SOURCE: | Theological Studies v57 p654-89 D '96 |
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POSTMODERNITY IS a word one finds now with some frequency in both scholarly and casual literature. It is a "movement" that has inspired raging debates about the "cult of theory" across the arts and sciences. My intention in this article is to examine several central themes of postmodernity and the manner in which they affect critical theological issues. I contend that individuals grappling with many of the major disputed questions in theology today--truth, hermeneutics, language, and correlation--have much to learn from postmodern theory, but must do so without abandoning the legitimate achievements of previous epochs.
All have some familiarity with the term postmodernity and its logical contrast with modernity. In brief, postmodernity is that type of thought that rebels against any totalizing understanding of reality. It rejects various attempts to "stop the show," "freeze the flux," and "release the truth-police."(FN1) Postmodernity accuses its predecessor, modernity, of having sacralized human rationality. In the quest of the Enlightenment to uncover the basic and essential structures of human life, thought, and discourse, modernity leveled and homogenized reality. The Enlightenment's concern with methodology as the path to truth caused it to veil historicity and to ignore the nuances, complexities, and ambiguities of being and knowing. This truncated notion of humanity led, in science, to an excessive Baconism that ignored the historical-hermeneutical elements of thought and inappropriately canonized the foundationalisms of positivism and empiricism. Particular postmodern invective is reserved for this kind of rationalism that deified algorithmic positivism,... [continues]
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