The Southern Baptist Mind in the Postmodern Era -- By: Don W. Buckley

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 13:2 (Spring 1996)
Article: The Southern Baptist Mind in the Postmodern Era
Author: Don W. Buckley

The Southern Baptist Mind in the Postmodern Era

Don W. Buckley

Department of Family Medicine
Spanish Trail Family Medical Center
4601 Spanish Trail
Pensacola, FL 32504

A recent article in the SBC quarterly Light perceptively decries the fact that as the third millennium approaches, we find ourselves living in an increasingly pagan society.1 The ruling elites of the contemporary culture as well as large numbers of the common populace today are woefully ignorant of the truth claims of orthodox Christianity. It is becoming painfully obvious that the Christian worldview which profoundly shaped the past two millennia of Western history has been all but eclipsed by the current regnant follies of pluralism, ethical relativism, and political pragmatism. Alistair MacIntyre, the eminent Oxford moral philosopher, notes in his monumental work After Virtue that “the barbarians are [no longer] waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament.”2

Before we Christians cower beneath this surging secular juggernaut, we should realize that the whole of Western society now curiously finds itself in a chaotic transitional period. We are currently moving from the Era of Modernity, which was born of the 18th-century Enlightenment, into a most unsettled era, that for lack of a better term, has been simply labeled “Postmodern.” Modernists were intoxicated with the potential of human ability aided only by the use of reason, social engineering, and the scientific method to effect societal advancement. Such utopian hubris has all but been abandoned by the contemporary Academy, and a host of alternatives have been proposed in such areas as philosophy, moral theory, literature, and the arts.

Current postmodern alternatives such as the deconstructionist theories of Derrida and Foucault are equally unappealing to the Christian, however, because of their utter contempt for absolute truth claims and their destruction of the textual wisdom of Western civilization through the vicious application of a “hermeneutic of suspicion.” Such deconstructionist skepticism will not long abide on the current intellectual landscape. The evangelical theologian Thomas Oden sums it up well when he writes, “Deconstructionism has about it the smell of death. It will not last more than

a decade .... Jews and Christians have been through these fits of skepticism many times before.”3

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