11.15.2006

Stuff I'm thinking about...

The following thoughts are exerpts from a speech given by JP Moreland called "Truth, Contemporary Philosophy and the Postmodern Turn"

-...if we are all trapped behind a framework such that simple, direct seeing is impossible, then no amount of recent thinking can help us see anything; all it could do would be to invite us to see something as such and such from within a conceptual framework. Given the self refuting nature of such claims, and given the fact that we all experience regularly the activity of comparing our conceptions of an entity with the entity itself as a way of adjusting those conceptions, it is hard to see why anyone, especially a Christian, would adopt the postmodern view. In any case, I have seldom seen the realist perspective seriously considered by postmodern thinkers, and until it is, statements like Grenz’ will be taken as mere mantras by many of us.

-For some time I have been convinced that postmodernism is rooted in pervasive confusions, and I have tried to point out what some of these are. I am also convinced that postmodernism is an irresponsible, cowardly abrogation of the duties that constitute a disciple’s calling to be a Christian intellectual and teacher.

-...postmodernism is a form of intellectual pacifism that, at the end of the day, recommends backgammon while the barbarians are at the gate. It is the easy, cowardly way out that removes the pressure to engage alternative conceptual schemes, to be different, to risk ridicule, to take a stand outside the gate. But it is precisely as disciples of Christ, even more, as officers in His army, that the pacifist way out is simply not an option. However comforting it may be, postmodernism is the cure that kills the patient, the military strategy that concedes defeat before the first shot is fired, the ideology that undermines its own claims to allegiance. And it is an immoral, coward’s way out that is not worthy of a movement born out of the martyrs’ blood.

From what I can see, Moreland is a pretty smart guy...he agrees with me on some other things, so maybe he is right about this too.

I need to kick these ideas around for a while, I'm sure I will get back to you.

Keep the rubber side down.

cm

3 comments:

Laurel-Anne said...

I enjoyed that article, thanks. This paragraph stood out to me...

"As humans, we live and ought to live our lives not merely by truth, but by knowledge of truth. Knowledge of truth gives us confident trust and access to reality. Moreover, as those called to be teachers and scholars for the church and, indeed, for the unbelieving world, we are called not only to impart and defend truth, but to impart and defend knowledge of truth and, even more, to impart and defend knowledge of truth as knowledge of truth. This entails that we must impart and defend the notion that we do, in fact, have knowledge of important spiritual and ethical truths. Among other things, this gives confidence in truth and knowledge to those we serve. Thus, we are irresponsible not simply if we fail to achieve knowledge of reality; we are doubly irresponsible if we fail to impart to others knowledge as knowledge. The corrosive affects of postmodernism eat away at the fulfillment of these duties and responsibilities that constitute our calling from Almighty God."

Vertigo said...

I considered posting that one as well but obviously decided not to.

What really struck me is the first paragraph that I posted about conceptual frameworks.

Leonard Sweet was the author who introduced me to the idea that the gospel (in the form of propositions about God, sin and redemption) is always culturally mediated. This paragraph seems to blow that idea straight to hell, maybe literally.

I suppose there is a genuine difference between postmodernism as a philosophy that denies the correspondence model of truth and the changes in how our culture `is` (how we go about our lives, how we learn etc). The cultural changes do not necessarily entail the denial of correspondent truth...I think.

It is important to get this right because if Christianity were to move towards embracing philosophical postmodernism, then we would not have Christianity because Christianity depends upon certain things being true (ie. the assertions in the Bible actually correspond to how things actually are.)

Laurel-Anne said...

The word that keeps coming to mind when I think about this post and philosophical postmodernism is agnosticism, and it seems like it is one thing to recognize it in our culture and be prepared to address it, and something completely different to embrace it.

I am of the opinion that if postmodernism is as widespread as some believe, or if it takes hold in a big way, either some will embrace it and others will reject it, or most will embrace it and some will find it wanting. Those who ultimately reject it will perhaps be looking for truth and we need to be ready to show it to them. The Church needs to boldly proclaim truth, and then people will have somewhere to turn when they are tired of relativity. The cultural changes are maybe not dangerous in themselves but to me they look to be closely intertwined with agnostic philosophy, and I think that the Church should not be afraid to be at odds with culture as long as it does so intentionally. As a result of postmodernism we need to re-examine what we claim as truth and reject long held traditions that have nothing to do with Truth, and in doing so, what really is true will
(struggling for words here) shine forth... be strengthened... come to light... shine all the brighter...
At the risk of "prooftexting", Jesus' words from Jn 8:32 keep coming to mind: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (NIV)