Postmodernism Emerging Church

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How can we understand postmodernism through the emerging church?


According to Glentz (1996), the term postmodernism was coined in the 1930s and it was in reference to the major historical change that was in progress. However, it was not until 1970s that postmodernism gained widespread attention. In the academic circles, postmodernism was able to emerge as the description used for a broader culture trend as compared to when it was initially taken as a label for the theories expounded in English and Philosophy departments in the University. Postmodernism is a term that indicates a desire to move beyond the modern mind-set while at the same time not separating it from modernity since that is where it emerged from but with time came to react against. Modernism as Sarup (1993) puts is an experiment which can be used to find the inner truths of any given situation and can be characterized by self-consciousness and reflexive ness which makes it very closely related to postmodernism. He goes on to say that in a way, if one looks at modernism as the culture of modernity, then there is a likelihood of the same person looking at postmodernism as the culture of post modernity. Postmodernism according to Sarup, (1993) refers to the incipient or actual dissolution of those social forms associated with modernity. He goes on to explain modernization as a term used to refer to the stages of social development which are based upon industrialization. He points out that “modernization is as a result of the uniting of the social economic changes generated by scientific and technological discoveries and innovations…”

Dimension of Postmodern Thought.

Post-modernism is defined as an eclectic movement which originates from or in aesthetics, philosophy and architecture in Ryan Bishop’s article in the Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology (1996). Postmodernism is thought to adapt to a systematic uncertainty of theoretical perspectives which are grounded in a certain way. When the uncertainty is applied to anthropology, it tends to shift its focus from the sole observation of a particular society to the observation of the anthropological observer too. Bishop (1996) is for the idea that the postmodern attacks in ethnography are based on the belief that there is no true objectivity and the authentic implementation of the scientific method can be considered to be impossible. As he points out, “Postmodernists are suspicious of authoritative definitions and singular narratives of any trajectory of events” (Bishop 1996: 993). Postmodernism follows similar ideas as those in modernism. It does not accept the boundaries mounted between high and low forms of art, the rigid genre distinctions are duly rejected but emphasis is placed on appropriation, caricature, playfulness and irony. The Postmodern thought when compared with the modern thought brings out differences in five different areas namely; reasoning, science, part/whole, God and language. In reasoning, the modern thought starts from the foundation upwards whereas the postmodern thought is web-oriented such that multiple factors of multiple levels of reasoning are involved.

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