A Look at Postmodernism—Part 9

Before we dive into today’s topic, just a quick look ahead. On Monday we will begin the September CSFF Blog Tour. What a great opportunity this is for those readers less familiar with Christian science fiction or fantasy. (And if you hang out here much, you know how I love CSFF blog tours. What fun. This one looks like it’s shaping up to be another good one! 😉 )

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Who is God?

Interestingly, postmodernism opened up the discussion of religion, if not of God, or god. By way of saying, not all knowledge is empirical, the postmodernist ushered into the arena of philosophical debate the idea that spiritual reality exists beyond what a scientist can dissect.

Is this a positive gain? In my opinion, not really. Often times the most damaging error is the one that is hardest to detect. So in this case.

To explain the postmodern view of religion, Crystal Downing [How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith, IVP, 2006] uses an analogy of a group of people bound to a wheelchair facing different windows, each person able only to see what’s outside through the window in front of him.

[Postmodernists] attest that the people facing one set of windows see something different outside from the view of those facing the opposite direction … Religious truth seems relative to the place where the absolutist is situated.

Even the word absolute is situated, meaning different things to different people. In philosophy, absolute means “independent” or “free-standing” … Some evangelical intellects, however assert that we should not call God “the Absolute” … The word has been compromised by modernists, who replace God with numerous alternate definitions … While for Kant the Absolute was unknowable, Christian orthodoxy asserts that God became known through Christ. Hence, rather than “independent” or “freestanding,” God desires to be in relationship with humanity …

It is important to realize, then, that postmodernists do not prescribe something called “religious pluralism.” Postmodernists merely describe what they see: the world is filled with people who have conflicting vocabularies for absolute truth.”
– pp. 215-216

On my first read, I have to admit, I thought there might be more truth in these statements than I expected, but when I took a deeper look, I realized the error.

First there is no recognition of Truth and falsehood. Instead, as people are looking at the world, each has a differing perspective, but they are seeing the same thing—just a different aspect of it. (Reminds me of the poem about the blind men and the elephant—how each thought the elephant was something different than what it actually was because they were touching only a part: the leg, trunk, side, tail.)

From this perspective, a Christian is looking at God and calls Him … God, while a Muslim calls him Allah, a Buddhist, Buddha, a Jew Jehovah, and so forth. Either all are seeing the same thing and just using the word their culture constructed OR the are all seeing an aspect of God, an imperfect part of him.

This view is clearly contradicted by God in the Bible. God has revealed Himself. He wants us to know Him. And He is most definitely different than the gods of the nations. Thus the first of the Ten Commandments: You shall have no other gods before you. If these gods were just different names for Him, why this law?

Then, too, God IS absolute, no matter what twist a philosopher puts on the word. Yes, God desires relationship. But that does not negate the fact that He IS independent—freestanding, if you will. He does not need Mankind. We add nothing to Him with our belief, nor subtract from Him with our ignorance and doubt.

Granted, He is knowable only through Christ. Downing asserts that the way Christians can convince others to look out our window at our view of God is by being so different inside the room that others want to see what we see.

That certainly has merit, since Scripture says others will know we are Christians by how we love each other, but by itself, it has problems. It implies that what needs to change is a person’s situatedness. The other people in the room just need to move their chairs and look out our window. In other words, start using our language which will mold their percption.

That view ignores God’s transcendence. He can be seen by a 21st century Sudanese woman held in slavery or by a 20th century Belgian woman confined in a Nazi concentration camp. By an American teaching English in Japan or a mom serving as a MOPS coordinator in Southern California. God transcends our “situatedness” because He is transcendent.

He created this universe—He existed before it, exists apart from it, and will exist after it ends.

He sustains what He created. Without Him, there are no laws of nature, nothing is instinctive or reflexive, nothing evolving or inherited. Apart from Him, nothing stands.

At the same time, miraculously, He reveals Himself because He’s relational. He entered our world because He loves the creature He created. And just so we wouldn’t miss what it is He was doing, He wrote it all down.

Which takes us to the Bible. We’ll take a look at that when we return to this discussion.

Published in: on September 15, 2006 at 12:28 pm  Comments (3)  


  1. Cool. Amen, Sister.
    What is it about people who can’t see that truth by definition cannot have a series of meanings?


  2. Hey, Nicole. For some reason I’m having trouble posting a response to your comment.

    I’ll give it one more try.

    I’m guessing postmodernists would say they see a series of perceptions of truth, not a series of actual meanings.

    What troubles me with this is the logical conclusion—either Christianity’s perception of truth is partial at best or completely wrong at worst, or Truth is really unknowable and people are manufacturing what works to make them feel better.

    Apart from God revelation—natural and special—Truth is unknowable. But the fact is, God DID reveal Himself. Which brings us back to the Bible! Not a bad place to be. 😉



  3. […] Recently postmodern, emerging church-goers have brought a new set of criticisms. For a summary and my critique, see Rebutting Postmodern Thought. You may also be interested in A Look at Postmodernism—Part 10a and A Look at Postmodernism—Part 10b. Also relevant might be my critique of the postmodern view of God: A Look at Postmodernism—Part 9. […]


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