Scripture as Metanarrative – pt.3 February 28, 2008Posted by Matt in church, philosophy, postmodernism, religion, science.
Tags: Lyotard, metanarrative, modernism, pluralism, postmodernism, relativism, truth
Again, thank you for reading and commenting. Let’s begin the third part of our look at Scripture as Metanarrative with a passage from the book of Mark:
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
While the Enlightenment brought about great advances in across the scientific spectrum – from curing diseases to gaining a greater understanding of the world we find ourselves in – it also enacted quite a cost. The Christian faith faced relentless attacks from Modern thinkers, who branded it as little more than a fable that failed the rigorous tests put forth by a new, “enlightened” worldview. Many began to scoff at the idea of God and instead put their faith in the golden calf of progress and the myth that continual progress would lead to some utopian ideal. The world would be reinvented through technological progress and soon become a place free of war and hunger and hatred and, for that matter, religion. In the 20th century, the dream collapsed under the weight of world wars, mass killings, and an increase in worldwide poverty, leaving, by the end of the century, a pile of rubble where our Modern tower of Babel once stood.
The Christian faith suffered beneath the scourge of Modernity, which pushed it from the public sphere and, as those professing to faith began to accept the tenets of Modernism, the faith quickly moved from one entrenched in community to one unique to the individual. Where science and logic held the key to ultimate, objective truth, religion was seen as just another subjective experience that, in the grand scheme of things, meant very little.
The collapse of the Modern paradigm again brought humanity back to square one in terms of their understanding of the world. What would arise phoenix-like from the ashes and lead us to a brighter tomorrow?
There are a multitude of choices in today’s buffet line of life philosophies – you can accept any number of religions, you can bow to the nihilistic god of money and materialism, you can continue the Modern dream of science and strive for that unreachable goal of perfection.
Little is certain about what lies in the future, but those of the Christian faith can rejoice in the floundering Modern worldview – by its failure to live up to the lofty promises it proclaimed, the playing field has now been leveled, placing Christianity alongside the other metanarratives. Lyotard’s critique of metanarratives and reason has effectively relativized Modern claims of objective, universal truth, leaving an opening for the emerging Christian faith.
So, now that the Christian faith has been granted a place in the postmodern marketplace of ideas, we face the arduous task of maintaining it. First of all, Christians must be careful not to squander these openings using modern techniques that attempt to show the truth of the Christian faith using rational demonstrations and then impose them on a pluralistic culture. Rather, the postmodern apologetic will be based upon presuppositions. It will be one in which everyone will place their presuppositions on the proverbial table and then narrate their way through the Christian story, allowing others to see it in a way that makes sense through their own worldview.
Next: Becoming a Storytelling Church