Beyond the absolute/relative truth binary wrt postmodernism

Upon further review I think I’ll keep that one to myself. It’s in the McGilchrist book and too hemispherically technical to share outside of that context I think.

In other words, you’re a post-modernist. At least you’ve heard the truth from that church. I hope you give it some more consideration as your relativism is impenetrable by reason.

Her relativism is pure reason. Is absolute truth. Saying that that is in the Bible is as utterly meaningless as my saying it’s in an old carrier bag in the loft.

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Clearly. It would be nice if people from your perspective would actually interact with my ideas instead of just telling me to think differently and listen to people who don’t make sense to me.


I just googled postmodernism in Christianity. The first couple hits started by assuming PM existed to take Christianity down and gave no indication of having any insight into PM was even about.

This source was more promising. In the interest of engaging the ideas, here is an extended excerpt. I won’t be back right away as we’re getting ready to receive our first house guest in two years today and will be hosting until Tuesday but hope to learn more about it when I can. I mostly find myself in agreement with most of what I know about PM but haven’t ever felt like I had the whole picture, perhaps because so many people writing on it are in reaction to something they fear about it without any real insight that it is hard to discern the underlying idea?

Some Common Features of Postmodern Theology

The Doctrine of Scripture

First, evangelicalism as a matter of course affirms that Scripture is the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God. Theological postmodernism, however, expresses profound skepticism regarding the inspiration of Scripture and its entailments. Further, postmodern theologians observe that culturally-conditioned interpreters, laden with presuppositions and biases, cannot interpret texts objectively. Since each text contains layers of meaning and no single reality, they caution that the hermeneutical task requires epistemic humility. Moreover, they counsel readers to seek spiritual insights from texts, not objective truth. In order to profit from biblical narratives (some posit that outside of narratives there is only “white noise”), postmodern theologians propose abandoning the well-worn, historical-critical tools of modernism. In their place, they commend reading Scripture through new, multi-dimensional lenses. This entails engaging in open-ended conversation with the biblical material, applying a hermeneutic of suspicion to deconstruct inherent power structures in texts, and listening to “voices from the margins” (feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic, etc. ).

The Doctrine of God

Second, postmodern theology subjects the doctrine of God to extensive reinterpretation. Deconstructive theologian Jean-Luc Marion dismisses ontotheology (the theology of being), while, paradoxically, assuming the existence of God. He decries ontotheology because he believes the language of being limits the divine. As a result, he labels the infinite, invisible, and immutable God of classical theism a conceptual idol.6 How then should one conceive of God? As love and superabundant gift.7 Marion qualifies, however, that although God gifts himself freely, human beings cannot dominate the gift. John Caputo agrees with Marion’s anti-metaphysical conception of God and also adopts Emmanuel Levinas’ language of excess to describe him. He employs the term impossible for God and concludes that while individuals may experience the divine, they cannot know him: “We do not know what we believe or to whom we are praying.”8


Your OP is first class. This para is definitive. (Your response here to @GJDS’ understandings of deconstruction led me to try another dose of Derrida. I love Searle’s response, but feel the continentals are nonetheless on to something.)

I recoil from William Lane Craig above all for his pseudo-intellectual absolutism, putting faith before intellect in the tradition of Francis Schaeffer. I haven’t found a humble apologist yet, do you know of any? What about yourself?

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Very glad to read this from you.

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Could we define:




And what philosophy preceded Modernism and succeeded postmodernism? Was the precedent some form of biblical inerrancy, even though there are many contradictions such that the bible cannot be inerrant, by any definition? If so, what is pre-modernism called? Certainly not evangelicalism. And young-earth believer (YECers) is not even relevant. As for postmodernism, would it be scientism?

If we are to assume that the new covenant did away with animal sacrifices, and that this is a good thing, then what must we think of the event that caused this change? After all, that event was a human sacrifice. In what way (and in what world) should we compare the two concepts and decide that human death is more civilized than animal sacrifices?

I am using modernism/modernity to describe the modes of thought that became dominant in Western, industrialized societies post-Enlightenment.
I am using postmodern/postmodernity to describe the modes of thought that became dominant in Western, globalized societies after the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.
When I use Reformers I’m referring to leaders of the Protestant Reformation, who predate modernity.

Pre-Modern (as an adjective), often. I’m not talking about philosophy, I’m talking about dominant cultural frames and modes of thinking and prioritized values.

Biblical inerrancy as it is conceived of today is a 20th century construct that came out of debates between Fundamentalists and Princeton theologians.

No. It is a broader historical/cultural/societal context that shapes worldview, but within it people have many different belief systems. You can be a postmodern Muslim, or a postmodern Christian or a postmodern secular humanist.

I have no clue how this relates to the topic under discussion.

How about 1 apple + 1 idea = 2 ?

Math is based on the lowest common denominator, but that is not Reason or Absolute. That is Convention. Also it does not make scientific sense to count unrelated things , 1 apple + 1 orange + 1 sofa + 1 idea does not = anything.

We are able to use math when there is a common denominator because they have something in common, that is they are relational.

Interesting to get the contexts. To my ear, inerrancy -as well as scientism- seem like like products of the enlightenment’s over-confidence. But I don’t know the actual history so thanks for sharing that.

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At least in my thinking, scientism and modernism are closely related. Modernism by one definition is described as follows:
“ Modernism was essentially based on a utopian vision of human life and society and a belief in progress, or moving forward . It assumed that certain ultimate universal principles or truths such as those formulated by religion or science could be used to understand or explain reality.”

There was the idea that knowledge and technology would make things better. Among evangelicals, that translated into the dominant eschatology pre-WWI being postmillennialism, with that optimism tempered by the ravages of war.

I don’t think you are far off here, Mark. I think scientism and biblicism are products of the enlightenment’s over-confidence. Biblicism being the belief that the Bible is the ultimate authority on all matters… ever. Contrast this with the Reformed Protestant creeds that state that the Bible is the final authority on all matters pertaining to salvation, doctrine, and godly living.

Inerrancy is merely the logical consequence of biblicism. If you have an ultimate authority on ALL THINGS logically it necessary for it to be totally factually accurate in everything it talks about too.

Perhaps controversially, I would suggest that many Reformed types have lost their way in embracing Biblicism and Inerrancy. Maybe this is semantics, however, I prefer the term ‘Reliability of Scripture’ over ‘inerrancy’. But then I’m probably a bit of square peg among my tribe anyway.


What happened to Jesus Christ, the Word/Logos of God?

If anyone is interested in what the Reformed creeds and confession say about the authority of the Bible or a definition of Biblicism, then check out my first ever forum post:


Could it be that PSA is the ‘plain meaning of scripture’ and is therefore an absolute truth?

It is is simply my question to you, derived from thoughts about your reference to “post-enlightenment”. I meant no offense to your beliefs which are (perhaps) congruent with mine. The notion of a juxtaposition of an enlightened view of a “new covenant” may be contradictory to the facts in question. The Enlightenment Age beginning in the 1700’s centered on “pursuit of happiness, sovereignty of reason and using our senses as sources of knowledge”, but at its essence was the need to curtail the political power of organized religion. During that period, references were typically made to the “enlightenment of the new covenant”. I was simply drawing attention to a possible irony of that assumption.

Jesus was executed by the state, not sacrificed by priests. Seeing his death metaphorically in terms of the OT sacrificial system is just that, metaphorical thinking. It is an aid for understanding the theological impact of what his death and more importantly, his resurrection entailed for Christian doctrine.

I still don’t understand how it relates to modernity and postmodernity. And again, I am not talking about specific points made by philosophers, I’m talking about typical ways of processing reality based on the culture and environment one is raised in.

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I don’t understand the question.

Sorry, it was driven by the interaction below:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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