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Postmodern Christianity

Postmodern Christianity

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Published by jrrozko
Final paper for the class, "Anglo-American Postmodernity," at Fuller Theological Seminary. Taken with Nancy Murphy in Winter '06.
Final paper for the class, "Anglo-American Postmodernity," at Fuller Theological Seminary. Taken with Nancy Murphy in Winter '06.

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Published by: jrrozko on Jun 18, 2009
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06/12/2013

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Christianity in a Postmodern Context
J.R. Rozko jrrozko@gmail.com/ Box # 889
Question 9: Write a description (either from your own experience or from imagination) that fills in box 3 below.
Modern PostmodernLiberalConservative
Anglo-American Postmodernity (PH 530)Dr. Nancy MurphyFuller Theological Seminary – Winter ’06
123
 
Rozko 1
 Introduction
 
Truth is stranger than it used to be
. This is a title from a book by J. RichardMiddleton and Brian J. Walsh. The very fact that someone could choose a title like thisfor a book clearly exhibits the shift in the West of the macro-culture
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from a modern oneto a postmodern one. In modernity, truth could never be thought of as strange, it was justthe truth, plain and simple, black and white. However, various strands of postmodernphilosophy have given scientists and theologians alike pause in terms of how theyapproach their fields and how they conceive of truth.In modernity, Christianity was bifurcated into two main groups, conservatives andliberals. Conservatives have tended to emphasize personal devotion to prayer and Biblestudy and featured a gospel which entails something of a here/there sort of dualismwhereby salvation is seen primarily as securing ones place in Heaven by confessing Jesusas Lord and Savior. Discipleship then is reduced to managing sin in ones life and findingvarious ways in which to serve and evangelize. Liberals, on the other hand, have tendedto emphasize personal devotion to acts of civic duty and social justice. The gospel forthem entails more of a now/then sort of dualism whereby salvation is best understood ascreating the best possible society (Heaven?) here on earth. Discipleship for liberals thenis more focused on addressing societal and social sin and going about the task of lobbying for legislation that makes for a more just society. The question at hand is,“Must these remain the only options for Christians as we move into an increasinglypostmodern culture?”
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I use “macro-culture” here because not all the various sub-cultures in the West can appropriately bedescribed as postmodern.
 
Rozko 2What I will aim to do in this paper is to highlight some of the more major shifts interms of postmodern philosophical thought, namely, those of epistemology, linguistictheory, and metaphysics. Then, I will draw correlations between these fields and that of Christian theology. Finally, I will offer some thoughts as to what the implications forChristianity and the church in postmodernity might be. What I hope to show is that thesephilosophical shifts, inasmuch as they free us from some of the trappings of modernityand offer alternative ways of thinking and seeing, have the potential to help Christians, of both liberal and conservative persuasions, find a new way to dialogue and co-exist.
From Foundationalism to Communal Discernment 
 In beginning to discuss the postmodern shift with regard to epistemology, it isfirst necessary to understand its modern history. Epistemology in the modern periodgrew out of a system known as foundationalism. “Foundationalism is a theory aboutknowledge… Some historians trace foundationalism all the way back to Plato, but morecommonly it is identified with modern philosophy, beginning with Rene Descartes.”
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 Simply understood, Descartes aimed to strip away all that which he claimed to believeuntil he came to a fact which was indisputable and universally applicable. The result washis famous,
cogito ergo sum
, “I think therefore I am.” Then, based on this foundation,Descartes proceeded to add items of belief that could be logically derived from thisfoundation such as his idea of God, and the notion of formal reality.However, certain philosophers have noted serious problems with a foundationalistapproach to epistemology. “Foundationalist philosophers have pursued two broadstrategies in seeking categories of beliefs suited to serve as justification for the rest of 
2
Nancey Murphy.
 Anglo-American Postmodernity
, 9. (hereafter –
 AAP)

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