Moving Beyond the Post-Modern


I could be wrong, but I think the above figure is a nice way of looking at different “societies.” It is a very simple way of looking at “epistemology”— how do we know what we know (or think we know). All four look at how truth comes to us. We can start with the 2nd flowchart.

1.  Pre-Modern. Pre-modern society assumes that truth comes to us through ancient authorities. These ancient authorities (typically Scriptures or authoritative writings) are then  mediated and interpreted by contemporary experts– such as priests  or scholars.

2.  Modern. Modern society tends to hold to the superstitions (to be blunt) belief of “progress.” As such, they do not place much value on ancient authorities. For them, truth is mediated by local experts— whether scientists, theologians, scholar/educators or otherwise.

3.  Post-Modern. Post-Modern society strongly questions the “experts” with regards to their connection to their competence or trustworthiness. As such, truth is perceived and interpreted directly by “US” through our perceptions. While some post-moderns deny objective truth, most accept it’s possibility but doubt the ability to identify it with certainty.

4.  Evangelical. I am saying Evangelical, not Christian, since there are Christian groups that are Pre-modern (“apostolic”), Modern (“liberal”), and Post-modern (“new age” or perhaps “post-modern/emergent”). Evangelical groups, however, accept that divine truth comes to us through ancient authorities (Holy Scripture). However, Evangelicals hold to the priesthood of the believer and the sufficiency, and responsibility, of each believer to study and understand Scripture personally.   As such, there may be individuals who have insights we can learn from… but there are no experts that can take the place of learning and growing ourselves.

If one accepts this oversimplified model as expressing some level of truth, what does it tell us? It tells us that the battle between post-modernism and modernism (to say nothing of pre-modern thinking) is not all that relevant for Evangelicals. All three may have their strengths, but all are ultimately flawed from an Evangelical Christian perspective.

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