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February 28, 2008

Comments

Edwin M.

Professor Colon gave me an admonition which has remained with me regarding questions that have an either/or option, however, I am not sure if I can escape it with the following inquiry. Is God’s ultimate purpose to suppress the opposition of evil in the world or is God’s purpose to demonstrate love, subsequently bringing about its changing influence and removing all contra powers? Walsh & Keesmaat touched on various points in this chapter, including viewing Colossians in a worldview perspective; however, I ask, ‘What’s the critical point?’ Is it along the lines of debating the interpretations of truth or is it finding how to proclaim ‘the truth’ in our postmodern times? If we agree with the latter, then God’s objective (and our proclamation) must be reflective of love demonstrating itself rather than acting as a ‘regime going against a regime.’

Foucault’s philosophy sees ‘bible truth’ as a sort of regime. And arguments can be made for and against that philosophy. The authors explicate that Foucault views truth as some sort of product of ‘this world.’ It is this product that brings about constraint and imposition of power. How should Christianity respond to such a view? Do we simply say that the truth that we proclaim is not a constraint or some type of ‘power burden?’ Is love a power? If so, how are we to interpret or understand this power? Is it a regime or not? These questions are engaging, and I’m throwing them out there for you to tackle.

One last thing, can someone help me to fully comprehend the following sentence. I can understand about two thirds but then I get lost, even after reading it many times. The sentence that I am having difficulty with is on page 101, second paragraph. “Systems of symbolic totality are subjected to a radical hermeneutic of suspicion precisely because they hide their constructed character behind reifications of that which is viewed simply as ‘natural’ in order to legitimate conformity to their own horizon reference.” (p 101) From “…in order to legitimate…” is where I don’t quite understand. Thanks guys! (And Girls!)

Paul Mwansa

If any word comes close to summarizing the postmodern posture towards “truth,” it would likely be distrust. Distrust not only pervades the deep postmodern resistance to totalizing systems or worldviews, it also permeates the postmodern hermeneutic of suspicion. Comprehending this idea more fully helped me better understand the notoriously frustrating rhetorical strategy many of these thinkers adopt, and it helped me better understand why many Christian thinkers are so deeply troubled by postmodern conceptions of truth. I saw, for instance, that a monotheistic religion (like Christianity) is readily vulnerable to the postmodern mindset of distrust, since it naturally has a tendency towards universal explanations, and, as such, can be inclined to view other religions (as the ancient Jews saw their polytheistic neighbors) as untrue and idolatrous. This, of course, is something the postmodernist would object to as intolerant and self-promoting, and, with some of the fanaticisms that universalizing religions have demonstrated (jihads, crusades, wars of religion), they will feel justified (and are somewhat justified) in asserting that a faith like Christianity, since it is inherently totalizing, and thus prone to violence and oppression, is a worldview-turned-ideology whose large-scale discourse masks its identity as a regime of truth intent on suppressing other rival claimants to facts about reality. Incidentally, a similar suspicion of religion is behind much of the attacks of the so-called new atheists like Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) who argue more so than ever that religion is dangerous and must be abandoned.

At any rate, now that I see more and more what postmodernists are trying to do – undermine any claims to totality so as to make sure suppressive aims are suppressed – postmodernism doesn’t frighten me half as much as it once did. This is because there are legitimate Christian responses to postmodern challenges – namely, at its core Christianity is resistant to any conception of truth as power and, along with the bad, Christianity has an impressive record of goods underneath its belt. So good, in fact, it may be unmatched. More interesting to me, though, is the ironic lesson all of this teaches me: With various converging factors increasingly pushing Christianity to the margins, why can’t I employ a postmodern critique of the cultural powers that be and thus help undermine their own totalizing tendencies?

Sylvester Paulasir

If I have to follow through the logic of the argument presented in the chapter, the book of Colossians is primarily "a worldview text" which claims to present the "word of truth". The very fact that Colossians presents "the truth" shows a red flag for postmodernist thinkers whose immediate tendency would be to "unmask the power grab involved in the text, deconstruct the normativity of the author's voice and give back legitimate voice to that which has been silenced and marginalized".

Then the question moves on to whether Colossians presents a regime of truth as explained by Foucauldian's definition of truth and the authors attempt to answer that question with a 'no' by answering a bigger question of whether the Bible as a whole is a regime of truth. This is where the authors seem to make some assumptions. The major assumption that I see is that postmodernists try to reject any notion of one totalizing truth because it closes an individual who embraces 'the truth' inside a box which in turn creates "an un-them polarity". Then they proceed to explain with two brilliant themes from the scriptures of why the Bible has some strong antitotalizing dimensions to it.

My question is, by viewing the Bible in an antitotalizing dimension, thereby eliminating the 'us-them polarity', can we really claim that the Bible and its message is NOT a regime of truth? True, the message of the Bible is not exclusive but inclusive. Sure we can preach the message without violence (unlike in the middle ages) but I dont think the Bible and its message would cease to appear as a regime of truth to a postmodernist. If that is the case, then we are back in square one, aren't we?

Jacqueline Black

In last night discussion I will admit that I was not focused as much as I should have been (blame finals, work, exhaustion, take you pick!) BUT as the discussion continued I began to focus because you have to! The discussion of worldviews, truth, absolutes is critical for today's society--and often I can be too lazy, tired, uninterested to sit up and pay attention.

At the end of the discussion the biggest question that I had (and discussion generates lots of questions!) was where is the freedom of love mentioned? Dr. Kulakov provided a powerful illustration of love and how in being exclusive it is liberating. I wish that this impact of exclusion of other worldviews was mentioned by the authors because I believe that it would have been a far more successful argument for the power of Christ' love. I want to know where the love of Christ--fundamental to the Christian faith (the reason for God saving us, His death on the cross, giving us the Holy Spirit, etc.)? This has been my favorite chapter to date but I am still left wanting to hear more about the power of the Gospel...

Liz David

After wednesday night's discussion, I believe I'm left with more questions and doubts rather than answers. If the authors were applying the term of "worldview" to Colossians, then why did they make so many references in how "worldview" is something that it just is, a view that is of the world rather than something more radical that is not created by the culture at hand? that confused me when the authors were trying to apply this term to what Paul was trying to say in his letter. I understand that the Colossians letter was meant to be counterideological to what the empire was preaching, but for it to be another worldview? i had a hard time dealing with that.

Let's talk about "regime of truths." I must agree with most at the discussion that spoke with how the authors made a poignant point that the biblical text is NOT a regime of truth, but did not follow-up with a substantial argument that would make their claim stronger. I was disapointed in the argument, but definitely did not turn deaf during wednesday night's discussion. Absolutely enjoyed it!

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