This morning at the Desiring God National Conference, Vodie Bauchman gave a great message entitled The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World. It was very compelling and passionate plea for the truth of the Christian gospel in contrast to a secular view. Tim Challies summarizes the message here.
Though I thought this message was very good, it should have
been titled "The Supremacy of Christ and the Truth in a Modernistic World" - Bauchman clearly represented a humanistic/nihilistic worldview that he called "Postmodern secular humanism" - this view was not a postmodern one.
Just for interest, Bauchman asked four questions of worldviews which I find helpful: 1) Who am I? 2) Why I am here? 3) What is wrong with the world? 4) How to we make that wrong right? Seeing how Bauchman answered these for "postmodern secular humanism" it will be evident that he was representing a modernistic view not a postmodern one:
Secular Humanist Perspective
Who am I? You are nothing! You are an accident, a mistake. You are a glorified ape and that is all you are. You are the result of random evolutionary processes. There is no rhyme, no reason, no purpose.
Why am I here? To consume and enjoy. No amount is ever enough as we always want a little bit more. All that matters is power. The answers to the first two questions bring about the social Darwinism that has caused such harm to the world.
What is wrong with the world? People are either insufficiently educated or insufficiently governed. People either don't know enough or they aren't being watched enough.
How can what is wrong be made right? More education and more government. Teach people more stuff. The problem is that if you take a sinful human being and teach him more, you create a person with greater ability to destroy. Then we govern them more, but who governs the governors?
This is a good critique of the worldview that flowered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but I do not see this being a view held by postmoderns. To illustrate, I am going to track through the four questions as they might have been answered by that view.
Who am I? A postmodern reply would be along the lines of the ecclectic self. A person is how they are self-defined through their choices and cultural proclivities. One may choose to self-identify with certain groups, causes, styles, beliefs, brands, music, film etc. The postmodern person can build their self how they see fit. It is a fundamental denial of an ontological and universal human nature...in its place is substituted a constructed self made in the image of the choices of the autonomous man.
Why am I here? We are here...there is not an ultimate explanation for this fact. Due to this reality, and my felt need for meaning, the postmodern desire is to create this meaning in community and live it there. Ultimate metanarratives are replaced by mini narratives which we create (with language) and enjoy our together.
What's wrong with the world? Human beings have for millenia had the perchant to absolutize the views of their tribe. As a result peoples have sought to conquer, destroy, and oppress others with their absolutist ideologies...many times using such elegant tools of persuasion such as tanks. This in the postmodern mind is very bad [don't ask if it is absolutely bad - that would be obnoxious of you]
How can this wrong be made right? Human beings should embrace a tolerant view of the world where all views are equally valued, even celebrated, and human beings are thereby free, without fear, to create meaning and enjoy the creation and enjoyment of their selves.
I think thinking through how the gospel Truth confronts these issues and fulfills the longings behind them, would be an interesting talk to hear Dr. Bauchman address.
On a final note - Tim Challies is summarizing the sessions on his site - they are very good summaries of the messages given. Additionally, Desiring God will be providing the audio for download, free of charge, later in the week. Isn't free a good thing?