I was recently skimming through the introduction of Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy and came across an important appropriation that McLaren makes of Stanley Grenz. McLaren writes: ‘This generous orthodoxy does not mean a simple merging, conflating, or reconciling of the two schools of thought (liberalism and evangelicalism). Rather it disagrees with both regarding the ‘view of certainty and knowledge which liberals and evangelicals hold in common,’ a view Grenz describes as ‘produced…by modernist assumptions.’ Grenz adds that this generous orthodoxy must ‘take seriously the postmoedern problematic’ and suggests ‘the way forward is for evangelicals to take the lead in renewing a theological ‘center’ that can meet the challenges of the postmodern …situation in which the church now finds itself (28).’
That’s a long quote, highlighting two important contemporary ecclesiological thinkers, both of whom I, in fact, respect, and a book with which I’m pretty much in agreement. However, what’s important to bring out of this quote is the degree to which these two thinkers and, frankly, the degree to which most persons in general misunderstand that ever-popular term ‘postmodern.’ What these thinkers describe is really still part of the modern project; a fallibalist understanding of truth and its relationship to humanity. I say this because postmodernity is much different than any simple claims on truth, though that is what it’s often reduced to.
Whether the Christian faith ought or ought not think in terms of postmodern critiques, I will have to leave to you to decide–you’ll find ample compatriots on both sides of this issue, the Radically Orthodox being perhaps the only ones that I know of who actually argue for ‘postmodern sensibilities’ Christianly in a way that is actually consistent with the trajectory of postmodernity (see the debate between Oliver Davies and Graham Ward in this book). But, I would say, to perhaps defend yourself either way with a sense of what postmodernity actually means, and not with the commodified senses of the ideas that are now tossed around in contemporary circles.
Take a look at this Roderick Video for a good interpretation of the postmodern and what Roderick sees as its problems. For a good example of its meaning, read the first half of this op-ed piece in light of Roderick’s break-down between reality and image.