We've suggested that the church has something to learn from postmodern perspectives.
But perhaps you've followed some of the theological or apologetic links on this site or read some of our articles in these areas and are saying to yourself, "Uh....that didn't seem terribly postmodern! What gives?"
If you fall in that category, I wrote this little article for you!
Elsewhere we've offered a couple of ways in which modernism might effect theological reflection:
The modern theologian may feel the need to explain all the particulars of the divine. We suggest that is an impossible task for finite man when reflecting on the One who is infinite.
The modern theologian may also believe that he or she has answered all of the questions.
Rather we've suggested that an appropriate metaphor for theological reflection in postmodernity is that of the faithmap. It leaves room for mystery and is comfortable with the unexplained. Yet it assumes that certain reference points can be reliably known.
Without impugning in any way the integrity, thoroughness, or spiritual character of the great theologians and other writers who've penned the articles listed here or are represented in the links we've included, when reading these thinkers one might not sense what some are now calling "a chastened rationalism." Or, put another way, when you read the theologians of the past you may really get the feeling that they believed they've gotten most things about God figured out pretty well.
When reading such theologians and writers, we would caution those who've had their theological paradigms permanently (?) changed by postmodern insights to read with charity those who've labored without advantage of exposure to new types of thinking.
While we might wish for more humility in others' discourse, we must remember to exercise a similar humility ourselves.
And a bit of historical perspective is helpful as well.
Author and pastor Brian McLaren has pointed out that postmodernism is not the same as anti-modernism. He compares it to post-adolescence. Post-adolescents have passed through adolescence and the accomplishments and lessons of adolescence are assumed (well, at least in some kids!). Similarly, a balanced postmodernism, if you will, does not reverse the accomplishments of modernism but refines them and builds on them.
McLaren has compared the great theologies of the past with the great cathedrals that were painstakingly constructed during the Middle Ages. While we might not build such structures today, we can certainly admire - and abundantly learn from the admiring - these marvelous edifices.
After all, we don't tear them down simply because we think we might be able to build something a little better.
But also, as we gaze upon these cathedrals, there is one thing we should remember: We should be humble to realize that there may be one or two things that they've seen that we've missed.