Postmodernism

Biblical Hermeneutics and Postmodernism, Part 2

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The Hermeneutics of Postmodernism

The hermeneutics of postmodernism are very diverse and difficult to understand.13 Written communication has three components: the author, the text, and the reader. As already noted, premodern and modern interpreters tried to uncover the intention of the author as expressed in the text. What is consistent in postmodern approaches of interpretation is that the author no longer controls the meaning of the text. Authorial intention is irrelevant in postmodern interpretation. Further, the text itself does not control meaning. The text is devoid of meaning altogether. In postmodern thinking, the reader not only controls the meaning but actually creates it. The text is merely an opportunity to explore the reader’s own perspectives. Vanhoozer explains: “Postmodernity is the triumph of situatedness—in race, gender, class—over detached objectivity… . Postmoderns typically think of interpretation as a political act, a means of colonizing and capturing texts and whole fields of discourse.”14

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Biblical Hermeneutics and Postmodernism, Part 1

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty and Alice share this playful exchange:

“And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

While Carroll wrote long before the rise of postmodernism, his fictional dialogue anticipated the hermeneutical chaos raised in postmodern thinking. We see Alice’s confusion and Humpty Dumpty’s disdain. Alice can’t quite wrap her mind around what Humpty Dumpty is saying; meanwhile Humpty Dumpty appears to enjoy the confusion his semantic wordplay is causing. This is the same kind of confusion postmoderns champion. Carroll’s fantasy has become reality. Postmodernism raises fundamental questions about the validity of communication. Questions such as, where does meaning originate? Who (or what) controls meaning? How do we know what truth is? Is truth objective and knowable? Is communication even possible?

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Truth, Post-Truth, and “Truth by Consensus”

"Functionally, truth by consensus has stepped up to fill the void left when we, in annoyance, bade objective truth to find quarters somewhere else. How did we get here? To orient ourselves in the current climate of moral reasoning, we need a quick refresher on philosophical developments, starting with the Enlightenment." - Ref21

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No Bibles in Iowa: The Curious Case of Cedar Rapids

Uncertainty vs. Renewed Confidence in the Word of God, Part 2

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Where to from Here?

As a result of these past and present influences, the church of Christ is facing an authority crisis. There has been a steady erosion of confidence in Scripture for several decades cumulating in theological and/or practical elimination of the need for the Bible in our lives. After all, in a society infatuated with success—theological understanding, biblical knowledge and even righteous living are no match for fancy buildings, high-powered programs, the finest in entertainment and emotional experiences (no matter what the source).

Very few churches grow numerically today because of solid teaching of the Word. That is because very few Christians today see the importance of the Word. To them the Bible is much like a musical concert, there to produce an experience, not to transform their lives. They see no vital connection between Scripture and life. To know God’s truth is not essential to how they want to live their lives, therefore they have no desire to study the Bible.

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