A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

D.Min. Discussion #1

Yesterday I began teaching a Doctor of Ministry class at the seminary, "Theology and Ministry in a Postmodern World." The time of discussion has been wonderful, with many insightful observations from everyone in the class.

Three topics specifically emerged: 1) Recognizing that there are many differences between modernism and postmodernism (that postmodernism is a reaction against modernism), in what ways do modernists and postmodernists drink from the same well? (e.g. assuming that universal truths must transcend the particulars of history and culture). 2) The postmodern context allows for substantive discussion and debate between differing religious narratives. It takes the particulars seriously instead of discarding them in favor of a nonexistent, history transcending metanarrative. 3) It is possible to embrace postmodernism and at the same time affirm the Grand Story, "Jesus is Lord."

One of the more fruitful parts of our discussion has been on the postmodern nature of the Book of Acts. In particular Acts 17:16-34, Paul's speech before the Areopagus in Athens, has been highlighted as a prime example of a postmodern approach to evangelism.

The discussion tomorrow morning will specifically focus on the question "Is postmodernism better characterized as post or ultramodernism?


Clemens said...

'It is possible to embrace postmodernism and at the same time affirm the Grand Story, "Jesus is Lord."'

I am not sure about this. I would have to be convinced that postmodernism actually stands for something. If it does, I would think that anyone could affirm any Grand Story they wanted. Which I don't think is quite what you have in mind.

A lot depends on what model of 'postmodernism' you are using. Can you share it with us? I myself merely get confused when trying to deal with it.

Clemens said...
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Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your insight.

At the heart of what I mean is that it is possible to accept the postmodern notion that all truth claims are context dependent and at the same time affirm the context dependent and universal truth claim that Jesus is Lord.

Modernism and postmodernism alike(I am generalizing here)argue that universal truth must be ahistorical and must transcend all particular contexts. Modernism believes such truth, such a Grand Story, is exists. Postmodernism either denies this possibility or insists we cannot know if there is universal truth, since it is impossible to get out of our own particular narratives.

What I am suggesting is that it is not a contradiction to affirm the postmodern claim that we are all intrinsically bound to our own particular narratives and yet believe in a Grand Story. The Grand Story "Jesus is Lord" is context dependent and a universal claim at the same time.

There are certainly many other "Grand Stories" that are believed; the question is, which "Grand Story" best makes sense of the world?

Clemens said...

Ah, that makes sense. Although for a true Believer in any Grand Story but particularly an Abrahamic monotheist accepting the postmodern take would be a problem, surely.