Postmodernism's Challenge to Theology
Postmodernism is a term that is not easily defined and seems to be a moving target that is constantly changing. Brittanica defines postmodernism as, “characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power” (“Postmodernism”). One thing we know for sure about postmodernism is that it presents Christian theology with many challenges. This is not to say that true Christian theology has somehow failed modern society, however, postmodernism has created challenges based on how people approach the truths taught in Scripture and has in turn, led many people astray.
Many postmodern thinkers believe that the way we view the bible changes over time and it is not the true, authoritative, sufficient and inerrant Word of God. Postmodernists deny the belief in objective truth and many would go as far to say that there is no such thing as absolute truth. They believe that everything is relative to the individual and a particular culture and in doing so, deny reason and logic. “Postmodernists seek to disparage meta-narratives, deconstruct truth into language games, and render spirituality as a mixture of subjectively compelling elements” (“The Postmodernist Challenge to Theology”). These ideas have caused the rise of what is known today as Progressive Christianity. According to their website, progressive Christianity is defined as, “an open, intelligent and collaborative approach to the Christian tradition and the life and teachings of Jesus that create pathways into an authentic and relevant religious experience.” Progressive Christians want the benefits of Christianity, such as going to heaven, but they do not want to submit to God’s authority and word. In other words, they desire God’s love but deny His wrath and justice. They wouldn’t say that Jesus is the way to be reconciled to God but is one of the ways. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). If we believe Jesus is who he said He was, we must take His word for truth. The twisting of Scripture, lack of submission to Scripture, and the denying of Christ’s deity by progressive christians is a cause for major concern. This is a major reason why an accurate study of theology is of major importance today.
The Christian Response
The study of theology is a massive and critical tactic in combating against the many false teachings and theologies that we see in today’s world. If we truly care about what the Scriptures say about who God is and what implications that truth has on our lives, we should care about the study of theology. “There is no reason for theology to alter or adjust this definition of truth when it comes to Scripture as God’s revelation or with respect to the formulations of theological systems. Scripture presents God’s truth as objective, absolute, universal, eternal, antithetical, and systemic. In light of this, theology should affirm that the entire content of the Bible is true. Since Scripture is God’s word, every claim made in Scripture is factually accurate” (“The Postmodernist Challenge to Theology”).
If we do not know what we believe and why we believe it, we can easily be misled into the false teachings that the postmodern movement has created. Paul wrote, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame (1 Peter 3:15-16). The studying of theology allows us to better equip ourselves to give the defense that Paul speaks of. The teachings of Progressive Christians and postmodern thinkers are compelling and sound great on the surface, but we must ask this question: Are these teachings truly in alignment with the teachings of God’s Word? It doesn’t take long as we look into the Bible to see that these ideas do not line up with what the Scriptures teach. The study of theology in a systematic way is vital not only for leaders and pastors but for all who are seeking truth.
“Postmodernism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/postmodernism-philosophy. Accessed 26 Aug. 2021.
“The Postmodernist Challenge to Theology - The Gospel Coalition.” The Gospel Coalition, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/the-postmodernist-challenge-to-theology/. Accessed 26 Aug. 2021.
I think if you look at God in the context of who he is from the start, and his heart over the duration of scripture, you see a holistic loving God that does not change with the times. I think the biggest part of where people get it wrong is that they don’t keep reading. We are so apt to instant gratification and the worth of face value. God is not a face value God, he is a keep reading and see how you are transformed God. Great article.
You are right on target Hunter, keep up your good work. The answer is read your bible every day.