Post-Evangelicalism Confronts The Postmodern Age A Review of The Challenge of Postmodernism -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 09:1 (Spring 1996)
Article: Post-Evangelicalism Confronts The Postmodern Age A Review of The Challenge of Postmodernism
Author: Zane C. Hodges


Post-Evangelicalism Confronts The Postmodern Age
A Review of The Challenge of Postmodernism

Zane C. Hodges

Associate Editor
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Mesquite, Texas

In the cloistered halls of academia one of the newer buzz words is postmodernism. Postmodernism expresses the widely held view that modernity has somehow come to an end and that we have entered the postmodern age. Obviously there is a kind of pretentiousness to this perspective, but perhaps after all this concept is true.

That is certainly the opinion of most of the contributors to the volume entitled, The Challenge of Postmodernism: An Evangelical Engagement, ed. David S. Dockery (Wheaton, IL, BridgePoint, the academic imprint of Victor Books, 1995). Here in a collection of no less than 23 different essays, stretching over 400 pages, a variety of writers from a variety of schools assess what postmodernism means for the evangelical community.

In the process of evaluating the present and future impact of postmodern ideas, the writers also open an unintended window on the state of evangelical thought in America today. The view afforded by this window is far from reassuring. Thus in this review article we will not only talk about postmodernism but also about what could be described as post-evangelicalism.

I. What Is Postmodernism?

Many readers of this journal have probably already heard of postmodernism. I met the concept recently in an editorial in a major newspaper. It has become one of those floating terms in the language which are recognizable but still somewhat vague in meaning. The writers in this book for the most part are fairly well agreed as to its specific significance.

According to these writers postmodernism indicates the end of the modern period, which began with the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century and extended into the latter half of the twentieth century, by some reckonings into the 1980s. In the first of his two essays, Thomas C. Oden of Drew University makes this definite statement:

By postmodern, we mean the course of actual history following the death of modernity. By modernity we mean the period, the ideology, and the malaise of the time from 1789 to 1989, from the Bastille to the Berlin Wall.1

By this timeframe, the postmodern era has barely begun. We might well ask whether it is not a bit heady to announce the dawn of a new age within its first decade!

Most of the contributors to this volume would agree with the assessment expressed by Dav...

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