Connecting In General: What Is Truth In A Post-Metaphysical World? -- By: James Whelchel

Journal: Journal of Christian Apologetics
Volume: JCA 02:1 (Summer 1998)
Article: Connecting In General: What Is Truth In A Post-Metaphysical World?
Author: James Whelchel


Connecting In General:
What Is Truth In A Post-Metaphysical World?

James Whelchel*

Introduction

General Revelation is a rather unique topic for evangelicals who traditionally have held a rather low view of knowledge gained apart from special revelation in Scripture. The sola in Sola Scriptura is fairly menacing to any other perspective, and sets us at odds with traditions which view the wisdom gained from other fields of study with greater regard.

Yet upon reflection we would probably agree that virtually all theologizing is molded, in formulation if not in substance, by nothing less than the philosophical systems we have inherited from beyond the bounds of Scripture. This is not news in itself, but brings one face to face with one of the most challenging features of exercising the theologians craft at the end of the twentieth century: the fact that the dominant paradigm of philosophy, which many of us have grown to work well within, if not uncritically adhere to, is being replaced by something new and unfamiliar, that nebulous web of ideas called rather imprecisely “Postmodernism.”

Several hundred years ago, during the emergence of the scientific, critical thinking of the Enlightenment, many Christians reacted vigorously in opposition to what was then perceived as a threat to the integrity of the biblical faith. At least to a certain extent, this was a reaction against the overthrow of scholasticism and the naive realism that characterized it as a philosophical system. Gradually, and not without a struggle, the evangelical community came to grips with the need to enter into conversation with this new mindset without capitulating to its excesses. We learned to frame our theological discourse in terms familiar to the dominant paradigm. In time that paradigm became so fully embedded in the fabric of both western society in general and evangelical discourse in particular that today many of us have difficulty differentiating the framework from the substance of our theology.

Today we face a paradigm shift. Predictably, we are a bit tenuous in our response. Is postmodernism a heresy which is superseding a philosophical framework more sympathetic to the biblical worldview? Or is

* James Whelchel teaches at the International School of Theology in the Philippines.

it simply a new framework, neither biblical nor diabolical, into which we must translate our theology to make ourselves heard in the present milieu?

To a great extent, the resolution of these questions should involve a serious consideration of the actual character of postmodern theory. For instance, an evangelical in the e...

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