A Christian Worldview: Postmodernism | Truth & Tidings (2023)

What’s true for you may not be true for me,” encapsulates the postmodern idiom fairly well. Despite its recent origin, postmodernism currently dominates western 21st century media, academia, politics, and much of “the church.” Statistics reveal that a majority of young people in the West hold to the following: “There is no such thing as absolute truth.” A thing may be cool, OK, or workable, but to say it is true implies something else is false, a judgment call that assumes a hierarchy of correctness – perish the thought. How did we get here?

With almost no exceptions, up until the 19th century everyone held to the “correspondence theory” of truth. That is, when a thought or statement properly represents reality – what is real – it is true. Truth may be discovered by man­kind, but it is never created. Nor is anything made true by its acceptance. Some things are always true, for all people, in all places, whether anyone cares to believe or not. So, how was this ancient axiom overthrown?

The history of the last 2000 years can be divided into three periods: The pre­-modern world (up to the 17th century), the modern world (17th to late 20th century) and the postmodern world (late 20th century onwards). With notable exceptions, those living in the pre-modern world (whether “Christian” or “pagan”) generally accepted the existence of the supernatural. Pre-modern society acknowledged a spiritual hierarchy. It was a given that God (or the gods) ruled over creation, and from the king down, authority was to be obeyed without question. Status was de­fined by position (ruler, head of family, etc.). Traditions reigned supreme. People did as they were told, just as their parents had before them. No one felt they were autonomous; all were “dependent on God.” Things were “true” because tradition, holy books, and those in authority said so.

The Renaissance (14th-17th c.) and the Enlightenment or Age of Rea­son (17th-19th c.) changed all that. The humanistic philosophy that flour­ished during these periods changed the reigning paradigm from a world perceived to center around God to one centered around man. Reason replaced dogma and tradi­tion. Human values replaced religious values. Individualism and free thinking were encouraged. Status was defined by achievement. God was dead – or, at least, if He existed at all, was redundant. With superstition, miracles and a supernatural God removed from the public mind, all the world’s problems began to seem explic­able and solvable by reason and science. After all, humanity was not sinful, just ignorant. Optimism filled the air. “Moderns” rejected disciplines such as theology, metaphysics, morality, and aesthetics. Materialism meant that only the observable and empirically verifiable were real. “God,” “love,” and “justice” could not be tested in a laboratory and were therefore meaningless. (This idea, called logical positivism, was itself a meta­physical theory, and was therefore, by its own definition, meaningless).

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Cracks began to appear in modernism with the dawning of the Romantic era (1775-1850) which encouraged subjectivity and personal experience. Building on David Hume’s ideas about the limitations of observation by sense alone, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) popularized the belief that knowledge is ulti­mately a matter of interpretation. He reasoned that we cannot with any certainty know that our minds are correctly mirroring reality. Kant said, “You kant know.” Agnosticism became fashionable. The ship of reason was holed below the waterline. This laid the foundation for existentialism. If reality was a matter of subjective inter­pretation, truth and morality were relative, not absolute. Existentialists choose their own way; life has no objective meaning.

Existential philosophers like Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and others, proposed that the most important questions in life were not explainable by science. Science, contrary to public perception, is not a pure discipline where scientists with pure motives search for pure truth. Karl Marx (1818-1883) claimed a person’s thinking was influenced and shaped by economic structures; Frie­drich Nietzsche by the desire to wield power (truth claims are mere power plays); Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) by unconscious sexually oriented drives. With all of this psychological baggage in the mind, how could a person ever state with any certainty what reality really is? Facts are “theory-laden” and true objectivity is impossible. “There are no facts, only interpretations,” said Nietzsche. The door to postmodernism had been opened.

Cause of Postmodernism

By the 1960s, a generation of young people had begun to question the results of reason and science, with their cold technology, pollution, weapons of mass destruction, and socially intrusive control. The optimism of the mod­ernistic worldview had been shattered by two World Wars, the Holocaust, and Vietnam. There was a hunger for the spiri­tual. A desire to be free from any kind of intellectual demand or moral restraint led to experimentation with drugs, mysticism, and the occult. Two centuries of reason had blown away any persuasive foundation for morals. When Nietzsche pronounced the death of God in Thus Spake Zarathustra, the inevitable happened. Society’s taboos gave way. All that remained taboo was taboo itself. In came the sexual revolution, aided by medical advances. Homosexuality and abortion were legalized. The press was uncensored, leading to an explosion in pornography. Divorce became easier. The gods of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll rushed in to fill the vacuum, and the rest is history. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).

Concept of Postmodernism

In a short article like this, it is impossible to adequately give expression to the diverse and detailed characteristics of postmodernism as taught by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Jacques Derrida (1930-1904) and Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996). However, postmodernism is a reinterpretation of what knowledge is and of what counts as knowl­edge. According to postmodernism, there is no such thing as absolute truth. Reality, rather than being something that exists independent of the language or theories anyone may use to describe it, is something constructed or made up by society. Language creates reality, but since language changes and word meanings vary, what is “real” for one group of people may be “unreal” for another. Not only is all thought merely socially and historically conditioned, but even the very laws of logic are “Western constructs” which must not be taken as universally valid, and certainly cannot be imposed on people of other cultures.

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What is true and false, right and wrong and good and bad, are not omnipresent realities but social constructs that may change from culture to culture. Postmodernism also rejects the idea of an “authorial text.” For example, the meaning of the gospel of John is not deter­mined by John. Indeed it has no fixed meaning. The reader may choose what meaning to put on it.

Postmodernism not only dethroned human reason, it rejected human value. Human beings are no longer to be thought of as the “center of everything.” Instead of building on a foundation of God, rationalism or willpower, postmodernism simply says there is no foundation. While existentialism left one free to choose one’s own meaning, postmodernism says no one is free (all are imprisoned by society’s language) and there is no meaning.

Consequences of Postmodernism

In a perceptive internet article, Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias explains: “Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault may well be the definitive bookends of this twentieth century. Both brilliant yet tragic figures … Michel Foucault … was a leading French intellectual who by virtue of a very promiscuous life, died of AIDS at the age of 58. He was a lover of Nietzsche’s writings, who ironically had died at 54, in the wake of his pitiful bout with venereal disease and insanity.” In postmod­ernism, man senses no personal need to live a righteous life. After all, what is righteousness? He has no sins. He simply lives his life the way that works for him. Postmodern cul­ture is omni-tolerant and anti-judgmental.

Even in today’s evangelical culture, preachers rarely say anything negative. Congregations don’t want to hear about anything they can’t enjoy. Sa­tan facilitates their depraved desires by serving up a diet of “spirituality” and pop psychology, even while deceiving them into what they were never warned about – hell. In schools, wrong an­swers marked with a cross are a put-down. Postmodern art, films, plays, music, and architecture no longer feel the need to exhibit objective meaning corresponding to reality.

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Status for postmodern man is now defined by style (the right clothes, the right music etc.). Wall to wall 24/7 exposure to the visual media (social media, TV, internet, computer games) blurs the distinction between truth and entertainment. Image takes precedence over substance in many areas of life, especially poli­tics. Even in “the church,” what works, rather than what is right and Scriptural, carries the day, in an attempt to boost numbers. Preaching that involves linear thinking, cerebral arguments, and theological terminology is boring. Postmodern churchgoers want to experience the supernatural and feel the music – not learn and study truth. Evangelistic courses that discuss Christian­ity in groups ably suit the postmodernist mindset. A one-way conversation from a pulpit is far too hierarchical. Worship services have changed to make them more emotional and entertaining, perfectly reflecting the “style over substance” postmodern paradigm. Salvation by “making a decision” also corresponds well to postmodernism’s “choose your own destiny” mentality. The fact that true salvation is dependent on God, Who supernaturally draws a sinner to Christ by conviction of sin and repentance, is foreign to the new thinking (John 6:44, 16:8).

As the apostasy in Christendom grows ever wider, 21st century evangelical Christianity increasingly resonates with postmodern concepts. The following trends are widespread: the minimization of absolutes, the rejection of didactic preaching, the belief that the unevangelized can be saved without the gospel, the acceptance of homosexuality, the teaching that God loves us because we are worth it, that sin is merely a loss of self-esteem, etc. True Biblical evangelicalism is all but dead.

Contradictions of Postmodernism

If postmodernism boasts a mantra, it would have to be, “There is no such thing as absolute truth,” a statement that collapses under its own self-contradictory weight. “There is no absolute truth” is a statement of abso­lute truth! Again, relativism is either true or false. If true, that is the same as saying, “it is an objective truth that there is no objective truth.” If false, the game is up. Again, postmodernism is pluralistic. It says that no one view is uniquely correct. But if no single view is correct, is pluralism correct? Again, postmodernists claim to have a neutral perspective and to be able to take a detached bird’s eye view of all other views, while condemning all other views as biased constructs. Again, postmodernism does not believe in worldviews (what it calls meta-narratives), but since it has a theory about life’s meaning, truth and morals, it qualifies as a worldview itself. That makes it a worldview that challenges the validity of worldviews!

They expect us to take their authorial intent to heart, while denying the authorial validity of other texts. They use language carefully, expecting us to catch the essence of what they are saying, while simultaneously denying that language has universal weight. They outline the dichotomy between modernism and postmodernism, claiming that the latter is superior, while rejecting any such hierarchy of ideas exists. As a theory, postmodernism was a provocative idea; as a workable model for life, it is useless. C. S. Lewis pointed out that those who deny the existence of an absolute moral law still become upset when you take their seat on a bus.


The Cure for Postmodernism

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells Christians to destroy arguments that rise up against the knowledge of God. This will be impossible unless, like Paul, they understand at least a little of “where the world is at” and begin to interact with unbelievers in ways they can understand (Acts 17:22-31). Christians must realize that society has rejected the notion of truth. Its objec­tions to the gospel have done a complete somersault. Back in the modern era (17th-20th c.) the secular world ar­gued that Christianity was not true. They denied it. However, in the postmodern era (post-1990) the secular world objects to Christi­anity, not because it is wrong, but because it dares to claim to be the only truth.

The Christian must continue to press the exclusive claim of the gospel which has been revealed in the Bible in precise, meaningful language (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1Tim 2:5). Biblical truth is absolute, objective, knowable, and eternal. Christianity must be expounded as a worldview that is true for everyone, whether they believe it or not. Status, for a Christian, exists in being “in Christ.” Postmodernism, filled as it is with dozens of ludicrous contradictions and fatal flaws, must be exposed as a fraud and resisted at every point of entry. Gospel preaching aimed at the conscience of guilty 21st century man, awakening him to the reality of the righteous wrath of a sin-hating God, is still the God-ordained way.

As we wit­ness to the uniqueness of Christ and the Bible, let us pray that God will bring conviction and repentance to those hopelessly lost in postmodernism and every other false philosophy of man. Let us also learn the lessons of history. As in ancient Rome, because they claimed to possess unique truth, Christians became public enemy number one, and persecution followed. It may yet manifest itself again on a wide scale in our own Western society.


What are the main points of a Christian worldview? ›

A biblical worldview (or a Christian worldview) is a worldview based on God's unchanging Word. Since God is the Creator of everything in heaven and earth, He is the standard for truth. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchanging. The Bible contains the words of God, and God is Truth.

What is postmodernism in the church? ›

Postmodern theology, also known as the continental philosophy of religion, is a philosophical and theological movement that interprets theology in light of post-Heideggerian continental philosophy, including phenomenology, post-structuralism, and deconstruction.

What do modernist Christians believe? ›

Modernist theologians approved of radical biblical criticism and were willing to question traditional Christian doctrines, especially Christology. They also emphasized the ethical aspects of Christianity over its theological ones.

What is the Christian concept of incarnation? ›

Incarnation, central Christian doctrine that God became flesh, that God assumed a human nature and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second person of the Trinity.

What are the 4 elements of worldview? ›

An overview of the four worldviews
Traditional worldviewModern worldview
Social selfIndependent self
Traditional values (ie., solidarity, security, discipline, service, faith, conformity)Individualistic values (ie., achievement, hedonism, succes, status, power, fun)
4 more rows

What are the 3 worldviews? ›

Terms in this set (3)
  • Naturalism. nothing exist other than the physical universe.
  • Theism. God is the source of everything that exist, but is different form creation.
  • Pantheism. Everything that exist IS God. ( oneness) (inner peace/harnessing peace w/ the universe)

How does postmodernism view Christianity? ›

In postmodernism, all religion, including Christianity, is reduced to the level of opinion. Christianity asserts that it is unique and that it does matter what we believe. Sin exists, sin has consequences, and anyone ignoring those truths has to face those consequences, Christians say.

What is the postmodernist view of God? ›

Postmodern religion considers that there are no universal religious truths or laws. Rather, reality is shaped by social, historical, and cultural contexts according to the individual, place, and/or time.

What are the three key principles of postmodernism? ›

postmodernism, also spelled post-modernism, in Western philosophy, a late 20th-century movement 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.

What are the 3 characteristics of modernism? ›

The Main Characteristics of Modernist Literature
  • Individualism. In Modernist literature, the individual is more interesting than society. ...
  • Experimentation. Modernist writers broke free of old forms and techniques. ...
  • Absurdity. The carnage of two World Wars profoundly affected writers of the period. ...
  • Symbolism. ...
  • Formalism.

What is the difference between modern and traditional Christianity? ›

In our rapidly changing world with instant access to news stories, cultural trends and popular entertainment “connected” individuals seek untraditional ways to worship and express their faith. Modern churches are more focused on community, world affairs and a more entertaining style of delivering the word of God.

What is the worldview of modernism? ›

According to the modern worldview (modernism), reality, knowledge, and morality are founded in science, human reasoning, and objective evidence. Faith in God along with other beliefs and values are entirely personal and subjective and, therefore, has no place in the realm of objective truth (Pearcey, 2004).

What are the 4 reasons for incarnation? ›

  • reason 1. to save us by reconciling us with God.
  • reason 2. to reveal God's love to us.
  • reason 3. to show us a perfect model of holiness.
  • reason 4. to make us "partakers of the divine nature"(2 Peter 1:4)-in other words to "divinize" us.

What are 3 reasons for the incarnation? ›

  • What are the reasons for incarnation? ...
  • To Reconcile Us with God through the Forgiveness of Sins. ...
  • That We Might Know the Depth of God's Love. ...
  • To Be Our Model of Holiness. ...
  • To Make Us Partakers of the Divine Nature. ...
  • To Destroy the Power of the Devil.

Why is incarnation so important for Christians? ›

The incarnation is the Christian belief that God took human form by becoming Jesus. Incarnation literally means 'to take on flesh'. For Christians, the incarnation shows that Jesus was fully God and fully human. It is an essential part of belief in the Trinity , and in many ways it forms the basis of Christianity.

What are 3 things that influence peoples worldview? ›

Worldviews, and therefore our cultural identities, reflect multiple factors. Ideology, race, ethnicity, language, gender, age, religion, history, politics, social class, and economic status influence how we perceive the place where we live and other parts of the world.

What are the 5 types of worldview? ›

Worldview is used very differently by linguists and sociologists. It is for this reason that James W. Underhill suggests five subcategories: world-perceiving, world-conceiving, cultural mindset, personal world, and perspective.

What are the 7 worldview questions? ›

Sire identifies the following as the seven basic questions a worldview tries to answer:
  • What is prime reality? ...
  • What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
  • What is a human being?
  • What happens to a person at death?
  • Why is it possible to know anything at all?
8 Jan 1998

What is worldview simple words? ›

A worldview is a collection of attitudes, values, stories and expectations about the world around us, which inform our every thought and action. Worldview is expressed in ethics, religion, philosophy, scientific beliefs and so on (Sire, 2004).

What is my worldview example? ›

There are many different aspects of a person that contribute to our personal worldview. For example, our family values, expectations of education,age, race, and gender roles.

What is the simplest definition of worldview? ›

Definition of worldview

: a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint.

What is the main concept of postmodernism? ›

Definition. Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse which challenges worldviews associated with Enlightenment rationality dating back to the 17th century. Postmodernism is associated with relativism and a focus on ideology in the maintenance of economic and political power.

What is the purpose of postmodernism? ›

As a philosophy, postmodernism rejects concepts of rationality, objectivity, and universal truth. Instead, it emphasizes the diversity of human experience and multiplicity of perspectives.

What is the postmodernism theory simple? ›

Postmodernism says that there is no real truth. It says that knowledge is always made or invented and not discovered. Because knowledge is made by people, a person cannot know something for sure - all ideas and facts are 'believed' instead of 'known'.

Does postmodernism believe in religion? ›

In a postmodern world there are no universal religious or ethical laws, everything is shaped by the cultural context of a particular time and place and community.

What is an example of postmodernist? ›

The clearest example would be the death bunny scene where a rabbit slaughters men. Intentional or not, these works of art belong on the Postmodern film list because they subverted expectations and gave audiences something they couldn't have anticipated long before that was more en vogue.

What is the main problem with postmodernism? ›

Moreover, postmodernism leads to a concern that all claims may be attempts at usurpation of power. But the main weakness of postmodernism is its internal inconsistency. As mentioned in previous posts, postmodernism can be defined as unbelief about metanarratives.

What is the most important technique of postmodernism? ›

Irony, playfulness, black humor

This irony, along with black humor and the general concept of "play" (related to Derrida's concept or the ideas advocated by Roland Barthes in The Pleasure of the Text) are among the most recognizable aspects of postmodernism.

Who is the father of postmodernism? ›

French post-structuralist philosopher, best known for his highly influential formulation of postmodernism in The Postmodern Condition. Despite its popularity, however, this book is in fact one of his more minor works.

What are the key themes of postmodernism? ›

Postmodernism, particularly as an academic movement, can be understood as a reaction to modernism in the Humanities. Whereas modernism was primarily concerned with principles such as identity, unity, authority, and certainty, postmodernism is often associated with difference, plurality, textuality, and scepticism.

What is the major difference between modernism and postmodernism? ›

The main difference between modernism and postmodernism is that modernism is characterized by the radical break from the traditional forms of prose and verse whereas postmodernism is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions.

When did postmodernism begin? ›

Postmodernism had begun as a radical fringe movement in the 1970s, but became the dominant look of the 1980s, the 'designer decade'. Vivid colour, theatricality and exaggeration: everything was a style statement.

What are the 3 stages of modernism? ›

Three phases of modernity are distinguished here: eurocentric, westcen- tric, and polycentric modernity.

Which religion is most similar to Christianity? ›

Islam shares a number of beliefs with Christianity. They share similar views on judgment, heaven, hell, spirits, angels, and a future resurrection. Jesus is acknowledged as the greatest prophet and venerated as a saint by Muslims.

What is modern Christianity called? ›

Contemporary Christianity (1946 – present)

What is Westernized Christianity? ›

Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity (Eastern Christianity being the other). Western Christianity is composed of the Latin Church and Western Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as the Old Catholic Church, Independent Catholicism and Restorationism.

What are the 6 elements of worldview? ›

what are the 6 elements of a worldview?
  • Ideology. -core beliefs usually expressed in a formal and precise way (ex. ...
  • Narrative. - recounts significant events in history of those who hold the worldview. ...
  • Norms. -a standard of some kind. ...
  • Ritual. ...
  • Experience. ...
  • Social element.

What is modernism in the Bible? ›

Fundamentalists believed the Bible to be the absolute word of God, and they viewed everything in it as scientifically and historically accurate. Modernists viewed the Bible less statically, thinking that Christ was a representation of how God wanted us to live.

What is modernity and how does it relate to Christianity? ›

"Modernity is better understood as an attempt to find a new metaphysical/theological answer to the question of the nature and relation of God, man, and the natural world that arose in the late medieval world as a result of a titanic struggle between contradictory elements within Christianity itself.

What is the gift of the Incarnation? ›

All of life is God's gracious gift. This graciousness applies not only to ourselves and our neighbors, each of whom is made in His image and likeness, but applies as well to the whole of creation which was entrusted to the human family's care and cultivation (Gen. 1:26-31).

What are two beliefs about the incarnation? ›

Meaning of incarnation

1. God took on the full limitations of the human condition when he became Jesus 'the Word became flesh and lived among us'– shows how much he loves the human race. 2. Jesus went through the whole cycle of a human life – shows Christians that God understands their needs.

Why is the incarnation necessary for salvation? ›

Salvation comes through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, so the incarnation is essential to salvation because it affirms the divine humanity of Christ. However, we must not forget that the hope of salvation rests not only in His humanity, but in the work of Christ.

What are the 5 aspects of worldview? ›

Worldview is used very differently by linguists and sociologists. It is for this reason that James W. Underhill suggests five subcategories: world-perceiving, world-conceiving, cultural mindset, personal world, and perspective.

What are the 7 elements of worldview? ›

These charts are structured around the seven key elements of a worldview:
  • View of human nature.
  • View of the good life.
  • Equality with others.
  • Responsibilities to others.
  • Relationship between the individual and the state (government and society)
  • Relationship of humans with nature.
  • Sources of ethical wisdom.
1 Jul 2014

What are the 2 kinds of worldview? ›

The four worldviews are: Theism, Naturalism, Pantheism, and Deism. Theism1: is the belief in one God who is Creator and Ruler of the universe. Creator, and Ruler of the universe. Naturalism/Materialism2: is the belief that all things came out of nothing.

What are the 6 major worldviews? ›

Focuses on the six dimensions of worldviews upon which the course is structured: experiential, mythical, ritual, doctrinal, ethical, and social.

What are some examples of worldview? ›

The concept worldview usually refers to an interpretation of reality that provides an overarching framework for the constitution of the world or the cosmos. Various belief systems, religions, ideologies, and science itself are examples of worldviews that contain differing pictures of the world.

What are the six worldview questions? ›

Sire identifies the following as the seven basic questions a worldview tries to answer:
  • What is prime reality? ...
  • What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
  • What is a human being?
  • What happens to a person at death?
  • Why is it possible to know anything at all?
8 Jan 1998


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