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The Church and Postmodernism

The Church and Postmodernism

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Published by Ben
The final product of an Independent Study I did in Spring 2010. Here I look into the philosophical and cultural position of postmodernism, specifically focusing on textual authority and hermeneutics, and how this applies to the interpretation of Scripture and biblical authority for Christians. In the end I suggest that Christians appropriate postmodernism with caution, as it can be a useful tool in freeing us from the restrictions of modernity and fostering a culture that is more receptive to a message of faith.
The final product of an Independent Study I did in Spring 2010. Here I look into the philosophical and cultural position of postmodernism, specifically focusing on textual authority and hermeneutics, and how this applies to the interpretation of Scripture and biblical authority for Christians. In the end I suggest that Christians appropriate postmodernism with caution, as it can be a useful tool in freeing us from the restrictions of modernity and fostering a culture that is more receptive to a message of faith.

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Published by: Ben on May 12, 2010
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1
The Church and Postmodernism
By Ben Wulpi
 
Spring 2010
 
2
Introduction
What is truth? asked Pilate to the Lord on the day of Jesus crucifixion
.
1
The question appliestoday just as much as it did 2000 years ago
.
People are still asking the same questions, searching formeaning in what they find to be true
.
This is a question that seems even more prevalent today, aspeople seek truth in all forms of religion, spirituality or philosophy
.
In a society that is increasinglyrelativistic, truth is becoming more difficult to grasp on to, when many are saying that their truth is notthe same as your truth
.
 Postmodernism is a philosophical position that many Christians fear is advocating this sort of relativism
.
It seems to threaten our understanding of truth and interpretation, and be profoundly anti-religious
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We dont want anyone or any philosophy telling us that ours is not the only form of truth,because, as we know, our way of truth is Gods way of truth, and no cultural philosophy can tell usotherwise
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Postmodernisms claim is that there is no absolute truth, so it cannot be compatible withChristianity and we must reject it
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Or rather, this is the claim of postmodernism as expressed by manyChristians fearful of its changes
.
 Along with the extreme modern reaction from Christians, some Christians are embracingpostmodernism full-out, and take it to the extreme and create churches that do embrace relativism andpresent a watered-down version of the gospel
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The key is to understand what postmodernism really is inorder to find the proper balance of how to do Christianity while engaging with our culture
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 As this paper will show, I believe that these radical fears and radical embracings of postmodernism result from misconceptions about what postmodernism really is
.
I will show thatpostmodernism is not damaging to our Christian faith, but rather, that it is conducive to a life of 
1
John 18:38
 
3biblically-grounded faith
.
Postmodernism is in fact a philosophy in which Christianity can grow andthrive
.
 The purpose of this paper is to investigate the paradigm of postmodernism and how it relates toChristians, specifically in the areas of truth and interpretation of Scripture
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The paper is split into threemain sections
.
The first deals with the philosophy of postmodernism and what it truly is, first trying tosubmit it to definition, which is no easy task
.
Then I move on to postmodernisms foundations, primarilyas a reaction against modernity and the foundationalism of Enlightenment epistemology
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This involveslooking into the foundations of modernism as well, which I can in no way do justice to in a paper of thissize
.
From there I discuss certain characteristics that constitute postmodernism, from the specific waysin which it rejects modernism to Derridas deconstruction and Lyotards incredulity towardmetanarratives, drawing special attention to postmodernitys relation to pre-modernity
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This is afascinating connection to make, especially when we realize the suppression of epistemology of theMiddle Ages by the emerging modern thought of the Enlightenment
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The connections betweenpostmodern and pre-modern are especially strong in regards to how they read texts, which is theprimary direction of this paper
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 The second section focuses on truth and interpretation in regards to postmodern thought
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Ibegin this by looking in to the philosophy of Jacques Derrida known as deconstruction
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Derrida, who wasthe key figure focus of my research, has much to say about how we read texts and employ ourlanguage
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The philosophy of language is one of the key elements in postmodern thought, and the use of our language has a great deal to do with how we view our world
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A key part here is the comparisonbetween the philosophies of Derrida and Hans-Georg Gadamer in regards to language
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I then look intothe objectivity/subjectivity question
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One thing characteristic of postmodernism is that it denies thepossibility of objective interpretation, which is a big deal for many people who rely on scientific

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