Series - Postmodernism

Postmodernism 3 - Characteristics

From Sunesis. Posted with permission. Read the series.

Gene Veith identifies a series of characteristics held by most expressions of postmodernism.

Social Constructivism. Meaning, morality and truth do not exist objectively. This is at the heart of the postmodernist worldview. Truth, with its attendant concepts of meaning and morality, are “constructed” by society. Everything centers around the story that the community has created to establish its validity. The community in which a person places himself creates their own versions of these things. Thus, what is truth for one group is not necessarily truth for another. Rewriting history for the good of the “story” is the basis of truth.

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Postmodernism 2 - Development

Posted with permission from Sunesis.

There are several characteristics of postmodernism that lie at the foundation of this worldview. Just as in the previous two meta-worldviews (premodernism and modernism), not everyone accepts all of these. Nevertheless, we can see some similarities among the postmoderns and draw at least some general conclusions.

Gene Veith has identified five key steps that have been taken in the movement toward postmodernism. First is Abandonment; this is antinomianism, a rejection of morality and objectivity of any kind. This is predicated on relativism. Truth is not fixed and objective, but variable and relative. Truth is personal—something can be true for one person but not true for another. This “personal” aspect of truth has to be limited, however, for the individual is not important in postmodernism. It takes a village to raise a child; so it takes a community to establish truth. Thus truth is societal—truth is determined by society, not by individuals. As one put it, “Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with.” Second is Truancy. The best means of avoiding problems is to retreat from them. Our government has become adept at refusing to actually deal with a problem, but rather simply allow the problem to continue to an indefinite future point when “we will take care of it then.” Individuals become dependent on someone else to solve their problems, for they have lost the ability or the will to fend for themselves.

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Postmodernism - An Introduction

Posted with permission from Sunesis.

We live in a society dominated by a philosophy of change, a departure from human values, and the rise of anti-authoritarianism. We hear “post” frequently in terms such as post-Christian, post-liberal, and post-conservative; this is also a time of globalism and neo-paganism. Philosophers call the philosophy of this age Postmodernism. Before we look at just what this movement is all about, and how it affects each of us today, a little history is appropriate.

Premodernism was the worldview (whether people understood it as such or not) dominated by authority (in the West this authority was the Catholic Church) and a respect for that authority. It routinely included a belief in a deity and man’s responsibility toward that deity. Angels and demons, the miraculous, and the spiritual were an assumed part of life.

Modernism followed. With the Enlightenment of the 17th century came the rejection of the authority of tradition in favor of human reason and natural science. The autonomous human was the source of meaning and truth, and human ability became the god of this age. There were good things that came from the Enlightenment. It was foundational to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights. It broke the power of Catholicism in Europe. It restored dignity to the individual. Modernism, however, had significant problems. It assumed that man could do anything, including putting himself on the moon and launching himself into the universe. Thus Star Trek became the ultimate in modernist scientific thinking—man could even overcome the laws of physics. With the rise of reason and science, however, came a rejection of the miraculous. There could still be a god, if man felt he needed one, but it would have to be a god subject to the laws of physics and nature. Deism rose at about the same time as Modernism. It was a good fit, for the god of the Deist was one who set in motion the universe as we know it and left it to itself. In the modern worldview, there was a confidence that truth could be discovered and demonstrated as true. The debates, therefore, centered on metaphysical realities—is there a God or is there not? Is Jesus God or is he not? Did miracles happen or did they not? In these debates, it was assumed that there was a definitive answer which could be demonstrated by science, reason, and argumentation. Baptist individualism rose, especially in America, with the rise of the emphasis on the person. For Baptists (and others in the New World), meaning and truth were based on the human conscience and intellect informed by biblical truth. Bible believers were unwilling to give up the God of the Bible or His truth, but the interpretation of that truth was no longer based in tradition.

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