To Learn From Postmodernity…

In chapter three of D. A. Carson’s The Gagging of God he takes some time to note the strengths of postmodernity, the new hermeneutic, and deconstruction. On the one hand, Christians who want to be faithful to the historic faith and truth of God’s Word do not follow postmodernity, the new hermeneutic, and deconstructionism; however, it isn’t a bad thing to at least acknowledge the good parts of these movements (even if they may now be passing). Here are Carson’s theses; he does explain them in more depth, of course, so you’ll have to get the book to read on!

  1. While we deplore certain follies in postmodernity, it is vital to acknowledge a number of strengths.
  2. Practical experience with the way people actually communicate confirms that accurate communication is possible.
  3. The arguments of too many scholars turn on individualistic definitions and doubtful steps of logic that do not withstand close inspection.
  4. Many deconstructionists slant the debate by appealing to indefensible antitheses.
  5. Models from the hard sciences are of some, but limited, use. It is important to understand why this should be so.
  6. There are some models of approaching texts that glean the best from the new hermeneutic, but do not destroy all possibility of objective truth.
  7. Clearly the interpretive community, the nurturing community, the community of faith plays an important role in an individual’s understanding, but it is not necessarily a determinative or decisive role.
  8. From a Christian perspective, an omniscient God who accommodates himself to talk in human languages introduces several new and important elements.
  9. Postmodernism as a whole is characterized by astonishing hubris, by a focus on the self that is awesomely God-defying.
  10. Not a little postmodernism borders on the incoherent and is in fact more than a little sad.

Carson ends the chapter by saying that his aim was “to recognize, within a Christian framework, certain truths in postmodernity, without getting snookered by the entire package” (p. 136).

You can find this entire discussion in, The Gagging of God, chapter three.

Shane Lems

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