Monat: Juli 2005

How can a meta-narrative not be oppressive?

I have already mentioned (in one of my replies to Brad Andersen) that I cannot but see the Christian story as a meta-narrative. Its claims to exclusivity, universality, and absolute truth are completely incompatible with the post-modern portrait of a "local story" within a community. Yet, I do think that the story of faith, i.e. the story of the Spirit-filled community, is able to escape the post-modern criticism against meta-narratives for a number of reasons.
One of them has just re-surfaced in my reading of Anthony Thiselton’s Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self: On Meaning, Manipulation and Promise: In chapter 3 ("Do All Controlling Models in Religion Serve Manipulative Purposes?") Thiselton refers to the New Testament, to Luther’s "theology of the cross", to Bonhoeffer’s writings and to Jürgen Moltmann in order to show that the Christian story is not promoting power and glory for its proponents. Criticism levelled against it from the days of Nietzsche through Heidegger, Foucault, and Rorty, has therefore no base: The Christian community is not seeking to promote itself above all other communities.
Rather, it is seeking to promote Jesus Christ, the liberator, who sets people free from oppression. But, that’s already another argument …

my cup of coffee

I have just changed blog engines from b2evo to WordPress. One of the main reasons for this was the inability of b2evo to let users subscribe to comments on a specific post. After playing around with WordPress on my dev site for a couple of days, I am quite impressed. Let’s hope this will continue for some time.
Along with the new install went a necessary redesign for my blog, which now does not follow the CI of my other sites any more. Those who know me well will easily understand the coffee theme on this site. At any rate, come in and have a cup …

Antti Hirviniemi: Knowledge of God

Antti Hirviniemi has joined our recent discussion on post-modernism and the knowledge of God by posting to his own blog. In his summary of my statements about post-modern epistemology, he remarks that

[…] Christoph takes a generally pessimistic (perhaps realistically so) view of postmodernism […]

I’m not sure I do. I am in the process of formulating my stance towards post-modernism for my Ph.D. dissertation. So far, I haven’t completely worked out my conclusion on this question — which, first of all, depends on how you define post-modernism. And, again, that’s something I’m not sure you’re even able to do.

Anyways, I have recently written up a partial definition, along with the pros and cons I find in post-modern thinking in a presentation I made to my doctoral promoters while in Amsterdam. To summarize a little bit (you can read the article here), I find positive as well as negative aspects to the underlying philosophy.

bradandgeo: Augustine and the knowledge of God…

Brad Anderson has some interesting thoughts on Augustine, the knowledge of God, and its relation to (post-)modern thinking.

In his short summary of the movement from modernism to post-modern basics, he remarks that,

This shift in thinking is what has allowed faith to enter back into the public arena of thought � because in the postmodern context, �faith� is as valid an interpretive framework as feminism, post-colonialism and many others are.

Of course, I’d like to add that what is direly lacking in post-modernism is any kind of validation to that faith — "true faith" isn’t an objective category any more. The only thing that may lead to the discovery (no, that’s too modernist — the definition) of "true faith" (where "true" is a function of a particular context in post-modernism) is through the consensus of the community. And that is usually derrived from pure pragmatic thinking: We’ll accept whatever seems to work for us.

Whatever we may think about this kind of "truth" and the underlying epistemology, it highlights the importance of living a highly practical faith that "works" so well that the people around us cannot but acknowledge its truth. As the old saying goes, we’ll preach the word at all times (but "preaching", again, would be very modernist), only we’ll use much more than words.

Über Christoph

Christoph Fischer (* 1978) ist Pfarrer der Evangelischen Landeskirche in Württemberg auf der Pfarrstelle „Erlöserkirche“ in Albstadt-Tailfingen.

Christoph ist verheiratet mit Rebecca. Gemeinsam haben sie drei Töchter.