Five Books About Postmodernism

The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 3rd edition

By James Sire
InterVarsity Press, 1997

No one does a better job of defining worldview and the importance of understanding the implications and ramifications of one’s worldview than Sire. Sire presents seven basic questions that every worldview must answer. These questions have to do with prime reality, the nature of man, epistemology, ethics, and the meaning of history. He examines the major worldviews that have influenced history such as: Christian theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern pantheistic monism, the new age, and postmodernism.

Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture

By Gene Edward Veith
Crossway Books, 1994

Veith writes: “The church has always had to confront its culture and to exist in tension with the world. To ignore the culture is to risk irrelevance; to accept the culture uncritically is to risk syncretism and unfaithfulness” (p. xii). Veith presents a guide to the postmodern landscape that is extremely helpful to both the professional leader in the church and to the person in the pew. He presents his findings on how postmodernism has affected the dominant ideas of culture, its art forms, language, science, law, medicine, ethics, politics, and religion.

The Death of Truth

By Dennis McCallum
Bethany House Publishers, 1996

No one is better at showing how the ramifications of postmodernism are lived out in everyday life with respect to one key concept: absolute truth. McCallum writes: “Postmodernism, as it applies to our everyday lives, is the death of truth as we know it” (p. 14). The book’s main focus is this: when you abandon the concept of absolute truth (as necessitated by postmodernism), everything breaks down. History is no longer concerned with trying to ascertain the facts of an event, but deconstructing it or redacting it to purposely fit a personal/political agenda.

With the loss of absolute truth, even the arena of health care is affected. Alternative medicine practices that would once have been considered “occultic” or written off as pure superstition are now practiced and offered in many major hospitals. Therapeutic touch, feng shui, and ayurvedic medicine (the belief that the basic substance of our bodies isn’t matter, but energy and information) are offered by health-care institutions and presented as being “on par” with traditional biochemical, scientific medical care and treatment.

The Challenge of Postmodernism: An Evangelical Engagement

David S. Dockery, ed.
Baker Books, 1995

This is the best compilation of short articles on postmodernism by some key authors that you will find. The individual articles are grouped under the broad categories of theology, hermeneutics, apologetics, and ministry. The article by Stanley J. Grenz, “Star Trek and the Next Generation: Postmodernism and the Future of Evangelical Theology,” is worth the price of the book. Grenz does a marvelous job explaining the differences in worldviews between modernity and postmodernity by comparing the differences in the mission, hero, crew, captain, and ultimate man in the original Star Trek series with those in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Even if you are unfamiliar with the Star Trek series, this article still makes sense and the key differences between modern and postmodern are made crystal clear.

Post-Modern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century World

By Leonard Sweet
Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000

While Veith and McCallum write from a critical perspective of postmodernism, Sweet is an evangelical who sees positive aspects to the postmodern movement. He writes from a pragmatic viewpoint in this book on how the church can take advantage of key changes that are part and parcel of postmodernism. Sweet calls postmodernity an “EPIC culture: Experiential, Participatory, Image-driven, and Connected” (p. 28). The book is replete with facts, statistics, illustrations, and short stories that illuminate the challenges that face the church in the 21st century.

Gary Zustiak teaches psychology and counseling at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.

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