Today in one of my precepts, we were having a conversation about creeds, atonement theories, salvation, cathechismal (we think it’s a word). At the end, one of my classmates looked at me and said, “So, what do the postmoderns think?”
It kind of caught me off-guard for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I’m one of those people who finds talking in precepts a bit uncomfortable, so to be called out like that, that’s not generally how I operate (no worries Tim, I did appreciate you asking). The second part has to do with an email I received shortly after the precept in which another classmate was interested in whether or not I was comfortable being the “go-to person” for the “‘post-modern’ church.” And I guess it catches me off guard because there is an assumption that one person could speak for a community of people. I suppose it’s somewhat different it someone asks, “Tell me about the Assemblies of God perspective on that” or “Tell me what the Presbyterian Church in America thinks about that?” (Even then, though, I think there is still a large variety of opinions on issues within any denominational group). And even more so, with the ‘postmoderns’ – who is to speak for them? Who is able to encapsulate the variety of voices, experiences and perspectives amidst a group of people who seek to defy classification? And need there even be that reason…?
Am I the ‘spokesperson’ for the postmoderns? No, I don’t think so. Another assumption people have about me is that I am the spokesperson here at PTS for Emergent. And to some degree, yes; I can claim that. I am “a” voice of someone who feels connected to Emergent, but I am by no means THE voice of Emergent [I’m sure there are some who even have tighter connections with Emergent than I do, who would hope that I’m NOT the voice of Emergent]. When you read my blog and read my thoughts and feelings about women in ministry, homosexuality or other issues, you are reading MY thoughts and opinions, not those of Emergent, which is made pretty clear by the Disclaimer on my blog (and even though I think there are many good reasons why these SHOULD be opinions that Emergent would seek to hold – that is simply not the case).
So am I A resource for Emergent and postmoderns here at PTS? I don’t know. Perhaps… Am I THE spokesperson for the ‘post-modern’ church? Nope. Do I think you can even have THE spokesperson for postmoderns…? No.
With all of that said, for anyone who wants to have a quick glance at some things that “I” think are important to postmoderns and to many in Emergent, you can download a paper I wrote last semester, called “Emergent Postmoderns: Who are they and What is their Biblical Hermeneutic?” It may or may not be helpful, but I think it summarizes what I think that “some” postmoderns think as far as when it comes to their presuppositions about the Bible. Below you can read my conclusion from the paper:
It is difficult to paint the entire spectrum of a postmodern worldview and understanding of biblical hermeneutics. However, I think that an adequate summary of this cultural group of emergent postmoderns consists of a post-institutional, post-rationalistic, post-individualistic and post-Holocaust/post-9/11 worldview. Therefore an emergent postmodern biblical hermeneutic is ecumenical, dynamic, communal and organic. The hermeneutic is ecumenical in that it struggles to fight against institutions and desires to bring all into the conversation; it is dynamic because it reads the Bible through the lens of a Story and attempts to bring about life-action and response from the text; it is communal because it seeks first the community (over against the individual) and arrives at such an interpretation through authentic relationships of people in dialogue; and lastly, it is organic because it is fluid, ever-changing and has a good understanding of human limitations. An emergent postmodern biblical hermeneutic will not claim to be the only and true hermeneutic, but I believe this hermeneutic is one such way that disillusioned postmoderns find T(t)ruth, meaning and hope in the Bible.