Postmodernism 101. By Heath White. Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, MI 2006. 176 pp. Paper, np.
Considering my own feelings on postmodernism and the effects I’ve seen of it, I actually enjoyed reading this book. The author makes it clear that he is writing in a very broad sense and he does not go into great detail in any area.
I began with a great deal of skepticism because the author states in the first chapter that even though the Amish lead lives controlled by a great deal of traditionalism, they are still undeniably as Christian as the rest of us (p 16). I think the author started using his broad strokes very early on to use that as an example of how different “sects” of Christianity exist within the church today.
The most helpful chapter, and the most disturbing by far, is chapter four. This chapter begins on page 53 and is titled “Truth, Power, and Morality.” Anyone who is confused as to why postmoderns seem to be caught up in relativism will find this very good reading. The author gives good explanations as to why a postmodern finds absolute moral truths to be nonexistent. “Truth is power” is used by postmoderns not to show that power and confidence lie in knowing the truth, but to show that scientists, politicians, and church leaders use “their truth” (and those who believes their teachings) to decide who is worthy of acceptance or not. This, to a postmodern, is abuse of power which is derived from truth. They seem to think that the only viable option left to them is to believe that there are no absolute truths, especially absolute moral truths.
The author then goes on to explain how he uses a logic puzzle to show that relativism is a self-defeating argument, but does not go into what an alternative argument might be to relativism. The book also mentions how, in response to the logic puzzle, a postmodern might agree that there are some moral absolutes, but no one is capable of understanding them therefore no one has any knowledge of what the absolute moral truths are.
This chapter is also disturbing because the author does not attempt to show the Bible as the source of moral absolutes. The author does admit that it would take too long in his book to go into why there are moral absolutes and he does not feel that he would have all the answers anyway, but no mention is made of the moral absolutes found in the Bible or the inerrancy of Scripture.
In the epilogue, the author writes the following, “It is a fairly safe bet that the general distrust of truth and knowledge that marks postmodernism is temporary. This skeptical syndrome flares up at intervals throughout history; it is a response to intellectual exhaustion and often portends something remarkable and new.” I can only hope that something good comes from the postmodern movement, but like they say, “You can put perfume on a pig all day, but in the end, it’s still just a pig.”
For those who know little about postmodernism, this is a fairly easy read and almost enjoyable at times. There is nothing earth-shattering about any of the revelations the author brings to light, but it would help prepare someone for dealing with the seemingly mindless arguments of postmodernism.
Grace Evangelical Society