Friday, April 27, 2012

Postmodernism and Age

In yesterday's post I gave a brief description of postmodernism. In this post I want to discuss the connection between postmodern philosophy and age.

Postmodern people can be any age, but typically, the younger people are, the more likely they are to have a postmodern worldview. Dr. Jan W. van Deth, a political science professor at the University of Mannheim, and Elinor Scarbrough, a senior lecturer in government at the University of Essex and co-director of the Essex Summer School in Data Analysis and Collection, have studied postmodernism extensively. They have presented a number of papers and edited a book on the subject. Based on their studies, they conclude that “postmodern orientations are most common among young people and the well-educated.”

There is no set age at which individuals suddenly decide to become postmodern. Instead, postmodern tendencies are more like a graph in which the younger a person is, the more postmodern his or her worldview is likely to be. This connection between age and postmodernism comes from a past when people had access to a limited amount of information, so it was harder for them to question truth. Because of this, older generations often believed what they were told because they did not have access to information that would lead them to think otherwise. With the advent of technology, younger generations have become used to collecting information from a wide variety of sources, as have more-educated people. Even though much of the information collected may be inaccurate, it still makes younger generations question the validity of what others have told them. Instead, they want to discover truth for themselves. This desire to discover one’s own truth is the essence of postmodernism.

If church leaders want to reach the next generation, they are going to have to discover ways to help young people discover the truth of Christ for themselves. Young people are not going to just accept the pastor or priest's word on spiritual issues. Young people will delve deep into their own study of spirituality. Though this may frighten some church leaders, but many of us enjoy the discussions that arise from such deep study. For those church leaders able to embrace questions, the next generation will be a fertile harvest field for spirituality.

An excerpt from Terry Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway.

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