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On Postmodernity and Interpretation

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  • Stephen Shields
    Matt writes:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2000
      Matt writes:

      <<However, heres what I don't understand. I believe that to a certain
      scripture is relative...and absolutely that it is not infalible or without
      its contradictions. This acknowledgement has been very liberating for me,
      but it is a two-edged sword. Where do you then draw the line of subjective
      and objective data in scripture, and who draws it? If Hell can be a
      metaphor, than divinity can be too. Christ didn't have to really BE God as
      man (or rise from the dead), it could simply be a metaphor for the
      indwelling of God's energy within all mankind as a sort of Eastern
      perspective on enlightened non-dual bliss. Once subjectivity becomes the
      rule, interpretive freedom allows the displacement of a lot of things which
      make our faith problematic, but also make the faith...the faith. I don't
      know if its possible to mix a little post-modern relativism into the picture
      without ultimately undercutting all but the subjective opinion on who, what,
      or why God is. Like I said, to me its the A-bomb of rational thinking.>>

      I don't agree with all of this but some good comments! The key here is your

      <<Once subjectivity becomes the rule>>

      Quite correct. But - as many critics of radical postmodernists have
      written - even postmodern writers wish for you to take *their* comments as
      true and at face value. They would be horrified if you suggested to them
      that you interpreted their writings that there is one absolute truth that is
      non-contestable, but they would also be incapable of appealing to any
      standard of interpretation to deny your statement!

      The key solution - of course - is that subjectivity cannot be *the rule.*
      It is - nevertheless - a consideration, in at least two ways.

      Way #1 - If you find my writing boring, it seems to take you forever to read
      my e-mails (if you finish them at all). If you find me brilliantly
      scintillating, then the seconds fly by. But my quartz watch vibrates at a
      constant rate per second. I.e. The subjective apprehension of truth does
      not negate its objectivity.

      Way #2 - We have to consider the circumstance of the writer, his or her
      subjective orientation - in discerning the meaning of the text.

      Postmodernity is the A-Bomb of a thoroughgoing commitment to the ability of
      the mind to discern all truth, but it does not hinder One from speaking and
      clearly on many points (though mysteriously on other points).

      Stephen Shields
      Cedar Ridge Community Church
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