The SBJT Forum: Is There a Battle to Define God? -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 01:1 (Spring 1997)
Article: The SBJT Forum: Is There a Battle to Define God?
Author: Anonymous


The SBJT Forum:
Is There a Battle to Define God?

Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the Forum’s format. C. Ben Mitchell, D. A. Carson, Carl F. H. Henry, R. Douglas Geivett, and Craig Blaising have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. The journal’s goal for the Forum is to provide significant thinkers’ views on topics of interest without requiring lengthy articles from these heavily-committed individuals. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the Forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.

SBJT: Many adherents of new definitions of God consider themselves postmodernists. What is postmodernism and is it a healthy thing for the doctrine of God?

C. Ben Mitchell1 : Postmodernism has been around for some time and has had a variety of meanings. Most recently in philosophy and theology the term has come to describe the successor to modernity. That is to say, the age of the Enlightenment was the age of the Modern. The postmodern era represents a rejection of, or at least evolution away from, modernity. The modern age was characterized by the search for the Truth. For philosophers from Descartes to Kant to the logical positivists of this century, universal truth was the goal. Truth was something “out there.” Truth was objective.

Postmodernism does not accept the limitations of modernism. Whereas modernism seeks unity, order and the absolute, postmodernism finds paradox, indeterminacy and ambiguity. Whereas modernism is typically thought of as “either/or” thinking, postmodernism is “both/and” thinking. Whereas modernism sought to know the truth underlying “the story,” postmodernism is satisfied with the narrative itself and holds that there are many ways of world-making revealed in the story. There is no objective truth and, perhaps, no objective reality. So, postmodernism is very post-Enlightenment, post-Christian, and, well, post-modern.

You see this distinction played out on television’s mega-hit The X-Files. On the one hand, you have the epitome of the rational scientist in Dana Scully. Scully is interested in objectivity and verification—she performs autopsies, weighs, measures and observes. She is pursuing the truth. On the other hand, you have Fox Mulder who is open to other ways of seeing the world. He not only embraces the reality of life on other planets, but life in other dimensions. He is the postmodern man, unconvinced by his sense perception or the scientific method.

It also needs to be said that postmodernism is very pluralistic. Again, there is no one truth, no unifying theory, or ...

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