Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Sim, Introducing Critical Theory

Written by: on October 26, 2019

Remember Sokal scandal?

The particularity of Sokal is that it focuses its attacks on scientific impositions produced by humanities specialists and not on communities of natural scientists; it does not announce any news about the ethical behavior of scientific production. However, it has the merit of triggering the update of the debate on the scientific imposture. Against postmodernism in science, sociologists of science such as Bruno Latour, Michel Callon, John Law, among others, criticized epistemic relativism, irrationalism, and intellectualism since the seventies.

From another perspective, but also before Sokal, Gross and Levitt published in the book Higher Superstition (1994) that science and technology were attacked by embozados “enemies,” within which were constructivists, feminists, environmentalists and all who studied the scientific-technological controversies (Gross and Levitt, 1994). In this sense, the Sokal scandal has only added fuel to the hot debates about the assault that science has suffered from this, which is labeled as postmodernism.

We don’t hear a lot about poststructuralism.

In some scientific and philosophical traditions, it is proposed that reality is something objective and neutral that exists outside our minds and independently of our social activity; Therefore, it is proposed that we can access it by a set of methods that will represent it as it is (for example through scientific models).

Given this, there are currents of thought and human sciences that have made some criticism, for example, the current called poststructuralist. It is a controversial and constantly debated term, which has had repercussions in the way of doing human and social sciences.

The term postmodernity or postmodernity was generally used to designate a large number of artistic, cultural, literary, and philosophical movements of the twentieth century, which extended until today, defined in various degrees and ways by their opposition or overcoming the tendencies of Modernity.

In anthropology and sociology, instead, the terms postmodern and postmodernization refer to the cultural process observed in many countries during the twentieth century, identified in the early 1970s. This other meaning of the word is explained under the term postmaterialism.

The different currents of the postmodern movement appeared during the second half of the 20th century. Although it applies to very different flows, they all share the idea that the current project failed in its attempt to radically renew traditional forms of art and culture, thought, and social life.

One of the biggest problems when dealing with this issue is precisely to arrive at a precise concept or definition of what postmodernity is. The difficulty in this task results from various factors, such as current affairs – and therefore the scarcity and inaccuracy of the data to be analyzed – and the lack of a solid theoretical framework to be able to extend it to all the facts that are occurring throughout of this complex process called postmodernism.


The challenge of truth in postmodern society:

One of the characteristics of postmodernism is the emergence of new rationality. The postmodern man is hedonistic and consumerist, as the system teaches him. Relativistic and skeptical, he lives on impressions, sensory, or emotional impacts on the temporary. The truth is an aesthetic and rhetorical experience, hearing about the truth, our world answers with the cynical and disillusioned question of Pilate:

And what is the truth? The aforementioned author proposes a culture of truth made of immense Respect and welcomes towards reality, translated in Respect for the person, which is eminent of the real. Paradoxically, as Saint Augustine said, in realizing in his life the union between truth and feeling, “Go where your heart takes you,” as Susana Tamaro’s novel says, “that is, towards the truth.”
For Mc Grant, Postmodernism is a cultural sensibility without absolutes, without certainties, or fixed bases, which delights in pluralism and divergence and whose goal is to think through the radical situationally of all human thought.

To this adds, Stanley J. Grenz, that evangelicalism is going through a crisis. He sees growing dissatisfaction with the traditional way of being and acting like a church. This crisis has resulted in some observers concluding that the gospel word loses its meaning. The question arises, can we talk about an evangelical movement or evangelicalism? This dissatisfaction is part of a significant cultural change that is affecting the western world; this is a warning for the encounter with the era of Postmodernism. Together with its challenges.

According to Paul Poupart, seven challenges stand out for the proclamation of the gospel.

He challenged the truth
Announce Jesus Christ in the New Age
Human Person and Family
Multicultural Societies
The computer revolution

Being a Christian in a Globalizing World and postmodern society:

Economic and cultural globalization is an extremely complex phenomenon; proof of that is what has been called “the people of Seattle.” The radical response to globalization, which paradoxically is a product of globalization itself, because it has managed to amalgamate elements as heterogeneous as the Native American peoples, anarchist movements, eastern sects, unoccupied and landless, precedents of the entire planet, and thanks so to the main engine of globalization, which is the Internet.

Globalization contains very positive elements, which greatly facilitate the exchange between diverse peoples, and why not? For evangelization.

We are facing a migratory phenomenon unprecedented in the history of humanity. We are in the process of cultural change of incalculable proportions, which should make us react. Will the church be next to the new slaves of the 21st century?

http://www.linguafranca.com/9605/sokal.html “A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies” Lingua Franca. Mayo/Junio, 1996. Pp 62-64.

The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. xxiv.

Escobar Samuel, Posmodernidad y la iglesia Evangélica.

Grenz Stanley J., Revisioning Evangelical theology, Illinois, Varsity Press, 1993.

About the Author

Joe Castillo

6 responses to “Sim, Introducing Critical Theory”

  1. Darcy Hansen says:


    I have never understood postmodernism, or modernism, or many of the other philospohical -isms. Because of that, I was wondering if you could unpack this a bit more for me please:

    “The question arises, can we talk about an evangelical movement or evangelicalism? This dissatisfaction is part of a significant cultural change that is affecting the western world; this is a warning for the encounter with the era of Postmodernism.”

    Is the deconstructive phase of evangelicalism a result of the postmodernism construct? If so, is that necessarily a bad thing? I wonder if components of it need to be burned down or buried, so new can emerge, especially as demographics drastically change during this “unprecedented migratory phenomenon” that we are experiencing?

    • Joe Castillo says:

      Darcy, good question as I understand modern philosophers attempt to promote the refusal of traditions, sociology-historical biases. It also intends to question one’s own experience of things. Postmodernism intends to put everything in quotation marks. It questions “reality”, “truth” “humanity”, “denial of authority”. In the church, postmodernism questions the language of the words because they are open to various interpretations undermining the authority of the Bible. Christianity is only one of many narratives.

  2. Greg Reich says:

    In a postmodern world that makes all truth relative and thrives on breaking apart grand narratives how does evangelism maneuver these challenges without losing it way?

  3. John McLarty says:

    In what way(s) does the question of modern/postmodern impact your ministry or your project research? You clearly put a great amount of work into this post, is this related somehow to something you’re working on?

  4. Joe says:

    Not at all. Is a combination of previews work with Fuller and other lectures.

  5. Chris Pollock says:

    Thanks Joe, I like the pictures! I’m not being covetous when I say that. Honestly, a slight bit curious as to how to go about uploading pictures from the internet!

    I remember a few years ago there was a lot of excitement with regards to ’emerging’ church. As to what has emerged since then…and, what keeps on emerging…I’m not too sure.

    Toward the beginning of last week, as I caught on to all the excitement surrounding Kanye West, etc. a defining ‘thing’ emerged for me with regards to the movement of Church community today and our conversation.

    Followers of Jesus are engaged and interested in what is going on around (like, I think Jesus would be too, eh). There’s a ‘super-caring’ and interest and an ever-opening openness, of what life and love look like! Certainly, some are at the forefront of this conversation…of love, of acceptance, of this constant global mixing…that, we are present in the mix-of-it and considering community in the mix-of-it.

    There’s much struggle in these days as this massive coming together is happening. I see people affected by the struggle and upset, hopeful for followers of Christ to step up into the mixing-messiness at times with a beautiful view and encouragement for togetherness!

    Thanks Joe! Exciting days ahead…

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