What is postmordernism?

How much thought have you given to postmodernism? Maybe you’ve heard the term, but you’re not sure exactly what it means. Or maybe a pastor or someone in your church has talked about it, and you have only a vague idea about what it entails.

So what is postmodernism? Well, it depends. No, really, that’s the heart of it: it always seems to come down to someone saying, “Well, it depends.”

What does that mean? It means that many people in a postmodern society think there are many truths, complexities cannot be known in any one way, and truth and knowledge are a matter of perspective rather than absolutes. They lack a belief that there is only one worldview or ideology that can be a solution. They favor the gray areas over clear distinctions between black and white. Postmodernists don’t trust a system that says, “This is the only way.” When confronted with taking a stand on a societal or Biblical issue, they might say, “Well, it depends,” and then offer interpretations and say there are many possibilities. Even when a matter is specifically dealt with in scripture, postmodernists believe the determination of right and wrong should be left up to the individual. It’s all relative to the postmodern, and that relativism provides freedoms.

Followers of Christ understand that the Bible is the Word of God and that it puts forth absolute truths. Postmodernists aren’t comfortable with something that demands such a strict interpretation, and they value diversity and a willingness to interpret texts like the Bible in a variety of ways, depending on the situation or the individual. But remember, postmodernists may not be adverse to God or religion; they may just not feel like they have a place in their lives for the absolute truths of Christianity.

Now maybe you’ve realized you know some postmodernists in your life, your community, or even your family. Maybe you, yourself, lean toward being postmodern. You are certainly not alone. So understanding postmodernism as it relates to Christianity is important, especially if you’re a missions leader.

In the next few weeks, we’ll look at what it means to be a children’s missions leader in a postmodern society and the challenges you may face while guiding children to be effective Christ followers.


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