Thursday, April 26, 2012

Understanding Postmodernism

Though the term postmodernism was first used in the 1870s, it was not widely used until the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. People who hold to postmodernism do not like to be classified, and therefore it is unlikely they will use the term to refer to themselves. But since there are now so many postmodernists in our culture, we should all have a working understanding of their worldview.

Postmodernism is the idea that individuals have both the intelligence and the right to decide for themselves what truth is. In the past, truth was a clearly defined fact that was generally accepted by each generation. Postmodern individuals see the definition of truth as less clear. As postmodern people search for truth, they base their conclusions on their own research, individual experiences, and personal relationships instead of on the truth accepted by their parents, government, or church. This does not mean postmodernists do not believe in truth; it just means they define truth for themselves.

Postmodern people are quite comfortable with the concept that dierent people will come to dierent conclusions about the same subject and all of them have discovered the truth, even if such truths contradict each other. For most postmodern people, the concept of absolute truth does not exist. It has been replaced with a more personalized sense of truth that may vary from person to person.

It can be dicult to describe how postmodern people think because they do not like to be categorized. However, careful observation of their behaviors, combined with listening to what young people say and write, oer a glimpse of postmodernists’ common characteristics. Dr. Earl Creps is the director of the doctor of ministry program at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. He writes extensively on postmodernism. He has discovered:

The average person influenced by postmodernism may never have heard a lecture or read a book about it. Nonetheless, the traits that embody the philosophy are all around us: the centrality of community, the primacy of experience, the subjectivity of truth, the complexity of human perception, the fragility of progress, the unreality of absolutes, the enormity of the spiritual [and] the plurality of worldviews.

Other writers have compiled similar lists of postmodern traits that frequently appear in the next generation. If churches wish to eectively engage postmodern people with the gospel, they will have to deal with these common traits.

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

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the clearer descriptions of postmodernism that I have read. thanks.