I just returned from an afternoon at JAVA (‘my spot’/coffeehouse in Twin Falls). I spent the afternoon with Stanley Grenz [just a clarification that most likely does not need to be made…I didn’t really hang out with Grenz…I was just reading his book], discussing the rise of the modern world. Interesting stuff…he writes in his Primer on Postmodernism: “The belief in progress arose as well from the Enlightenment reading of history. Historians in the Age of Reason painted the Middle Ages as an era of superstition and barbarism. But they were confident that humankind was now emerging out of that era…”
I wonder. Are we [those with a postmodern bent] painting modernity as an era of close-mindedness and ignorant trust in the human mind? I only ask because it is interesting what one can do with history. Modern historians used it to their advantage – making the medieval period out to be very dark [okay, no jokes about the ‘dark ages’] – most likely not a fair portrayal of the times [since we seem to be turning back to premodern ideas]. Are we doing that to moderns…? Will the post-postmoderns do that to us one day? Will they use history to their advantage and make us out to be a bunch of ignorant fools because of our beliefs…?
Just makes you wonder what will come next…
I think a good question is…what is the postmodern arbiter of truth? Again, quoting from Grenz: “In the premodern era, divine revelation functioned as the final arbiter of truth…Enlightenment thinkers began to appeal to human reason rather than externally imposed revelation as the final arbiter of truth…” So what is the postmodern arbiter of truth? Is there one…or is that simply a modern obsession…even the need for an arbiter of truth?
Last question: this is probably the most annoying and overly-asked one…but I will just ask it once and get it out of my system. The essentials…the essentials of the faith. The things we can not and will not bend on. When asked, “Well, how far can one stray, or experiment with theologically….” the answer is undoubtedly, “As long as she holds to the essentials…” Great. Thanks a lot. But I don’t have any idea what the essentials are? Is there even any list of essentials at all? Let’s say we even agreed that the only essential is Jesus. But then what are we talking about? Do you have to believe everything about Jesus to be a Christian? What if you can’t get past the virgin birth. Can you be a Christian without believing in the virgin birth – as long as you still believe Jesus is the Savior?
Thoughts? I’m out for the day. I’m going to Fairfield, ID (pop 395) for a street dance this evening. Should be a…cultural(??) experience.