Thursday, March 17, 2005

JP Moreland on Postmodernism

Thanks to Melinda at STR, who has posted online J.P. Moreland's excellent plenary address from ETS, entitled Truth, Contemporary Philosophy, and the Postmodern Turn. Ironically, I was just thinking about this essay last night, hoping it would soon be available.

The paper has some technical philosophical terms in it, but I think it is well worth the effort to read and to understand it. It's good to force ourselves to read things that make us think, reread, look up words, etc. (STR also links to an online philosophical dictionary to help you get through it.)

Hearing this address last fall, I wanted to cheer. You have to understand the atmosphere of ETS. It is filled with brilliant, godly people. But theology and the Bible are often treated as specimens in a lab. There is often little prayer or emotion. It is often long on analysis and short on worship.

Enter Dr. Moreland. He was not content merely in pointing out the intellectual mistakes with the evangelical accomodation to postmodernism, but he was willing to call a spade a spade--that is, to call sin a sin. He rightly referred to postmodernism as an immoral, cowardly position. To do so, in that environment, was an act of courage, of boldness, and of bravery. May the tribe of J.P. Moreland--who understands philosophy to operate within the framework of our intellectual and moral duties as disciples of Christ--increase.

Here are a couple of excerpts along these lines:

...postmodernism is an immoral and cowardly viewpoint such that persons who loves truth and knowledge, especially disciples of the Lord Jesus, should do everything they can to heal the plague that postmodernism has and inevitably does leave...

For some time I have been convinced that postmodernism is rooted in pervasive confusions, and I have tried to point out what some of these are. I am also convinced that postmodernism is an irresponsible, cowardly abrogation of the duties that constitute a disciple’s calling to be a Christian intellectual and teacher...

Faced with such opposition and the pressure it brings, postmodernism is a form of intellectual pacifism that, at the end of the day, recommends backgammon while the barbarians are at the gate. It is the easy, cowardly way out that removes the pressure to engage alternative conceptual schemes, to be different, to risk ridicule, to take a stand outside the gate. But it is precisely as disciples of Christ, even more, as officers in His army, that the pacifist way out is simply not an option. However comforting it may be, postmodernism is the cure that kills the patient, the military strategy that concedes defeat before the first shot is fired, the ideology that undermines its own claims to allegiance. And it is an immoral, coward’s way out that is not worthy of a movement born out of the martyrs’ blood.