Postmodernism is a broad term used to describe a certain epistemology that has grown out of the movements of Karl Marx and, to some degree, Sigmund Freud. It arose as a response to modernism, which itself came as a response to cultural and religious absolutism of the 19th Century. Modernism largely saw the previous traditions as a hindrance against progress since in many ways it used faith and philosophy, as opposed to science and rationalism, as its primary means of coming to the knowledge of the truth.
While modernism in many ways was a positive movement through the embrace of logic and reason, in other ways it had a negative impact on religion. It rejected the possibility of the supernatural and sought scientific explanations for what has generally been held to be believed as miraculous. Ultimately, such notions as biblical Creationism were rejected in favor of modernist ideologies such as evolutionism since it sought to explain the existence of the world through natural means rather than supernatural.
Postmodernism, on the other hand, rejects much of modernism in favor of subjectivism. It holds to a basic set of (self-refuting) principles, namely, the rejection of objective or absolute truth. The area of morality is where postmodernism’s footprint has left the largest mark in our society. The subjective idea of morality rejects an absolute standard for morality–for example, the Scriptures–and teaches that what is right or wrong for one person, or group of people, may not necessarily be right or wrong for others.
Essentially, you can hold to your religious beliefs, so long as you don’t try to “impose” them on others.
This movement has gained massive popularity over the past few decades at an alarming rate; especially among millennials and later generations. Postmodernism has primarily influenced higher education, particularly in philosophy, sociology, and history–but also, interestingly enough, even in science and mathematics.
We’ve seen this movement gain ground in mainstream Evangelicalism over the last decade. It started out primarily in the Emergent Church movement but has made its way into more conservative denominations and churches as well. The subjectivism we see taking root in, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention is coming through the conduit of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a heretical worldview that is incompatible with biblical Christianity. It emerged as an offshoot of Critical Theory, a neo-Marxist philosophy that has its roots in the Frankfurt School, and its methods are drawn from Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. CRT teaches that institutional racism exists within every structure of society and that these structures are intrinsically designed in such a manner as to protect and preserve “white supremacy” in our culture. Further, CRT does not rely on factual statistics or objective evidence to support the theory, rather it relies on anecdotal evidence and personal experience.
How it has infected the Church is rather pernicious. One way is that it teaches, through an ideology known as “standpoint epistemology,” that we should give more credence to one’s “lived experiences” than we do to objective truth. We’ve heard this from many Evangelical leaders, such as former Southern Baptist president, JD Greear, and Southern Seminary professor (who we talk about in the podcast below), Jarvis Williams, who teach that it is unloving to appeal to objective truth with a black person is “grieving” over the supposed “unjust” killing of a black person.
The movement has sadly led many away from the objective truth of God revealed in Scripture and has caused many to go astray. This movement needs to be–and can only be–combatted with biblical truth, prayer, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
We must oppose it.