Postmodern Christianity?

If you’re looking for a single resource that discusses various Christian responses to postmodern thought, this is the book you should read. It’s one of those “six views” collections with articles from two scholars who reject postmodernism as hazardous to faith, three who embrace postmodern thinking and seek to “revision” Christianity in postmodern terms, and one who adopts what he calls a posture of “dispute.”

This last approach, the one I find most appealing, comes from Kevin Vanhoozer, and his essay alone is worth the price of the book. While many (perhaps most) evangelicals are not taking postmodernism seriously enough and some are taking it way too seriously, Vanhoozer is at just the right level of not taking it seriously. Here’s a sample:

Why do I prefer a disputational rather than a conversational model of dialogue? Dispute better captures the seriousness of the encounter; something important is at stake in this discussion. Dispute also suggests that I am contending for my position, not simply sharing it. Better: I am contending for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). Finally, “disputation” has the merit of being a venerable genre of theology, dating from the medieval period. Part of my purpose in the present essay, however, is to revise the notion of disputation so that the focus is on a whole person witness to concrete Christian wisdom rather than a wholly intellectual demonstration of an abstract truth. On this latter point—the necessity of going beyond analysis—I do not dispute with postmodernity but say “amen.” To dispute with postmodernity is also to engage it. Christian thinkers cannot go around postmodernity; we have to go through it.

You seminary students should go to the library and make yourself a copy of this article entitled, “Pilgrim’s Digress: Christian Thinking on and about the Post/Modern Way.” There’s a lot of wisdom here for Christians who want to outgrow the individualistic, rationalistic, anti-ecclesial faith of 20th century evangelicalism without becoming stupid.


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