape the final product. A few months ago Harrison Scott Key, on the World Magazine blog, made the remark that "postmodern" with a small "p" really only means "what comes after 'modern'."

Yes, there are some common characteristics. But I think a case can be made that even these are not necessarily opposed to Christianity. For instance, take distrust of authority: I admit I have a pretty strong distrust of human authority. But it has nothing to do with any academic philosophy or literary criticism; rather it is rooted in the doctrine of the Fall, as I learned it from the writings of C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. Because human beings are fallen creatures who do not always do what is right, I am not going to put unlimited trust in any human authority figure, in government, business, or the church. (I do not have a problem with God's authority--He isn't a fallen human being). The idea the man is basically good is not a Christian teaching; it is one of the results of the modern worldview. It did not take hold in this country until after the Civil War. In fact, the writers of the US Constitution definitely did not believe men could be trusted with absolute authority; that's why they wrote so many checks and balances into the Constitution. For many years I regarded myself as something of a "throwback" or pre-modern, because some of my attitudes were more common among Christians of the late 1700s rather than in the 1960s and 70s. And I think the postmodern shift may be recovering something valuable that people in the last century moved away from.

To give an idea what this can mean, from something that happened a few years ago: We attended a new church that was starting up in the Lawrenceburg area, a Vineyard church. The pastor made a poor decision about the order of service. It was a poor decision for two reasons: he rejected what most of his people wanted; and because he had agreed publicly to what they wanted, it put him in a position of going back on his word. Under the Vineyard church structure, the local pastor pretty much has the authority to do whatever he wants. But I can't find anything in Scripture that teaches that having authority automatically protects you from being stupid, or protects you from the consequences of bad decisions (half the people left that church in a couple of weeks). Look at Rehoboam in the Old Testament--he shot off his mouth and was left with only a fraction of his kingdom's territory and population.

Well, life is intruding again; have to get out and do some things. I'll try to get some more posting in soon.


ded said...

I appreciate your take on "post-modernism" here. That's one of the reasons I like reading your blog. I'm glad me reading your blog gave you some encouragement!

Thanks for visiting mine, also.
I am going to talk to Steve. Maybe he can help me set up an e-mail account associated with my blog, and then we can have a contact mode other than the comments sections of one another's blogs. 8^)

ded said...

I was saddened to hear your wife is experiencing health problems. The kind that the doctors are unsure of are especially difficult.

I hope she is improving and you are both in my prayers.