Reclaiming the Past / Imagining a Future: Revisionary Postmodernism

March 15th, 2010 / 95 Comments

The final postmodern tradition of the four I identify as most prominent may prove most helpful for Christians in our emerging world.  It revisions reality by drawing from a wide spectrum of resources.

Growing a beautiful garden is an art.  Exceptional gardeners draw from a wealth of wisdom to nurture their plants to survive and thrive.  Some elements of garden growing are nonnegotiable: seeds, water, nutrients, sunlight.  Other elements arise from tried and true methods that, while not necessary, have been proven time and again to produce beautiful gardens.  And the best gardeners seek novel gardening insights and resources that enhance their horticultural husbandry.  After all, even the art of gardening changes.

Similar to good gardeners, revisionary postmodernists identify the nonnegotiables of life, draw from past wisdom, and incorporate novel ideas as they propose a credible postmodern worldview.

Like other postmodern traditions, revisionary postmodernism overcomes or transcends features of modernism.  But revisionary postmodernism also criticizes other postmodern traditions.  The remainder of this essay sketches out some features of revisionary postmodernism.

Constructing a New Worldview —

Revisionary postmodernists accept the project of constructing a worldview adequate for our time. In this, they distinguish themselves from deconstructionists. Espousing some worldview or another is inescapable. Instead of fooling ourselves, say revisionists, we should propose a worldview that seems best to account for life in all its dimensions.

Revisionary postmodernists reject, however, the idea that we have a certain center or sure foundation upon which to build. Our worldviews will always be “on the way,” partial, and in need of further revision. We must always be prepared to recast, generalize, and adapt a postmodern worldview to new experiences and information. Revisionary postmodernist seek to do so with humility. Know-it-alls need not apply.

Revisionary postmodernists accept the task of constructing a worldview adequate for our time. Click To Tweet

Embracing those at the Margins –

Modernity failed to consider the experiences of those at the margins (e.g., women, ethnic minorities).  It failed to account for animal experience. And it failed to consider the essential role of divine action or providence.  These and other modern failures resulted in the loss of a holistic perspective on reality. 

The worldview revisionary postmodernists offer is intended to account for the voices of those at the margins and the mainstream.  Revisionists seek to account for a variety of sensibilities, including religious, scientific, ecological, liberationist, economic, and aesthetic.  They seek a story big enough and adequate enough to include everyone.  This story appreciates and promotes diversity and difference. The “other” is not reduced to the self.  Discerning tolerance is a moral imperative, and wisdom with regard to difference is crucial.

Revisionary Postmodernism appreciates and promotes diversity and difference. Click To Tweet

The Limits of Language –

Revisionary postmodernists share to a large degree the deconstructionist’s suspicion of language.  Language is slippery, even if often helpful and necessary.

Revisionary postmodernists argue, however, that language is not the only or even the most important lens on reality.  Rather, experience is prior to and more basic than language.  In fact, most experience is nonlinguistic.

Experiential Nonnegotiables —

When constructing a worldview, we should privilege those beliefs that we inevitably presuppose in our experience.  These beliefs are the bottom layer of experience we all share.  These beliefs include the idea that some things are better than others, the notion that we are free to some degree, the notion that an external world exists beyond us, the idea that some events are caused by others, etc.  We inevitably presuppose various beliefs in our day-to-day living.  I call these beliefs “experiential nonnegotiables.”

Revisionary postmodernist, David Ray Griffin, calls these inevitable beliefs, “hard-core commonsense notions.”  We cannot help presupposing these notions in the way we live our lives, he says. We are guilty of self-contradiction if we adopt a theory or worldview that denies them.  Any scientific, philosophical, or theological theory is irrational to the extent that it contradicts whatever notions we inevitably presuppose in practice.[1]  Common sense counts.

Any theory is irrational to the extent that it contradicts what we inevitably presuppose in practice. Click To Tweet

Overcoming Relativism –

I noted in earlier blog posts that some postmodern traditions result in radical relativism – either individual or communal.  Deconstructive postmodernism is most prone to extreme relativism. Some postmodern traditions reject any basis for believing that one worldview corresponds to all of reality better than others do.

The experiential nonnegotiables of revisionary postmodernism, however, allow one to overcome radical relativism.  These notions are features of existence we all share.  In affirming this, revisionary postmodernism continues the premodern and modern conviction that at least some universal standards exist.

Ways of Knowing –

Revisionary postmodernists join feminists in arguing that knowledge is not confined to logic or facts obtained through our five senses. It affirms the view of Michael Polanyi that personal knowledge must play a role in our attempts to make sense of the world.

Knowledge in revisionary postmodernism typically resides between certainty about absolutes and the disarray of relativism. Catherine Keller suggests that the middle ground between absolute and relative is the postmodern virtue of being resolute.

The middle ground between absolute and relative is the postmodern virtue of being resolute. Click To Tweet

Ecology and Purpose-

Revisionary postmodernists agree with ecological postmodernists that living things are more than mindless machines.  Creaturely freedom, purpose, and intentionality are real.  All creatures possess intrinsic value.  Many revisionary postmodernists also adopt the theory of theistic evolution, because it affirms a necessary place both God and evolution in an adequate explanation of creation.  One can affirm both the main contours of contemporary science and the belief that God originally and continually creates.

Revisionary postmodernists believe that living things are more than mindless machines. Click To Tweet

Centrality of Community –

Revisionary postmodernists agree with narrative postmodernists that creatures are not isolated individuals.  Community is essential.  An adequate postmodern worldview speculates that all creatures — both human and nonhuman — are interrelated.  We live in a relational world, and who we are is largely determined by our relations with others.  With the Apostle Paul, revisionists argue that we are members of one body.

We must affirm a necessary role both for the individual and community, argue revisionists.  Humans might best be called “community-created-individuals” or “individuals-in-community.”  Bono of U2 says it well:  “We’re one, but we’re not the same.”

Revisionary postmodernists agree with the conclusion Bono draws from this insight: “We’ve got to carry each other.”  We are designed for community, and our individual well-being is caught up in and largely dependent upon the well-being of the whole.

Humans might best be called “community-created-individuals” or “individuals-in-community.” Click To Tweet

Progress is Possible but not Inevitable –

Modernists celebrated what they thought would be the triumphant march of science to make the world a better place.  They often equated advances in technology with overall progress in making the world better.  Full-speed-ahead is always right, say modernists.

Modern “progress” has caused so much unnecessary destruction, however.  E. E. Cummings called progress a “comfortable disease.”  It’s a disease wreaking havoc on humans, nonhumans, and all of planet earth.  Like other postmodern traditions, revisionary postmodernism denies that progress is inevitable or that technology always results in good.

Revisionists believe that genuine progress is possible, however.  We are not doomed to the same old self-destructive rut.  Transformation can occur.

Revisionary postmodernists join narrative postmodernists by looking to ancient resources for wisdom about how best to proceed into the future.  But they are also open to emergent insights that might help facilitate the experience of abundant life.  John Wesley’s optimism of grace fits the revisionary mindset: “the best is yet to be.”  Progress toward a better world is possible by divine grace and proper creaturely responses.

Progress is possible but not inevitable. Click To Tweet

God –

An important plank in revisionary postmodernism is its doctrine of God. Revisionary postmodernists reject the modern tendency to think God could be completely comprehended. We see through a glass darkly.  But it also rejects absolute negative theology and the utter silence of apophatic theology. We know in part.

Revisionists are in many ways premodern in their beliefs, because they affirm that God is actual, active, and interacting in the world.  God really lives and truly loves.

God really lives and truly loves. Click To Tweet

Revisionary postmodernists often call God “relational” to account for the give-and-receive relationships God enjoys with others. The invisible Spirit works in all creation, and we have direct access to this Spirit. Our nonsensory interaction with God and sensory inferences from nature provide awareness of right and wrong, true and false, beautiful and ugly. For in God we live and move and have our being.

Many revisionary postmodernists look to doctrines of the Trinity to ground their emphasis upon divine relatedness.  Others focus upon the relational God who by nature relates with all creation. God is not unmoved.

Revisionary postmodernists argue that beliefs about God should not be relegated to their own domain while beliefs about the world function without reference to God. We cannot neatly separate the secular and the sacred.  A revisionary postmodern worldview reserves an essential place for both creatures and the Creator.  The interaction of God and creation is central to understanding reality.  Some call this view “panentheism.”  Others call it “participation” or “cooperation.”  I like the word “theocosmocentrism.”

Revisionary postmodernism reserves an essential place for both creatures and the Creator. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

We live in a new world.  Postmodernism reminds us of that.  Revisionary postmodernism promotes the task of constructing a new worldview to account for truths in the widest range of experience. It places God and creation front and center.

The philosopher-poet-environmentalist, Wendell Berry, warns that in this new world “we have reached a point at which we must either consciously desire and choose and determine the future of the earth or submit to such an involvement in our destructiveness that the earth, and ourselves with it, must certainly be destroyed.”[2]  Berry’s prophetic words beckon us to reckon with our past, our present, and our possible future.

Many revisionary postmodernists agree with Berry.  Some dare to hope that a better way of thinking and acting is now possible.  But this better way must involve being, acting, and thinking differently.

Revisionary postmodernism accounts for truth in the widest range of experience. Click To Tweet

 


[1] David Ray Griffin, Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001).

[2] Wendell Berry, “The Loss of the Future,” in The Long-Legged House (New York: Harcourt, 1969), 46.

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Comments

tripp fuller

awesome.  this is my kind of PoMo!


Bo

I love it. I never knew there was such an accurate description of the way I’ve been thinking under the influence of of guys like Jack Caputo- and I’ve even read Derrida this way (mostly). Besides David Ray Griffin, are there any thinkers out there who are uniquely postmodern revisionists? Thanks for taking the time to flesh this out.


Bob Hunter

Tom,

I’m not sure of where you are coming from on the use of the term apophatic.  You said, “But it also rejects absolute negative theology and the utter silence of apophatic theology. We know in part.”

My understanding of apophatic is not that it is absolutely negative though there are expressions within apopthatic spirituality that are. The apophatic outlook asserts that while God cannot be grasped entirely by concepts, he can be grasped by love (Cloud of Unknowing p. 50).  There is also a great deal of emphasis on the heart and its union with God that in turn makes us more fully human.  So there are some positive aspects of apophatic spirituality. 

So all this to say, depending on one’s understanding of the whole apophatic/katophatic tension, I believe there is the potential for some expressions of apophatic spirituality to be consistent with revisionary post modernism and even Wesleyanism for that matter.  I was just struck by the characterization of apophatic being absolutely negative, when my understanding of it is not so.


A.D. Knapp

I’m not sure ecological postmodernism escapes “modernist” methodologies of thinking, in that it still makes very specific moral claims. Even though it undermines other well accepted claims, it is still specific in its goal and invokes a kind of progress.  Of course, the term should not be equivocated on, but it does seem difficult to distinguish the movement from earlier movements in such a way that we are specific when we say “revisionist postmodern progress”.


Katie Thompson

I am quite inspired to further my interaction with other discourse. “Our worldviews will always be “on the way,” partial, and in need of further revision.”  This statement is both wise, and bit frightening to most. With globalization uniting the world’s religions and schools of thought we must be prepared to humbly submit our opinions to revision. This is the only true way to effectively inter into discussion.


Thomas Jay Oord

Talitha Edwards responds…

I like how this treats experience in that it includes the community within the role of experience. Without a strong community with which to help balance experience it is to easy for someone to get off on the wrong track theologically. Although one could argue that a community could as a whole get off on the wrong track together, though that is far less likely than an individual doing so.

Talitha Edwards


B. Dockum

Dr. Oord brushes broad strokes to concisely but adequately paint the portrait of “revisionary postmodernism” – a well organized approach at describing his well thought out worldview. Drawing from David Ray Griffin and others he describes a belief system that I think will be attractive to many in our modern time.

I applaud the well worded explanation of the rejection of radical relativism to show that “at least some universal standards exist.” For so many in churches, the word postmodern is understood to necessarily be inseparable from radical relativism, and this explanation does a good job of addressing this fear.


David W. Ching

Our worldview changes as much as our thoughts do.  For that matter, the worldview we have changes as much as we physically do each moment of every day in every experience we have.  I like to think of these changes as taking a picture of ourselves each day or taking a picture of your child every day (try it and you will see).  We or our children change daily and more times than not they/we change more than once a day.  I started one year with my son and took a picture of him daily.  As I reflected back on these pictures, I noticed how he was changing each time I took a picture: from mood, to physical appearance and awareness.  I believe that our worldview if we could take a picture of it each day would look no different (we would see the change visually even if we chose to blindly say otherwise).  With that being said, we must have a worldview that is not stuck in the moment but willing to change with the moment.  And in these pictures of us and our worldview of change, God should be photo bombing us because I believe, “God is actual, active, and interacting” (Dr. Oord’s Blog) in our lives.


Nicholas Carpenter

I do agree that we are in need of a “revisionary” look at theology, ministry, and the world in general. Times are changing, and people are looking for what modernity could not offer. That being said, the greatest strength of this Revisionary Postmodernism is humility. When working as a diverse and interdisciplinary concept that looks not only to the future but past for inspiration, revisionary postmodernism could have quite the leg-up on its forbearers by humbly looking in multiple areas of interest/study (both familiar and unfamiliar) to find what would be best for everyone’s future. Overall, this sounds like a great idea, and hopefully with the right hearts and minds behind it will bring about an optimistic future for all people.


Buford Edwards

While I appreciate the openness of the revisionary postmodern view and what it is trying to accomplish, I have to ask why do we need to reinvent the wheel?  The wheel was never broken but rather we have abused the wheel for so long, not caring for it, it has become cracked, broken, and unstable.  Instead of rejecting the “idea that we have a certain center or sure foundation upon which to build,” why would they not accept the foundation that Christ built in love?  Just because someone rejects an idea, does not make it go away, and I would argue that we do have a foundation and center, that being Jesus Christ.  However, I do understand and acknowledge that this is a worldview in which religion is just one aspect. 

I do like the revisionary postmodern approach to include those living “on the margins.”  Any worldview that excludes these groups is suspect in my opinion, as having validity.  I also support the revisionary view of the “centrality of community,” and the “interrelatedness” of the world.  Finally, I also think the revisionary postmodern view of God being “relational” is spot on and a fact that should be understood and realized by the masses.


Leslie Oden

Greetings,
Overall I agree with you Dr. Oord. It seems as though Revisionary Postmodernism encompasses: community, inclusions, diversity as well as some aspects of the relational perspective.  Revisionary Postmodernism accounts for all living beings, and the diversity experienced in life. The optimism that Revisionary Postmodernism provides is refreshing. I agree whole heartedly that “progress toward a better world is possible by divine grace and proper creaturely responses.”


Brian Troxell

We live in a post-modern world. I don’t think there is much disputing that. It seems to affect the way that we think about all aspects of the world….how it began…how it functions today…even how it will all end.

In the puzzle of post-modernism, one of the pieces that Dr. Oord mentioned was the tension between language and experience. It would certainly be non-sensical to allow language to override experience, but I wonder about the slippery slope that could quickly ensue. It seems that the next extreme step would be to toss out language completely and thus remove the centrality of Scripture all-together. This just doesn’t seem far off.

The puzzle piece that I am most drawn to is the one about community. I can see the value and necessity of it. I am surrounded by more and more people who are drawing away from community in the name of Jesus. They are leaving the church and are “experiencing” Jesus at home. I woner, as well, how much the aspect of social media is encouraging this exodus. What I mean by that is that could be possible that the facade of social media as a community could be allowing them to walk away. In other words, they feel they are covered here because they are on Facebook or whatever.

I am very much liking the fact that we never lose the power to choose. I know that my freewill is in tact and that I can participate in relationship with God.


Raquel Pereira

Making sense of life is one of humanity’s essential quests (if not the most important one). In addressing that, the perspective of revisionary postmodernism, as presented in this article, is very appealing in that it is inclusive not only of the present, but also the past and the future. 
Allowing the deconstruction of ill-founded assumptions this view aims at construction, by identifying “nonnegotiables of life” and looking at life as a whole (not compartmentalized).  In doing so it acknowledges the essential role of God and God’s activity in the world, but also creation’s freedom (human and nonhuman) in choosing between bad and good, and even between good and best. With creation’s contribution to the overall comes diversity, where humility, tolerance and wisdom are practical attitudes to be fostered.
From the past comes the wisdom that creatures are to live in community. Their individual existence only makes sense in the context of community. Articulating this in a seemingly new way, the individuals’ purpose in life is better understood relationally and how it affects the “well-being of the whole” (which does not reject per se the well-being of the individual). This relational feature comes from the Creator, whose personhood is founded on love. Because God is love, God relates with creation; which God influences, and affects God in a give-take relationship. 
This perspective is very appealing, particularly as it is here unfolded. Through it life makes sense as it is a dynamic journey where God and creation are the main participants interacting relationally, and contributing to the well-being of all involved.


Tara West

Revisionary Postmodernism offers a more relevant and truly human approach to understanding the world. Some of the ideas that impressed me were: 1).common sense is a part of Revisionary Postmodernism; 2). People and the world are viewed holistically; 3).There are actual universal truths and standards; 4). All of creation is appreciated and recognized with value; 5). There is hope for this world, for people, to be transformed and improved; 6). We need each other to be strong as individuals and in community; 7). There is a balance between knowing and not knowing; 8). God is relational and interacts with all of creation – the sacred and secular are not separate.
All of the above thoughts lead me to believe there is much about Revisionary Postmodernism that is positive.  There will be more changes in the future, of course, but this is a worldview for now, grounded in what we know now but open to whatever the future holds.


Phil Michaels

“Revisionary postmodernism promotes the task of constructing a new worldview to account for truths in the widest range of experience. It places God and creation front and center.” I remember writing a number of years ago that we need to ‘deconstruct’ *and* ‘reconstruct.’ There *are* things that we can be ‘resolute’ about in the way we think, live, and love. The most important thing, I think, in this, is that we allow for the necessary time and space for reconstruction to take place. I think some would have us immediately reconstruct after deconstruction, panicked that there must be a foundation, and right now. Sometimes, though, I think we need to survey the landscape for a while with the pile of rubble around us, and contemplate how we think things ought to be, before we get going too quickly on the process of reconstruction. If we are patient, what we do build will be something that can last, yet be flexible and adaptable to changing contexts.


Angela Lerena

This is nicely paired with Clayton’s reading this week. The main feature is that we all need to be able to think critically about what we believe, and how those beliefs affect our actions. As we have talked about before, we can believe something without having it change us. We can believe in Scripture, in Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension , but if we are not moved past this, then what is the point? Postmodernist are tired of this black and white idea. Churches that will be successful are going to have to bridge this gap between one extreme to the other. For postmodernist, it does not seem to be a question of preference, but rather of insistence. Without this the church won’t move forward. I think some churches will adapt to this new way of thinking while others will eventually fade. We are headed into something entirely new, yet not unfounded, and I am excited to be a part of it.


Tony

The greatest thing that is coming out of postmodernism is the reconnection to community. Humans, bearing the image of God, were created to live life together as a community. When Christ formed the church he calls together a community of believers. However, as I write this I cannot tell you who my next-door neighbors are. Sure, I have seen them from time to time. I have even spoken to one of them once, but please do not ask me to tell you their names. It seems as if modernity has played a part in causing us isolation from one another. My question is simply this, if as an American culture we are individualistic, and the postmodern worldview is built on experiential community, what is this going to do to the future of American society? There will have to be a great shift in attitudes and behaviors, but there is a chance that we will be able to call each other neighbors.


David A.

One of the most interesting things about a revisionist approach to postmodernity is its hybrid aspects. Hard core relativistic postmodernity (a la Derrida) reject that anything is knowable for certain, or that even if something is known, it cannot be reliably communicated between speaker and listener. But a revisionist approach wants to affirm things that are really able to be experienced, either directly, or indirectly. Revisionist approaches let us ascend into community rather than descend into isolation, unable to trust the communications with others. It is for this positivity that I think it affirms a holistic worth and priority to all of creation that looks the most like a “good” creation that the Creator made.
In the end, I am not satisfied with a deconstructive approach to theology and philosophy. I think there is an innate human tendency to want to build and improve not to just tear down and leave in ruins. There will always be the few who, not able to be content with incomplete beauty, will choose destruction instead. But if I am looking at a God who created, who creates, and who will create again in the future, I am looking at one who is always looking to turn ashes into beauty and a revisionist postmodernity envisions this very well.


Don Smith

There are several pieces of this blog that give some hope and understanding to this postmodern world we are now in. A couple of things that caught my attention , first being “discerning tolerance.” I appreciate this term in it brings to mind an openness to other perspectives that many time we might dismiss because of our prejudices, but it also allows for our experiences, our past, our knowledge to play a factor in what ways we tolerate any given perspective. Then the thought of “progress is possible but not inevitable, speaks to so many of the things of the past that have gone terribly wrong, or at least to how many people have taken something that was created or good and used it for evil. The EE Cummings quote, “Progress is a comfortable disease,” makes one think, especially in the west anyway, of how we view progress in accordance with our comforts, all the while some may be destroying the world we live in.
But this piece also shares the hope we have in God and His grace. It was put , “Devine grace and proper creaturely responses.” as this postmodern world once again takes a look back to the God that created it, and the grace He extends we have a choice. We can choose to change and take responsibility for all of creation or we can choose to ignore and continue to our demise. Seems like an easy choice, just not easy solutions, but with God all things are possible.


Francis Mwansa

Reading this blog inspires me allot because it challenges me to think beyond my comfort zone especially as we live in the era of globalization. No person is an Island and we all depend upon each other. Post modernity has given birth to globalization which has seen the world uniting together in the quest for human development. The need to step out of the ring and join the band wagon cannot be ignored in this age if we have to survive. The world is changing and therefore human beings cannot afford to embrace the status quo. Sometimes I wonder, if people who lived one hundred years ago could come back in to this world, they could be lost, because the world has made giant steps from where it was to this very day.

Frank


Cezi

This is the first time I have heard about Revisionary Postmodernism. This was a great introduction to it. It sounds a lot like the metamodernism. I don’t know though if metamoderns believe in non negotiable. They also are inclusive because they recognize that each individual, independent from their background has something to offer to the truth

Our worldviews will always be “on the way,” partial, and in need of further revision.” What a great challenge for the people in the church to accept this form of thinking. This requires for Christians to always search for better understanding of God and the world. This pushes the church to embrace humbleness and review it passion in relationship to other religions.


Cassy Wynn

I found this article very interesting. I am very new to studying and understanding post modernism and all terms that come along with it. This article has sparked my interest and now I am interested in doing further research on these ideas. I must say that the paragraphs regarding community really resonated with me. I can definitely agree that though we are all one we are definitely all different.


Sarah Dupray

The postmodern culture is often looked at in a negative light. This post helps us to see how we can overcome the negatives and capitalize on the positives. One of the positives of the postmodern culture is the sense of community that the postmodern culture holds important. Another area that postmodernists find important is the marginalized. “The worldview revisionary postmodernists offer is intended to account for the voices of those at the margins and the mainstream.” Revisionary postmodernists take the negative and rethink it to the positive.


Michael O’Neill

Thank for you this helpful overview of “revisionary postmodernism” and the difference between it and other forms of postmodernism. This wholistic approach gives greater optimism for the transition than destructionism, for sure. I agree that we cannot separate the secular and the sacred. Anything God is involved in is sacred. As Wesleyans, we can say that between God’s creativity and prevenient grace, everything in creation should be considered sacred.
You mention in “Overcoming Relativism,” “these notions are features of existence we all share.” Even if we can agree that we all share these notions of existence, there is still the problem of “why” – why we think those notions are there. Some would assign differing metaphysical reasons for those notions, others might assign biological or bio-psychological or social reasons. And this gets back to each person’s or community’s or culture’s metanarrative. I’m confused (and confess my ignorance): at times it sounds like RPM’s (Revisionary PostModernists) reject a metanarrative “(RPM’s) reject, however, the idea that we have a certain center or sure foundation upon which to build,” and other times as if RPM’s are searching for one: “We should propose a worldview that seems best to account for life in all its dimensions.”


Aneel Mall

I enjoyed reading the blog and especially the “big tent” view that “revisionary postmodernism” also seems to encourage. I also like the concept of “discerning tolerance is a moral imperative, and wisdom with regards to difference is crucial”, this shows that love takes precedence even though there maybe differences in theological views. I think the confusion for me came from the phrase “Revisionary postmodernists identify the nonnegotiable of life” and another phrase “revisionary postmodernists reject, however the idea that we have a certain center or sure foundation upon which to build”. Are not most nonnegotiable of life made on a “sure foundation” that are unchangeable?


Jim Cendrowski

Although I love this post and the idea of a revisionist postmodernism, I still see a vital importance fpr deconstruction postmodernism. The thoughts of deconstructionist postmodernism help me like a bandage that you need to rip off quickly. I was ready for reframing of my worldview and faith. When first introduced to a deconstructionist postmodernity, it helped me put words to things I felt but couldn’t express. The ideas and worldview that modernity left me and the church for that matter, was no longer sufficient for the new world that was unfolding. I spent what I would say several years in the deconstruction mode before I saw the absolute need for revision. The idea of revisionist postmodernity is helpful in the reconstruction of a worldview that wasn’t all wrong or bad, just needed reworked and revised. If you are constantly deconstructing, with what are you left. Deconstruction needs to end and a rebuilding or reworking needs to begin. Again, as we rebuild and rework our view of the world, we may find that onl revisions need to be in order to better see and interact with the world in which we now live.


Chris Nikkel

I have known many postmodernists that claim truth is relative to the one holding the truth. Truth for one person may be different for another. We may look at things differently and have different perspectives, but what is simply is what is. We need to be careful about what we claim as absolute, but the same is true for saying nothing is absolute. If two things cancel each other out and both are claimed to be true then at least one is false.

The claim to not have a worldview nor to believe in consistent truth is false. One will lean on what they know whether it is on the forefront of their mind or hidden. Then idea to then come up with a “big tent” worldview that encompasses all of life is refreshing.


Rich Evans

I found this blog article to be very informative. The part of the article that jumped out to me is the fact that our worldviews will always be in need of further revision. This is huge point that is being made in the blog article considering that many within the church seem to get stuck in their theological mindsets and aren’t willing to budge. I think it is important to be willing to be open to allowing our worldviews to be stretched and probed in order to reach an ever-changing world. In addition our everyday experience also seems to help shape this new mindset in order to move us away from simply believing we know it all. I also love the fact that a sense of being in community is critical to how we, as the church are going to help others experience and discover a living an active God. This would also challenge those with the church to humbly step forward and take the time to learn about different religious faiths in order to better communicate the Gospel. My only fear is that moving towards this type of mindset, if not balanced with one’s proper understanding so scripture will leave us open to becoming soft on important doctrines within the Christian faith. Much to think about and process considering this subject is really new to my understanding.


Rosanne McMath

After reading this blog I am more confused than when I started – nothing seems to stay the same! Language changes, ideology changes, language about ideology changes, man’s theology changes – whew! Thank God that He never changes and I can hold on to the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am not saying that God is unmoved or unmoving. He is loving and compassionate towards His creation and has a great deal of patience and mercy towards humanity’s flippant attitudes and actions. He is relational and involved in the affairs of humanity and the world in which we live. Thankfully God is a community within himself and never changing. Therefore, God is the only constant I can hold on to in an ever changing world.


jennifer glover

I am motivated to learn more about this topic. There is much truth in the statement that we spend our lives understanding and expanding our worldview. I understand a basic picture of postmodernism. I am very curious how this idea is expressing itself in other parts of the world and in religious contexts outside of American Christianity. With the opinion and understanding that we are learning more each day I believe we are able to enter into a conversation with those who see differently and at the same time stick to what we know is truth.


Sarah Brubaker

I think it’s interesting that all of these points that revisionary postmodernists argue as key are things that Scripture places value in as well. And the church can learn something from these things and can bridge the gap between the church and culture in many of these things.

The church has been very hesitant to “construct a new worldview,” but if we can do this, if we can construct a worldview where Jesus is the center and others are respected and loved and treated with dignity, we might be on our way to connecting to our communities. The same goes for “embracing those at the margins.” If we look at Jesus’ ministry, especially in Luke, this is what he did and this is why many people who study him now appreciate him as a historical and moral figure, regardless of whether they see him as King. The idea of experience as knowledge is found in scripture as well as Jesus says that people must know (or experience) him to see the Father. “Ecology” is something that is close to the Creator’s heart and is available for His worship and so we should be good stewards of these things. Community should be key for the church in the way that we love each other and provide for each other. Acts 2 paints a beautiful picture of what God’s design for the church originally looked like. And finally, the idea that “progress is possible but not inevitable” should be convicting for the church. We believe that all mankind are doomed by our sin nature, but Jesus has offered a way to be reconciled and put at peace regardless of this. This is not something that we have to do, but something that we can do and something that we can be a part of. It is not inevitable that this will happen without the church taking responsibility for what it needs to and loving the world the way that Jesus did when he was humiliated, separated from the Father and put to death.

I think we as the church can learn much from revisionary postmoderns.


Jon Thompson

My initial response to “revisionary postmodernism” is why do we need to rework or rethink our worldview. Though this is my initial reaction, I already know the answer. As we approach our own individual worldview, we understand that our experiences dictate how we approach others. Though I may say I believe in God, my worldview determines how I decide to share the experience of God with others and/or even how I communicate that experience.

Within the ideal of missional theology, we must widen our view point to acknowledge that God’s grasp is not limited. Therefore should ours?

I have enjoyed the comprehensive review of the philosophical thinkers and how they are transforming a segment of our society, that could be on the leading edge. Yet that is greatly determined by how far we desire to share God’s love with those we interact with daily.


Barry

What gives me solace in a world of ever-changing theological perspectives is the love of Jesus and his ability through the Spirit to transform lives. I get scared when I read about a “new” revisionary mindset that will pave the way to a better future. All we have to do is wait another 20 years and we will have the revision of the revision. I have experienced everything being promised by the revisionary postmoderns in my mission travels around the world. Jesus causes community to happen, it is part of a relational God. Jesus causes people to respect creation and gives them a desire to be better stewards. Jesus compels us to be kind to all people, that is what grace does. I have lived and witnessed this for decades. Maybe we just need more of Jesus and not some new “revision” of the Gospel?


Brad Thompson

Nazarene’s are well positioned for the postmodern culture. As Dr. Oord noted, postmodern revisionist care for those on the margins, equality, and justice. As Nazarene’s “enter into solidarity” with the poor, lost and hopeless they additionally identify with a postmodern culture. The key for Nazarene’s and Wesleyan’s alike is becoming a people who sink their identity in tradition and roots. These denominations and movements started out a caring for the least of these. Regaining original focus is key if we intend to lead the way in a postmodern culture.


Janet Grosskopf

This is very interesting in that it is about reconstructing the thinking and finding a way to revision our world view and find a deeper more closely revision view of God and the world he created. it is time to not be stuck in the same thoughts simply because we believe its what we should do, or mom and dad said so. It must become our beliefs and not our wagon we are riding on mindlessly following so we do not have to own it or do the work to find the truth for ourselves. Much like the reading this week it is a must to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because then it means something to us instead of being handed down to us like its our dinner.


Kevin York

“Revisionary postmodernists agree with the conclusion Bono draws from this insight: ‘We’ve got to carry each other.’ We are designed for community, and our individual well-being is caught up in and largely dependent upon the well-being of the whole” (Oord). For most pure constitutionalists or capitalists this sounds like a purely socialist statement. At the same time, this statement rings true. I believe that when we focus not just on ourselves, but upon community it creates an atmosphere of loving openness. I also believe that it helps foster within us the want to loving, holy, and relational.
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Oord, Thomas Jay. “Reclaiming the Past/Imagining a Future.” 15 March 2010. Thomas Jay Oord. Web. 10 December 2015.


Leon Drake

I appreciate the comment “revisionists are in many ways premodern”. The ideas that God is actual, alive, and interacting in the world have been lost on many. With poor theology clouded by ineffective ideas (such as God never changes), people have faced difficult questions in life with no answers (or bad ones). The man who cannot understand why God did not give him a job to the woman who tries to find God in light of the death of a child tend to either blame God for their circumstances or reject that God even exists. As we have progressed in our understanding of life and the world (e.g. randomness), we find some of the traditional views of God incongruent with our experience.

But we should not throw out the baby with the bath water (no disrespect intended). There are traditional ideas of God that are solid and should not be abandoned. First, that God actually exists. While I believe most people in the world believe that there is some god, I am not so confident that they believe in the God of scripture. However, I think it goes beyond just believing God exists. God is interacting with us. God is not enslaved to us but God is connected with us. When we begin to understand what God can and probably more important, cannot, do; we will more clearly see the results of God’s activity. We will not blame God for evil (something God cannot do) and will give God glory for the good we have received (Romans 8:28).


Bill Segur

Much like the example you started off with in your Blog of Growing a Beautiful Garden and how some things are nonnegotiable, such as seeds, water, nutrients, and sunlight. However, you go onto mention that over time new elements arise that may or may not produce beautiful gardens. It is still simply that the best gardeners look for new innovative ideas because as you point out , even gardening changes over time.

Then you mention “revisionary postmodernists” and how they are similar to good gardeners when identifying nonnegotiable of our lives and incorporate innovative ideas while searching for a postmodern worldview. That makes sense, just as in our class some of the ideas of “essential kenosis” made some of us struggle because they were new to each of us, so to knew ideas that deconstructs postmodern ideas and starts to reconstruct the new ideas over time. Of course there are going to be some barriers that need to be overcome, but that is in anything that people are not comfortable or content with. People do not always like to be stretched in the areas of their traditions. But in order to move forward sometimes that just has to happen. Not all change is bad, of course not all change is good either. We walk a fine line here. It will be interesting to see where this leads me now.

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Donnamie Ali

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is reputed to have said that nothing is as constant as change. This blog reminds us that since everything around us is changing, then new worldviews must emerge. The garden analogy was instructive. What can be as old as gardening? But those who are both wise and good always seek to become better so they look for new techniques.
Revisionary post modernism is a new way of thinking that embraces those who have been marginalized. It’s an all-inclusive worldview that allows ‘other’ voices to be heard. Very often whole groups of people feel disenfranchised by the very society that is supposed to nurture them. They look on and experience the ‘left-behind’ feeling associated with those considered second best or those not even considered at all. This viewpoint promises to incorporate women and ethnic minorities, thus empowering them to voice their particular concerns.
The promotion of God as relational will find an answering echo in today’s world. The younger generation is increasingly independent, yet desires above all things to have close relationships with a significant other or a particular group. God is not watching from a distance as the Bette Midler song says. God is right here with hands outstretched
Donnamie


LAURETTA MARKET

The most salient point made in this blog, is that God is alive, relates to the world and truly loves. That message of love, God’s love, is the message that our postmodern world needs to hear. It is a message that was sent into the world loud and clear more than two thousand years ago, with the birth of Jesus Christ. Divine relatedness is demonstrated by a God who by nature relates with all creation. There truly is room for the Creator within all of creation. Constructing a postmodern view that seeks to tell a big story, appreciative of diversity, inclusive of language and experience, is not an easy task. Yet, it is one that if done well will create a vision for the beautiful garden designed for relational love to exist in abundance.

Common sense does tell us that living beings are much more than mindless machines. Creaturely freedom, purpose and intentionality are real. Creatures do possess intrinsic value. Science is beginning to prove out that God did originally create and life on earth continues to adapt (evolve?).

Another piece of essential common sense is that we all have a need for community. God’s inherent design for community is for our well-being and the well-being for the whole. Progress is a possibility but not a guarantee, after all humanity is involved. Transformation can occur. John Wesley provided great wisdom in his statement “the best is yet to be”. We are capable of responding to divine grace. We cannot fully understand the fullness of God, yet we can know and experience that God is alive and interacting right here, right now in the world. God and all of creation should be front and center. There is a better way of thinking and acting. It is in concert with God. It is the way of love.


Michael Poole

The idea that God cannot be comprehended is one of the ideas I am most certain of in this revisionary postmodern ideology. Though I am not sure that many of the other theologies would proclaim that God could be fully comprehended either. What I am seeing in this theology is yet another nuance of God for us to consider as we work toward a more clear picture of who he is. Are the more traditional theologies less right than this one? What there a time when they were more right? I am learning that in our progression through differing theologies, we learn what we need to know about God within our modern context, but we do not learn about him totally. What theology will be next? Will it be embraced or criticized? It is hard to say.
Thankfully God, in his very nature, does not change with the extreme degree that our theologies do. Perhaps, in the end, we will find that there is a little right and little wrong in most theologies. When we stand in his presence, when the cloudy glass we look through is cleared up, it is likely we will all be surprised at the theology that God endorses.


Will Albright

This sounds absurdly obvious: it is imperative that any worldview take reality seriously. Yet, there is a sense that most worldviews do not account well for reality. Their focus seems to be more idealistic than realistic. In other words, their emphasis is on how reality should be rather than what reality actually is. I think Revisionary Postmodernism does well in employing the account of reality as we find it. Both, as a critique to Modernism and other forms of Postmodernism. Maybe we could call it Post-postmodernism.

What it does extremely well is that it explains and demonstrates the interconnectedness of all of our reality. In an existence where individuals are dependent upon others for their well-being it follows that each of us is important and has value – even those (especially those) who have been traditionally marginalized. Community is, or more specifically, relationships are an inescapable aspect of life. We are each a part of the community of others and of creation as a whole, in which the ever-present God loves and influences us to love.

One of the keys to being in community is experiencing community – actually experiencing community. Taking it in, being actively present through the joys of relationships, and experiencing life with others. The experience of others cannot always be articulated through words, syllogisms, or prepositions. Experiential knowing is much like story-based knowing, or learning through narrative. This is a different type of knowledge and it is a different way of knowing. But it can only be learned through loving community.


Ronald

The revisionary postmodern tradition has it right when they are addressing, what modernist seem not take too seriously, the focus on the “outcasts”. Oord writes” The worldview revisionary postmodernists offer is intended to account for the voices of those at the margins and the mainstream. “. Our community is becoming bigger which advancement in technology is affording us. The revisionary postmodern tradition seems to strive toward a elimination of a “us versus them” mindset which has been so prevalent throughout history. If we strive to be a global community, which I would contend is a need for the postmodern citizen. the words of Bono carries much more weight when he says: “We’ve got to carry each other.” At the same time, we need not forget, and the revisionary postmodernist would concur” Discerning tolerance is a moral imperative, and wisdom with regard to difference is crucial”. This statement is all too crucial as we strive for community, we strive for tolerance but tolerance with discernment.


Amy Byerley

There is a common factor for postmodernism and that is the need for community. They don’t feel that we should just individualize ourselves from the world. Mr. Oord points out that we live in a relational world. It takes many people to make the body of Christ, not just one person.
If Revisionary postmodernist reject the fact that we have a certain center of a sure foundation to build upon, does this mean that they are rejecting the experimental non negotiables? You had talked about gardening in this article and you compared gardening to non-negotiables relating them to things such as seeds, water, nutrients, and sunlight. There is a comparison here with non-negotiables to our faith. We come to know Christ because someone plants the seed and then someone else comes and waters that seed and so on. This article is a little hard to follow, but when you are referring to elements of the gardening, are you referring to our faith? This article has definitely challenged my way of thinking about new things and ideas.


Monica Liberatore

I can now add revisionary postmodernism to the list of things to ponder. There were some appealing points made, some I question, and some I can’t agree with. One of the things I question is that in the beginning it is stated that they reject the idea of having “a certain center or sure foundation upon which to build”, yet farther along it is stated that the doctrine of God is “an important plank”. This seems to minimize God’s role and I don’t understand how any Christian theology can dismiss Jesus as being the center or foundation. Another point I didn’t understand was the reference to standing with Paul in that we are members of one body. Are the revisionary postmodernist referring to all creatures being members of one body due to our relations with others? I have never heard the concept of “one body”, as expressed in scripture by Paul, referring to anything other than Christians and the church being one body with Christ as the head. Even with some things to think about, I can agree that humanities current way of thinking is in desperate need of change.


Courtney Gilbert

Revisionary post modernism accounts for all of life’s dimensions; this theory is something I can ascribe to. I appreciate this theory’s ability to allow for all areas of life, areas of physical composition, the senses, and those experiences outside of those realms. I also admire that this postmodern world view is one that is always moving forward, forever progressing. This theory recognizes that our world is ever evolving and changing, thus our outlook on life should too. We are always in need of revision, we are never perfect Christians, so I give credit to the statement of never being completed in this postmodern world view.
Another point of this theory I appreciate is the value placed on those living in the margins of life. These people are almost always forgotten or helped when it is necessary or is good for business. This theory shows the love of Jesus in practical ways. Our story of who God is should always include those different from ourselves; God’s story should include everyone.


hubert tiger

Life can no longer be understood as compartments or little boxes that don’t have a relationship with each other. We all can embrace the fact that we are living in a different world than what previous generations have experienced and somehow this new world requires of us to think and act differently as we grow together. Revisionist we are told seek a story that is large enough and adequate enough to be inclusive. The inclusivity does lead toward people having an appreciation that we are different but that we are all connected in community which we should prioritize.

Revisionist certainly come to the aid of Christian ministry because they make the God out there to be understand as the God who relates and God who is active in our world. Christians need to demonstrate to the world that all of life and creation is a stewardship and we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us by God and we can no longer just sit by and watch our world go to ruins. I believe that it is so awesome to live with the understanding and hope that the best is yet to be and I believe that this is one theme that fits into the paradigm that we serve a story large enough and adequate enough to include everyone through this hope.
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James High

Out of the four discussed post-modern views, I think we can easily say that this one provides us with the best chance of moving forward socially as well as theologically. There is one area of clarification that I would like to see. In the other examples, I found myself asking about how God could fit into these worldviews and how would we respond theologically to the issues they present. In revisionary postmodernism, at least as you presented it, the idea of God or some other deity is actually intrinsic to the entire system. My question is would others see it this way, or is this what you would consider to be the natural progression of this philosophy? Is a deity a “experiential nonnegotiable?”


Chelsea Pearsall

Throughout this post, I was reminded of the pillars that the Wesleyan Quadrilateral uses to aid in faith formation. With Dr. Oord’s statement of “reclaiming the past and imagining a future,” I see how these are themes that can fit well within Wesleyan thinking. From embracing tradition, and the inclusion of experience, the revisionary postmodernism captures significant aspects of the quadrilateral. This view of postmodernism that strikes a balance of those pillars in faith. Instead of focusing solely on logic, different avenues are accepted.

I am also drawn to the deconstruction of certain boundaries, yet also the bringing together of such topics or ways of speaking. The reconstructive postmodernism appears to have a more positive view on the world, especially in light of the view on progress. I think a part of this is where we begin with how we view the world. If the world is viewed as good, or at least with the potential to be good, then we can work towards such good now. If we view the world in negative terms and see no redemption possible now, then we engage in a type of self-fulfilling prophesy, as some disengage with a world they think is disintegrating. In turn, the world may stop in progressing because of lack of participation.


Andy Perrine

Out of all the postmodern traditions, I find revisionary postmodernism to be the one that I would feel comfortable in adapting as part of my philosophy for ministry. “Revisionary postmodernists identify the nonnegotiable of life, draw from past wisdom, and incorporate novel ideas as they propose a credible postmodern worldview.” Revisionary postmodernism allows us to stay strong in what we believe and at the same time “account for truths in the widest range of experience”. The emphasis on experiences helps develop a true sense of the our relationship with God, with others, and helps paint a truer picture of the world around us. Emotions, history, and ideas help develop us in ways that our senses cannot. I also appreciated the inclusion of those considered to be in the “margins”. As Christians, we should include all, for God’s love is for all. We should reach out and fight for those in need.


Denice Gass

It is difficult for me to narrow down what I want to respond to with regard to this article because the information is so rich. I appreciated the way that Dr. Oord took his readers through the individual aspects of the postmodern approach and urged us to think more deeply about every facet.

There were a couple of things that did stand out for me however. Dr. Oord writes, “Revisionary postmodernists argue, however, that language is not the only or even the most important lens on reality. Rather, experience is prior to and more basic than language. In fact, most experience is nonlinguistic” (Oord, NP). For me this is a wonderful reminder for us as Christians that the God we serve is not limited to the pages of Scripture. We learn of him through nature, through one another, through our experiences, etc. This approach to postmodernism reminds us to open our minds and hearts to the unique and varied ways that God is revealing himself to us, and for churches and Christians who are struggling to break free of the four walls of their buildings, it is a very powerful reminder. But coming to terms with some of these new ideas and breaking our well established ideas about who God is and who he wants us to be in and through him requires courage. Oord writes, “Many revisionary postmodernists agree with Berry. Some dare to hope that a better way of thinking and acting is now possible. But this better way must involve being, acting, and thinking differently (Oord, NP). Revisionary postmodernism urges us to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of changing the way we see the God we serve, the way we see ourselves as believers, and the way we see the world around us. It calls us to love with abandon, serve with compassion, and to see the world around us as a gift from Almighty God to be discovered and appreciated. It recognizes the limits of human thought, while encouraging each of us to be students of God’s world and Word. In effect, it urges us to look around us, and experience the glimpses of God and his glory as we journey through our everyday lives.


Mike Curry

While reading this great blog post, I was struck by how beautifully that revisionary postmodernism confronts modernism and also provides a check to the other aspects of postmodernity. As an example, rather than reverting to pure relativism wherein every belief is true, even contradictory ones, revisionary postmodernism brings common sense into the equation with “experiential nonnegotiables.” Likewise, instead of leading into the nihilism that deconstruction can bring, revisionary postmodernism seeks to construct a worldview that seeks to give some purpose or focus to life, no matter how incomplete it may seem.
Where this type of postmodernism keeps modernity in check, it seems as if it liberates Christianity to be Christianity free from many modern entanglements that bound it up. Instead of proclaiming ‘God is dead,’ revisionary postmodernism “places God and creation front and center.” For Christian ministry, there should be no fear that Christ can be brought into every area of life with the demarcation between secular and sacred removed. God can be understood in the person of Christ and therein the relational aspect of who God is can be experientially known. This type of philosophy/theology brings hope as it is not stuck and stale, but rather “will always be ‘on the way,’ partial, and in need of further revision.” I look forward to seeing what type of new Christian worldview emerges over these next few years.


Tom Wilfong

The revisionary postmodernist’s view that secular and sacred cannot be neatly separated is one that I think many Christian churches could learn something from. It amazes me how we like to try and compartmentalize everything, even God. I have always had a problem with how Christians try to separate themselves out from everyone else. I firmly believe that by doing this we are promulgating an “us vs. them” mentality or a “good vs. bad” persona. You can see it at just about any church. Let someone new walk in dressed shabbily/dirty, looking kind of rough. You can see the little cliques and their judgmental looks. They see this outsider who does not fit the mold that they think people at their church should look like and they gather in their holy huddles until the person gives up and leaves. We expect them to come in and immediately be just like us so that we don’t feel uncomfortable or have to deal with something new. There should be no clear boundary between secular and sacred. We should get to the point that you cannot tell where the church ends and the outside world begins.


Robert Merrills

In terms of postmodern philosophies I find revisionary postmodernism to be the most promising while still challenging itself to review, reshape and renew it proponents. It is unique among philosophies in that it can acknowledge common ground with a counterpart in reconstruction, the deconstructionist without reducing itself into the abyss of acute relativism. It can recognize the plight of the marginalized, add value to non-human creation, give credibility to nonsensory perceptions as a way of receiving knowledge about the world and do so without an apparent burden for pluralism. The central tenet that runs through this particular postmodern expression is the sense of connectedness between all of God’s creation, and between creation and the Creator. The communal or relational aspect of revisionary postmodernism is probably the aspect that I find most appealing. The appeal for me comes from the prominent position God plays, not as a theological symbol but an empowering force that encourages continual movement toward transformation of individuals, systems, and mindsets.

Christianity is most light appears at best tolerant of others. Christianity informed through revisionary postmodernism takes a more proactive role in reviewing the past, learning from experiences of many more voices, and continues to be guided by the Spirit of God to avail itself to new approaches that show God’s love and relationship to creation in transformative ways.


Mirtha Z. Castro-Martin

God bless everyone!

Revisionists seek to give importance to the ideas of variety of sensibilities, including religious, scientific, ecological, liberationist, economic, and aesthetic. Their view is to promote diversity and difference. I like the idea that revolusionary postmodernists agrees with postmodernists in that all living things have intrinsic value. I have heard the idea of people believing in God and evolution. However, the idea that God continues to create is a new one for me. I definitely see how creatures and humans are interrelated and that they have importance in community. It has always been the responsibility for mankind to take care of nature, animals and the world. So, mankind should look for the welfare of animals as well as for other people and living things. As, John Wesley says, “Progress toward a better world is possible by divine grace and proper creaturely responses.” All of mankind can do something everyday to improve the environment.

What is also interesting is how revisionary postmodernists reject the modern idea that God could be understood to the fullest. But, God is loving towards us and he does interact with us. I also believe that we do not know God in His totality. Still, we have to learn to continue to think that there is a truly loving God. This is what gives me and others the desire to continue in going forward in life. I would not know were would I be if I would have never experienced what I call God Almighty. I view the world as Michael Polanyi in that personal knowledge must play a role in order to try to make sense of the world.
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Joon Lee

As I was reading about revisionary postmodernism, I realized that much of what I already believed in was consistent with this tradition. I want to briefly highlight some key areas of agreement, with a few caveats.
I agree that it is important to construct a worldview, rather than merely deconstructing. As a Christian, I believe that Christ is the sure foundation upon which to build our worldview, but I do realize this can still be very subjective for Christians, while being unhelpful to non-Christians. I absolutely believe that our worldview needs to be inclusive, as it is enriched through a diversity of thoughts. However, I do feel that discernment can often be lacking, as we can seem bigoted if we disagree with claims from the margins.
I agree that experience, more than language, offers a window into reality. However, I also believe that an overemphasis on subjective experience can lead to dubious claims. I especially find experiential nonnegotiables to be helpful in overcoming relativism and offering foundations from which to build our worldview. I also appreciate the “virtue of being resolute,” which avoids the extremes of relativism and absolutism.
I am a critic of modernity’s espousal of individualism, as well as its hopelessly optimistic views on human progress. I recognize that we can progress in some ways—fights against racism and sexism come to mind—but I believe humans, in their essence, are essentially the same across eras. We are broken, but we can be restored through God. I believe in ecology and the centrality of community. We are relational beings by nature, and this is because we reflect God. Our God is love, which implies the primacy of relationship.


Timothy Streight

Progress versus people. I think something that postmodernism is undertaking, much to the chagrin of the modernist is the task of redefining progress to be more people oriented. The problem with this is that the millennials have misunderstood the movement and have become less intentional with relationships in some ways while making strides in other areas.

The modern movement sacrificed relationships in the home and in the third spaces, such as front porches, community centers and churches. The revisionary postmodernism has witnessed the lack of joy that accompanies a wreckless pursuit of progress. The revision is necessary but proper communication and vision casting must be shared with the next generation so that we do not aimlessly move forward.

To truly capture relationship and community we must be extremely intentional in the culture that we create to encourage these things. Culture both in the home and in the broader communities. These things are not in opposition to the progress of the working world but if joined with the working world it can enrich the working communities as well.


Nancy Helms-Cox

This article was helpful in my personal theological journey and the thoughts I have been processing. “Revisionary Postmodernism” is a fairly new term to me and the idea of drawing from the past (tried and true methods) while being open to novel ideas in the present makes perfect sense. I believe it is essential to “construct a worldview adequate for our time,” and that our theologies should flow from this. As the world changes, and as our personal relationships with God change, our theologies take on new meaning. I especially appreciate that Revisionary Postmodernism is all-inclusive. “They seek a story big enough and adequate enough to include everyone.” This is an idea that is still lacking in the church at large and exclusivism still lurks. Institutionalized religion has created a church system/theology that promotes elitism, hierarchies, and dogmas that fail to promote diversity and inclusion. Like John Wesley, I am optimistic, “the best is yet to be.” One way or another our personal responses will influence the future.


Devon Golden

Catherine Keller has it right when she “suggests that the middle ground between absolute and relative is the postmodern virtue of being resolute.” The strength of revisionary postmodernism lies in its avoidance of absolute relativism. Revisionary postmodernism realizes that when relativism becomes too absolute meaning is lost and no form of generality is allowed. Instead, revisionary postmodernism calls for some kind of general ground. This posts that at least some kind of universal standard is present and that not everything is limited to personal experience and context. These universal standards suggest a “better than” which is important in a pool of options. In order to draw some meaning from context and personal experience, we need universal standards to govern and guide all experiences to some kind of middle ground for meaning to exist.


Nancy Helms-Cox

This article was helpful in my personal theological journey and the thoughts I have been processing. “Revisionary Postmodernism” is a fairly new term to me and the idea of drawing from the past (tried and true methods) while being open to novel ideas in the present makes perfect sense. I believe it is essential to “construct a worldview adequate for our time,” and that our theologies should flow from this. As the world changes, and as our personal relationships with God change, our theologies take on new meaning.
I especially appreciate that Revisionary Postmodernism is all-inclusive. “They seek a story big enough and adequate enough to include everyone.” This is an idea that is still lacking in the church at large and exclusivism still lurks. Institutionalized religion has created a church system/theology that promotes elitism, hierarchies, and dogmas that fail to promote diversity and inclusion. Like John Wesley, I am optimistic, “the best is yet to be.” One way or another our personal responses will influence the future.


Millie Bearchell

Revisionary Postmodernists is a new term for me, but I feel like I have been living out my Christian walk in many ways of what was stated in Oord’s blog. I am so encouraged by the definition that was given, “Revisionary Postmodernists accept the task of constructing a worldview adequate for our time.” This definition also makes it clear that this is a fluid definition. The world is constanting changing and unfortunately the church has not allowed for changes to take place within the ministry and programs offered. I love the whole idea of diversity and differences with the Church community. Community is a key element of Revisionary Postmodernists and the acceptance and inclusion of others is so vital to this day and age and again, the church in my opinion has alienated so many people who did not meet the “standards” of the church. Reclaiming the past of what has worked is good in moving towards the future. Again, we can’t be afraid to let go what does not work any longer and be brave enough to embrace new and innovative ideas when it comes to programs and ministry. This blog was a great challenge to me and I believe to many others.


Kevin

“Revisionary postmodernists agree with the conclusion Bono draws from this insight: ‘We’ve got to carry each other.’ We are designed for community, and our individual well-being is caught up in and largely dependent upon the well-being of the whole” (Oord). For most pure constitutionalists or capitalists this sounds like a purely socialist statement. At the same time, this statement rings true. I believe that when we focus not just on ourselves, but upon community it creates an atmosphere of loving openness. I also believe that it helps foster within us, the want to be loving, holy, and relational.


Caleb S. Daniels

Dr. Oord,
Thank you for these looks at different postmodern philosophical movements. It seems to me that this final one, revisionist postmodernity takes many of the healthiest parts of the other postmodern schools of thought and synthesizes them into something that rethinks our world without rejecting the past entirely (hence the revisionist name).
I had a bible teacher in high school that was anti-postmodernity entirely — in part because of the confused necessary interrelatedness it had with complete moral relativism in his mind. I think framing these movements in the ways that you have, and particularly by offering a less-extreme postmodern philosophical option, you’ve made postmodern thought approachable for people such as my nervous high school bible teacher. Thank you for that.
Enjoyed the post. Keep it up!


Ozzy O

Early in the post, Dr. Oord states the rejection of a sure foundation upon which to build a worldview. Later in the post, he rejects negative theology and affirms that there is some knowledge of a God. He writes that the knowledge is seen through a dark glass. Therefore, he rejects two strong positions, first firm foundation, such as a theological worldview that articulates basic philosophical principles as its underpinnings, and second apophatic theology and that nothing can be known.
Instead of strong positions, Oord argues for a worldview that is always on the way, changing and evolving. A person could then ask, “In this recasting and adapting worldview, can anything be known and if it can be known, can it be referred to as a universal principle?”
Along those lines, Dr. Oord did highlight “experiential nonnegotiables” or “hard-core commonsense notions.” These are presuppositions that undergird our interpretations of experiences. A person could ask, “Are we assuming the truth of our conclusions from our experiences when our conclusions are the results of our presuppositions?”


Nici Overduin

Revisionary postmodernism “revisions reality by drawing from a wide spectrum of resources” and it “places God and creation front and center,” writes Dr. Oord. This postmodern tradition seems to gather the best of the other postmodern theologies we have been studying. Aspects of Open and relational Theology seem hidden in this Revisionary tradition. I particularly like the aspect that “Progress toward a better world is possible by divine grace and proper creaturely responses.” This puts the relational aspect of God and creation central and in this cooperation transformation in the world to occur. The aspect of the Experiential non-negotiables calls us to use common sense and take the best of what it is offered in the world. I would also think that it should not undermine the centrality of God and creation. Using the theology of Essential Kenosis, they shouldn’t undermine love.


Andrew Sinift

You mention the failures modernity, particularly its failure to care for the marginalized. I wonder what some of the failures of postmodernity will be, regardless of which tradition. For this reason, I appreciate that revisionary postmodernists understand that while we can understand truth on some level, it is a work in progress. This allows for humility but avoids the apparent fatalism of deconstructionists.
Nevertheless, I would push back and argue that language might be more important than revisionists give it credit for. Our experience is shaped by our language even if that experience is “non-linguistic”. In “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (adapted into the recent film “Arrival”), a linguistic hypothesis is brought up that states that our worldview and experience is dramatically shaped by our language. In other words, different cultures understand the human experience differently not only because of cultural differences but also linguistic differences. While I am no linguist, I believe this an actual theory within the science. Even those who use sign language consider themselves to be a somewhat different culture than that which surrounds them. It would seem that words shape our culture to a large extent.
I am not sure that it is possible to separate experience from language. Without words, we have nothing which to understand or express our experience. For these reasons and more, I still tend to fall along the lines of narrative postmodernity.


James S

Revisionary postmodernism does well in seeing that one’s perspective or worldview is often continually changing. This goes hand-in-hand with the view that progress is possible, but not inevitable. While a particular aspect of one’s perspective may be one’s own truth, additional experience or wisdom may change that perception, but it does not need to. Being open to new perspectives does not mean one is automatically exposing themselves to something detrimental to their well-being. While one must be careful with what they allow into their minds, by taking every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ (see 2 Cor 10:5), one may be able to analyze a certain point of view, compare it with Scripture, and move forward by accepting it or not. Unless one has acquired a position of continual cooperation with God and has achieved the majority of the promises found in Scripture, there is potential for different thinking.


Lisa Smith

Here, Oord introduces revisionary postmodernism which attempts to construct a worldview that is “adequate for our time.” I appreciate how it answers Modernity’s neglect of the marginalized, choosing instead to include those people and realities that the modern approach traditionally excluded–such as women, ethnic minorities, the religious or spiritual, non-human creation, and even God—giving this approach a more holistic view of reality than modernism.
At the same time, Oord argues that revisionary postmodernism also challenges even some concerning postmodern traditions, specifically extreme relativism. I greatly appreciate how this revisionary approach allows for one to choose one worldview which one truly believes makes the best sense of reality better than others do.
Revisionary postmodernism also combines into its worldview a respect for both science as well as realities not perceived through the 5 senses—things like God and faith. It emphasizes the value of non-human creation and the importance of community and relationships that bring meaning, purpose and value to our experience.
In short, I believe revisionary postmodernism is a wonderful option for people of faith like me, who want to adapt our personal worldview out of the weaknesses of modernity without leaving a relationship with a loving and relational God behind. Revisionary postmodernism allows us to be able to honestly and critically evaluate worldviews to determine which are best and make the most sense of the reality we are living, a reality which includes both faith and truth.


Mike B.

Dr. Oord states, “Modernity failed to consider the experiences of those at the margins (e.g., women, ethnic minorities). It failed to account for animal experience. And it failed to consider the essential role of divine action or providence. These and other modern failures resulted in the loss of a holistic perspective on reality.” The New Testament pointed us in a new direction and Jesus affirmed the new view of everyone and everything. Unfortunately, being so imperfect, we have screwed it up. We did better than we were before, but not near as good as we should have been doing. It has taken a while to finally reach this place, but we are now trying to do a more effective job at raising up the rest of the world.

Dr. Oord writes, “Revisionary postmodern worldview reserves an essential place for both creatures and the Creator.” As I’ve progressed through this course, I’ve gravitated to some if the different theologies that have been presented. Some I picked up more than others. There was no one theology that I could embrace 100% though. What I’ve read of Revisionary Postmodernism comes pretty close though. I think the most important aspect is the relationship that we acknowledge that we have with God and all of Creation. As the world becomes more connected, people are becoming more cognizant of the connection that we all have to each other and Creation and our Creator. I’m hopeful that that trend will continue to increase.


Kitt Lenington

In reading this particular paragraph regarding the offering of revisionary postmodernists, I found it disingenuous, as here, as they want “to account for the voices of those at the margins and the mainstream.” Really? The mainstream is the default, as it is when defining whiteness versus that of people of color. ‘The voices of the marginalized or forgotten is what has been sought out for an incredible length of time within Catholicism and other mainstream Protestant denominations. It may be relatively new to those in the Holiness traditions; it is not for other denominations in Christianity.
However, in reading, I found there were many things with which I find agreement with revisionary postmodernism. In relation to God, revisionary postmodernists “affirm that God is actual, active and interacting in the world. God really lives and truly loves.” I find the ‘relational’ God much more believable than the distant, aloof God some define as God’s nature. Further said is, “We cannot neatly separate the secular and the sacred.” I agree to a point. It’s similar to what I experience in living the principles of AA – “we practice these principles in all our affairs.” It’s the same with being a Christian, we are to walk the talk. I place the limitation of regulating my beliefs to the public/governmental sphere.
Another thing I find compelling with revisionary postmodernism is that isolationism is not conducive to community. “Community is essential.” Absolutely. We need others for support, communication and sharing, for help when we find ourselves drifting and a bit out-of-tune with life. I have a community wherein I can be ‘called out’ for not being true to the principles or to myself which comes about due to my allowance of vulnerability so others know who I am.
Best of all, though, is the coining of a word I need to find a sentence for – theocosmocentrism! How great a word is that?!!

Kitt


Jodine Zeitler

I see the benefits of revising some old ways of thinking that are prohibitive to people’s spiritual formation, however it must be done with much humility before God and caution. However, one of the ideas that was mentioned, theistic evolution, is a difficult one for me. Even before this class, I have held to the Genesis creation model, but had thought that if I was wrong and evolution is how things came to be, that it was God’s way of creating. Something coming from nothing, aka the Big Bang, only makes sense if there was someone there to create it. If it happened, it had help. I’m still not ready to jump on that bandwagon, but am willing to consider arguments for it. This was a great wrap up to the revisionary postmodernism discussions.


Mark Davidson

I have really gotten a lot from reading about how revisionary postmodernism addresses some of the major issues and questions in this day and age, but I believe that the aspect which speaks to me the concept of theocosmocentrism. Too often in today’s world, it seems that people try to isolate religion, or at least the Christian religion which deals with moral and theological absolutes, from the rest of life. This has never set well with me, and I am glad that you address this in your OP, Dr. Oord. Understanding how the mysteries of God, and how God relates to the world helps us to understand how the world, how creatures, including human beings relate also to God. Being willing to make the proper adjustments in our worldview is key to understanding this, and to having an evolving view which takes into account new understanding, and this is key to growing closer to God.


Joyce Tempel

Individualism makes us see our relationship with God as something to be achieved for personal benefit, and the social aspect of our call is often overlooked. The postmodern culture is pointing Christianity to the recovery of an emphasis on community. I like the revisionary postmodern view of the need of a reconnection to Community, emphasizing a renewed focus on the communal aspect of what God is calling His church to be and do. “We are designed for Community.” It’s in the community that we are built and have our character tested and shaped. It’s in the church and in the society that we demonstrate the marks of our renewed heart.


Rob Birks

This makes good sense to me. I resonate with the middle way approach to developing a worldview which cannot be described as either absolute or relative. I do note, however, that traversing the middle way is often more difficult and dangerous than choosing preexisting “sides.” Perhaps especially in Evangelical circles, charges of “luke-warm”, “sitting on the fence” and references to Revelation 3:16 abound when one attempts to think carefully and critically about God and humans and the relationship God desires us to have with the non-human elements of his creation.

I’m a sucker for most things Bono and/or Berry. I would suggest that the only hope of fulfilling the first part of Berry’s quote and avoiding part two (The End) is to heed Bono’s lyric. Also, if I could be so bold, the One lyric is actually “We get to carry each other”, not “We’ve got to carry each other.” The difference is grammatically small, but theologically massive. If followers of Jesus can unlearn what keeps us from a bigger, more generous theology, I stand with Wesley, “The best is yet to be.”


Roman Lyon

Revisionary Postmodernism gives me hope because it seeks to fill in the gaps that modernism and postmodernism have left empty. We have to recognize that our relationship with God, while still needing to be deeply personal, must be social if and when it is possible as well. I also like the fears the Revisionary Postmodernism tries to rid Christians from. You stated in regards to theistic evolution, “it affirms a necessary place both God and evolution in an adequate explanation of creation. One can affirm both the main contours of contemporary science and the belief that God originally and continually creates.” Science and Christianity are not something that are to be afraid of nor are they something that have to be completely separate. Whether one agrees with theistic evolution or not, we can appreciate that two sides are working together in an area that there was previously a lot of fear.


Kevin E. Bottjen

In this introduction to Revisionary Postmodernism, Oord gives insight on how one of faith can have a place in this new world. He states, “Progress toward a better world is possible by divine grace and proper creaturely responses.” As a child, I grew up in Southern California in the 1970’s and 80’s. I remember red flag smog alert days where we weren’t allowed to play outside during recess.
While I would not call myself an environmentalist, I do believe that man, as the “top” of God’s creatures, have a responsibility to take care of this earth. The idea of revisionary postmodernism can help to bridge the gap between the extreme “ist” groups who often (not always) are anti-God (feminist, environmentalist, animal activist, etc.) and those who have a strong faith in God. It allows us to work together and not throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to postmodernism.


Troy Teeter

I can appreciate what you describe as the premise for revisionary post-modernism in that it brings in not only what can be expressed through science, but also the understanding that not all things can fit within the descriptions of science. I also appreciate it’s understanding within this mindset that God is relationally working within creation and that there is still a creative element going on. I agree with this. We limit ourselves too much when we declare that it’s all complete or that something just aren’t real if we can’t properly “prove” something with the scientific method. As such, I also believe that we need to not see God’s creation as just a resource to be consumed, but to better understand the symbiotic relationship that we have. The emphasis of experience, while hard to document at times, is also important. Just because your experience is different than mine, doesn’t invalidate your experience.


Jonathon Wren

Times are truly changing. We must take serious this change and be willing to evaluate our processes and structures to adapt and morph within our context. This sort of post modernism approach takes seriously this idea. One of the things that was mentioned several times was the role of experience. contextualizing any ideology (especially theology) that we teach or hear by applying and identifying it within our own subjective experience and shared experiences helps the hearer create their own idea and conception that is applicable and relevant in the reality in which they live. Modernity identified with authority and took many beliefs by faith, whereas post-moderns do not. There has to be a reason I should believe it. This is a move towards that shift in thinking. If we want to be effective in all things, beyond making disciples, we must be able to contextualize the message we have without watering it down or compromising the heart of the message.


Aneel Mall

The concept of revisionary Postmodernism offers us a view that humanity is always shifting in its make-up and self-awareness. The world as we know is in constant flow and change and with it so does our thinking to our current needs and challenges. There are somethings which are a constant, the need for survival and to build up as communities. But how we survive and how we lift and build up our communities will be flexible, flowing and interconnected in diverse ways. But one thing that I would like to make us aware is that giving something a new name or title does not solve our problems. Having a new name or theological position may offer recognition to the reality of our needs yet it is about the “action” that follows that brings about a change. Missional theology takes this into account as they see God moving in a flexible and flowing to connect to people through their understanding and experience. This reminds me of the woman at the well whose thoughts had locked God in the temple of Jerusalem and Jesus reminded her that God was moving and interacting with the changes happening currently in the world.


Jonathan Gibson

Revisionary Postmodernism is a new term for me that seems to take a step forward from post modernism. What I really appreciated about the overall arch of this essay is the centrality of community as an underlying foundation within revisionary postmodernism. It takes into account how we relate with one another, how we relate to God, how we relate to creation and how we all move together into the future. As we seek to understand human relationship more fully we must embrace the changing landscape and experiences we share. As we seek to understand our relationship to God more fully we must do so in a moving and changing conversation and interaction with our own experiences.

Our progress towards God’s fully restored world is dependent upon our communal participation in all areas. I really connected with the insight that even my own understanding is dependent upon my experience in and with community and creation. Our struggle can come when we forget that reality or tend to lean towards our individualistic focus in world and life or lean towards our tendency of modernistic influence and our desire for absolutes.


Travis Dotter

With the time constantly changing we must be flexible but not also make that we stay true to the call of God. Something that this article mentioned quit often was the idea of experience. Experience is something that can help us connect to a context and relate to them. We need to place value in others experiences so that, hopefully, int turn they will place value in ours. How are we supposed to expect someone to listen to us if we are not willing to listen to them? I think that in order to achieve this we must make sure we are focused on a more communal approach to ministry and not be inwardly focused.


Michael Halverson

Dr. Oord I think it is imp[ortant to understand that, “Our worldviews will always be “on the way”, partial.” That we don’t get set in what we believe that nothing ever can change the way we think. The best is yet to be. Too many Christians today are so set on what they believe that they will never even entertain the possibility that things could be different in today’s world. But I think we also need to keep at the forefront of our thinking that “Progress toward a better world is possible by divine grace and proper creaturely responses.” It’s a team effort, God and creatures working together. We need to make sure that we are not creating these new theologies and trains of thought without the interaction of God, allowing God to be the central focus and not just trying to “keep up with the times.” Not only with God but with others.


Faith Poucher

Revisionary Postmodernism is a new concept for me. I like the fact that they take into account experiences and ways of the past. I feel it is important to look at the past as one begins to forge ahead. It is important to center on the image of God is love—it is his love reaching down to creatures first that one can even begin to understand love. One needs to also remember that love—God’s love should be the core of one’s being. Looking to the well-being of all creatures should be one’s goal. The world would be a better place when we look at the past and one’s experiences in our revisionary picture for the future.


Nathan Bingham

This was a good review of why it is important to know where you stand, to have a good foundation, but not become so mired down in personal beliefs that there is no room for change. As Oord wrote “we must always be prepared to recast, generalize, and adapt” without which we become stagnant in our beliefs and connection to others. In identifying that “experience is prior to and more basic than language” Oord helps us to realize that some of the most divisive arguments are due to language and by finding a common ground through mutual experience we can better know who we are as well as what that shared experience means for others.


Carlie Hoerth

Revisionary Postmodernism comes as a breath of fresh air to minorities who take a sigh of relief when they hear, as Dr. Oord summarizes, “creatures are not isolated individuals. Community is essential. An adequate postmodern worldview speculates that all creatures — both human and nonhuman — are interrelated. We live in a relational world, and who we are is largely determined by our relations with others. With the Apostle Paul, revisionists argue that we are members of one body.” Everyone wants to belong, everyone deserves a place a the table, but for too long modernity has filled all the seats with “survival of the fittest” authority. As Revisionary Postmodernism rises from the demise of modernity, minorities have finally been given the welcome that should have always been theirs. As Christian’s we should celebrate this unity as an image of the kingdom of God and a reflection of the Lord’s communion table. Going forward, let us remember that a place at the table is not an invitation to abuse our power and use it to pay back those who have abused us, but to work together now for the betterment of our communities and the world!


Jennifer Ayala

Dr. Oord, of all the postmodern tradition I do relate most to the revisionist because I agree with the standards. Like gardeners, we need the absolute essentials and are open to new ideas. I like that revisionists include what happened in the past, worldview, and things to come in the future. The revisionary postmodernism concept allows for “diversity and difference,” but not neglecting the fact that God exists in everything. “Revisionist seek to account for a variety of sensibilities, including religious, scientific, ecological, liberationist, economic, and aesthetic” It is nice to hear that we can include everything we believe (sensory) and things that we can prove (science). God is still in control despite the new concepts, modern ideas, and anything that science proves. The bottom line has God created everything; therefore, he is still creating.

When I think about revisionary postmodernism, I think about community and everything that exists around us. No one or nothing is more valuable than the other. The circle of life is not the best example, but it reminds me that all creatures are important because it serves a purpose, to sustain life. We need to continue serving others and being in community with others. “Community is essential.” We can experience God and sense his presence when in a community because we know that God is relational. God is relatable in science, ecology, economy, etc. and “we cannot neatly separate the secular and the sacred.” I believe that God cannot be removed from anything we know and everything we see around us.


Shauna Hanus

Finally, I can wrap my mind and heart around how revisionary postmodernists look at God. I agree that God is active and alive. Testimonies of people whose lives have been changed through their God experiences confirm this belief. John Wesley describes a strange warming of his heart which it seems is a nonsensory interaction with God. God was at work in his life in a nonsensory way which led to tangible expressions of Wesley’s nonsensory experience. God interacts or relates to all of creation. Humanity itself cannot explain God because God is beyond human understanding. We can however accept that God works in the lives of all creation and reveals himself as He chooses.

In the garden example we see the master gardener learning from past experience, the nonnegotiables of gardening, and new ideas to improve the garden. This is a wonderful example of what it is like in the revisionary postmodernists view. We know God from our past experiences with Him in nonsensory ways and through tangible ways. We also know God through the nonnegotiables such as the path to salvation. Finally, we know God through new experiences and learning. This view is willing to grow and learn.


Pam Novak

Thank you, Dr. Oord, for this very helpful summary of revisionist postmodernism’s distinction from other forms of postmodernism. It’s heartening to know that this form of postmodernism makes a place for God! I know that other postmodernisms still hold sway in the world—as does modernism—but I now see how Christians can engage and partner with revisionist and narrative postmodernists to bring to younger generations an understanding of God’s role in creating and sustaining our world, His enduring love, and the working of His Spirit in our lives.
Your remarks on language particularly interest me. You write, “experience is prior to and more basic than language. In fact, most experience is nonlinguistic.” How does exposure to language change our relationship to the world and to God? I have wondered about this for some time. Once we learn how to read, we can’t unlearn it. I can see a mountain and decide not to climb it, but I can’t see a word (in a language I know) and decide not to read it. This automatic, involuntary “skill” places language as an intermediary between me and my experiences. It colors them and even limits them. So when I read the Bible, I think of God differently than I might if I were to have experienced Him in other ways. When I hold a Bible in my hands and think, “this is God’s word,” I remember I have been told that all His necessary communication is to be found in the words. Is this, perhaps, why non-literate peoples often have a more direct experience of God?


Stephen Phillips

Revisionary Postmodern is the best postmodern tradition for me simply because it seems the most inclusive of all the information that is needed to make a worldview. The construction of the worldview does so with a motive that says I don’t know all the answers and I need all the necessary facts to make an informed decision, but at the same time, it understands that this worldview is always changing. Other factors include how language is not seen as the only factor but one factor in a context of several other factors. One of the important aspects that I am in favor of is the emphasis on the community by saying the community is essential. That both community and individual should be taken into consideration: “ community- created- individual.” The core of postmodern revisionary places God and how God works through creation in the center and I believe this is the way it should be done. It should be God that defines our worldview, and God speaks through all creation to give us clues in what our reality should be. Regarding Christian ministry, it becomes important that we all always listening to what God is saying any generation and culture.
w.c: 200


Missy Segota

The idea of revisionary postmodernism is the one that I have found the most workable yet. The idea is that our view of the world must be broad enough to encompass everything but with the realization and understanding that that view will change. This means the view is not static and is never meant to be static. This fits far more seamlessly with my view of how we should see ministry. As a church we make a plan and have a vision. But, as time goes on the vision needs to change to fit the group that is currently making the church as well as the community you wish to effect. If you go into a church community that is still using the mission and vision from 50 years ago, they will be the church that does not reach the people of today.
What this really means for ministry is that our churches die. If we stay stagnant and don’t change over time, we will slowly die off as we don’t attract new members. If we refuse to get out of our old patterns and habits then we will die as a church. We must revision and constantly seek to encompass new methods and different ways of doing things. We cannot grow and thrive in a changing world without changing to match.


Jessica

“Espousing some worldview or another is inescapable. Instead of fooling ourselves, say revisionists, we should propose a worldview that seems best to account for life in all its dimensions” (Oord).
I grew up in the Disciples of Christ denomination, and heard over and over again that we had no creeds. I was probably in high school when I first thought that the statement itself was a kind of creed. We all have a worldview, there is no way around it, and I would even say that no two people have the exact same worldview in totality. I think we all eventually propose a worldview that works for us and covers all dimensions of our lives, whether we do it purposefully or it just happens. All of us are guided in our behavior and choices by some standard. Postmodernism has seemed to shine a spotlight on those views, and how they have been arrived at, maybe especially for Christians. It’s good for the Christian community to evaluate and take a hard look at what we are doing and why we are doing it. Revisionary postmodernism is a call to do just that.
“Our worldviews will always be ‘on the way,’ partial, and in need of further revision” (Oord). This makes for a healthy dose of humility, as we all adjust our trajectory towards the future. Christianity has many phrases for this, “the process of sanctification,” “changing from glory to glory,” “the renewing of our minds.” So it is not a foreign idea, even in most Christian circles. This line of thought also brings the church and the “world” back together, which I think is urgently needed. “Revisionary postmodernists argue that beliefs about God should not be relegated to their own domain while beliefs about the world function without reference to God. We cannot neatly separate the secular and the sacred” (Oord). Many Christians are very adept at relegating God stuff to what happens inside the church building, while keeping God out of the stuff that happens in the rest of life. It’s an epidemic, in my opinion. Revisionary postmodernism, if it renews a holistic view of life would combat this separation.


Meg Crisostomo

Hi,

There were three aspects of revisionary postmodernism that I found quite intriguing…

First, the idea that “language is not the only or even the most important lens on reality. Rather, experience is prior to and more basic than language.” In other postmodern approaches, experience is often overlooked and language is favored. While deconstructive postmodernism questions the validity of language, there is still emphasis on the importance of language. Whereas the importance of experience is not as highly assessed.

Second, the idea that “knowledge is not confined to logic or facts obtained through our five senses… personal knowledge must play a role in our attempts to make sense of the world.” My intrigue and favor of nonsensory perception lead me to support this claim. Knowledge is not limited to hard facts, numbers, or concrete evidence. Knowledge can be gained through failed attempts, mistakes, and experiences. Jean Piaget was a developmental psychologist who brought forth the ideas that children learn through experience and piecing together aspects of their world.

Lastly, the idea that “creatures are not isolated individuals. Community is essential.” The mention of community caught my attention, because I feel that other postmodern approaches don’t include community in this way. Yes, narrative postmodernism emphasizes the importance of one’s story within a community, but it does not emphasize the value of being in community.

These three aspects of revisionary postmodernism caught my attention, because I can immediately see ways they relate to living a Christian life. Personal encounters with Christ have such immense value in a person’s faith. Understanding Christ for yourself and not because someone else wants you to or someone else passed it down to you is what personalizes your faith. And lastly, being in community with other like-minded believers strengthens your faith.


Kaylee Tilford

Two words come to mind when I think about revisionary postmodernism: humble study. First, we must understand that we do not have it all figured out and the beliefs we hold have to always be open to new ideas, beliefs and questions that test our beliefs. We cannot fully know anything, but especially God. Second, we have to continue to study. Through our experience and others truth is revealed, but we have to be willing to constantly evaluate and compare and test what we claim to be true. In this case ignorance is not bliss.
What this means for us as pastors is we have to first be willing to read, discussed, and inquire other people from different cultures, time periods, back grounds, and beliefs. We need to learn from others and compare what we learn with what we believe to be true. We also have to know what beliefs to hold fast to, and that requires us to know our convictions and why we believe what we do. Finally we must teach others how to also effectively question and evaluate what they believe and to be willing to admit that they may be wrong in certain areas.


Ryan Pearson

I found this article to be helpful and insightful. I feel like this postmodern view is easiest to relate to and find applications within ministry. I like the idea of the constant need and importance of striving to improve and revisit concepts, ideas, and “truth”. I agree with the importance of community and thinking of the whole when making decisions in ministry. I also appreciate the value of creation and ecology in this view of postmodernism. I think more than ever we as Christians should be concientious about how we affect the earth and God’s creation. I believe since we are stewards of the earth we should lead the way in taking care of God’s creation and not exploiting it because we have dominion over it. I really appreciated the metaphor of the garden and gardener. It helped me to understand both the idea of “non-negotiables” and the things that may help the garden to grow that are apart from that category.


Samantha

I have to agree that God can not be completely comprehended, rather we do “see through a glass darkly”. I know from my own experience that God is “actual, active, and interacting in the world. God really lives and truly loves”. I have seen God active in my own life on numerous occasions, and there are many other testimonies from people who have also experienced this. As a Christian I think this is a fantastic thing to hear about. Based on this blog I cannot argue with the view revisionary postmodernists hold. I am thankful for this clarity in understanding and viewpoint.


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