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An Incredulity Toward Postmodernism

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From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
(Acts 17.26-27)

If you have never grappled with the question of  why you existence then I envy you.   However, chances are, you have contemplated it at one time or another. We seem to have an innate awareness of something bigger, and an insatiable hunger for metanarrative. Yet in denying this very thing, Lyotard effectively liberated an entire generation from the weight of this question’s burden (more accurately, it was the postmodern misappropriation of Lyotard’s metanarrative… but that’s a topic for another time). All too often, since Lyotard’s masterpiece on the postmodern condition, the question of existence has been met with hostility. “There is no metanarrative”, they claim. “there is no master plan guiding the events of history, there is no purpose”. Modern culture has, in fact, invoked Protagoras and joined him in declaring that man is the measure of all things.

I, for one, embrace the metanarrative offered in Acts 17.26-27. It is this verse that solves the riddle of life’s meaning and unlocks the mystery of my existence. If it is true that God allotted the time of my existence (1974 -?) and the boundaries of the places where I would live (California, Venezuela, Oregon…?) so that I would search for Him, then it turn out that there is a metanarrative. As simple and foolish as it sounds, the metanarrative is none other than this: I am here to search for God, and perhaps grope for Him and find Him. That’s it. There is no master plan for world peace, ending poverty, deporting illegals, universal health care or any other social cause that we devote so much time to.  It is all about the individual before God. Well this sounds pretty good you may say. It turns out that the world does revolve around you. Yes, from God’s perspective this is true. You are intended for greatness, if you would believe in the one who emptied himself for your sake.

Presumably, for most of you reading this, you have already found God. Does this mean that our lives no longer have purpose? After all, salvation isn’t something that we keep on getting right? Having found God . . . now what?

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that I believe there is more to the story.  If we only have one purpose, and that purpose is to find God… why doesn’t He, upon being found, teleport us into his divine presence? It would be rather simple for Him I would think. The answer, I believe, is twofold.

The first reason is that God has a clever way of hiding Himself, even from those of us who have found him. There is so much about God that is shrouded in mystery. I would agree with Pascal in saying that God has given us just enough light to find Him. We can find Him, and yet He is still hidden enough to keep us humble. At the same time, He is always hidden to the extent that those who love the darkness will never find Him.  God has, as it turns out, hidden himself from us so that He is only seen by those who seek Him. Having obtained salvation, there are many plain things about God that I  still do not see because I do not yet have the eyes to see. As I grow closer to Him, and submit my will to His, I begin to see clearly what as always been before me.

Secondly, I believe that we have a responsibility to help others find God. This is woven all through the scriptures and I believe it to be the main reason for our continued existence after having discovered God. He graciously allows us to participate in helping others find Him. We do this by helping others recognize when God is revealing Himself to them- primarily through the conduits of pain and pleasure.

If I have any incredulity at all, it is toward the postmodern condition. Sadly, Lyotard was correct in his diagnosis of the postmodern mind; and God remains eternally hidden from his sight.

5 thoughts on “An Incredulity Toward Postmodernism

  1. Alex

    This is good. This is deep and your use of irony is amazing! But I’m curious about one of your comments. You said that postmodernism misappropriated Lyotard’s concept of metanarrative. What do you think Lyotard meant? I’ve always been taught that he denied metanarrative. Peace bro!

  2. aaron

    I’m glad you caught the irony in the title. I wasn’t sure if many would. As far as that statement, I need to re-read “The Post-Modern Condition” to be certain, but for now I would refer you to the following article. I don’t know if it can be found online. Maybe we can get in touch and I can photo-copy it for you:

    “A Little Story About Metanarratives: Lyotard, Religion, and Postmodernism Revisited,” Faith and Philosophy 18 (2001): 261-276.

  3. Love your site! Thanks for the link, btw. I’ll be linking you asap.

    Great post here — I liked your use of Pascal and also your Kierkegaard-like slant [on meaning: individual from a divine point of view].

    Good stuff! thank you…

  4. Ryan

    Hey Aaron. We kind of already touched on this at work but how do you see the role of the believer and the unbelievers around him? You mentioned to me that you believe the people around you are where they are to find God and that we have a role in that. Can you explain this more to me?

  5. I think I know what discussion you are referring to, but if I miss the mark on your question please let me know.
    If what this passage is saying is true, then I also have to consider that maybe my coworkers have been placed at work so that they too can find God. I could view them working where they are as coincidence… but I don’t think it is. If God allotted the time of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they should live so that they will seek Him, then I have to assume that part of this allotment and establishment of their borders includes the place where they work.
    Now, if God has placed them in the place that they work so that they may seek Him, then all of a sudden my own role at work takes on a different meaning. I’m not there to manage people as my job description says… I am there to as part of God’s plan to help them find Him. The managing people part is just how I pay the bills.
    This is not only true of the people around me at work… but also of those around me at the grocery store, my neighbors and anyone else who I come in contact with.
    Altogether still, it is not I who save them, but God graciously allowing me to participate in bringing others to Him.

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