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

Postmodernism, Maybe It’s Not So Bad After All.

Written by: on February 6, 2020

The general agreement suggests that we live in a postmodern context.[1] Stephen R. C. Hicks is a Canadian American philosopher. He teaches at Rockford University, where he also directs the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. In his book, Explaining Postmodernism, he seeks to trace the origins of our current intellectual way of thinking.  As Marcus Verhaegh states, “He attempts to demonstrate the way in which “postmodern” ideas have more illustrious roots in the Western intellectual tradition than one might expect—to the detriment of that tradition[2]

Postmodernism is a reaction against modernity. Therefore, to understand the postmodern worldview, one must understand its predecessor. Modernity’s start date is closely linked to the Enlightenment Period and the rise of intellectual pursuit.[3] With modernity, Reason became “God,” promising that life would improve as humanity increased in knowledge. Peter Gay describes the growth of modernity as the optimistic belief that “life [was] getting better, safer, easier, healthier, more predictable—that is to say, more rational.”[4]

In light of this optimism, a trinity of beliefs—in science, technology, and economics—empowered the individualist mindset of the modernist movement. In reaction to this Enlightenment brand of faith, another shift occurred: the postmodern view rejected “naïve realism” (objective reality), even to the extreme of claiming “there is no such thing as Truth.”[5] Although postmodernism and postmodernity cannot be reduced to a single definition or stream of thought, many (primarily outside of the postmodern camp) define it under the term relativism.

J. P. Moreland, an American philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist explains that postmodernism

represents a form of cultural relativism about such things as reality, truth, Reason, value, linguistic meaning, the self, and other notions. In a postmodern view, there is no such thing as objective reality, truth, value, Reason, and so forth. All these are social constructions, creations of linguistic practices, and, as such, are relative not to individuals but to social groups that share a narrative.[6]

Due to the influence of philosophers such as Emmanuel Lévinas, Jacques Derrida and Jean-François Lyotard, the grand “meta-narratives” of the modern age were no longer considered valid, as all understanding now stemmed from the literary theorists’ understanding that words have different meaning depending on the context in which they are used. David Lyon supplements this point well in his book Jesus in Disneyland, where he writes the following:

Indeed, at one level, postmodernism is all about the demise of the grand narratives, the superstories of modern times, the decline of ideological commitment to big ideas like the nation state or progress. Within postmodernism, Reason loses its capital R, science softens its hard edges, and knowledge is seen—and felt—as (con)textual, local, and relative.[7]

The intellectual shift towards postmodernism and the demise of grand meta-narratives to many in the Church are seen as the

the secularization of society. As such, this intellectual shift poses a challenge to the concept of paracletic leadership in the fact that paracletic leadership originates from the story (narrative) of God. The relevant question becomes, does the postmodern culture have space for paracletic leadership grand meta-narratives? If Charles Taylor and recent studies are correct, then the answer is yes.[8] James K. A. Smith goes one step further and challenges Christians and the Church to embrace the postmodern deconstruction of metanarratives.[9] For Smith, this allows the Church and Christians to live out the story of God in its worship and practices.[10] As Berger notes, our world “is as furiously religious as it ever was.”[11] Even the corporate world is not immune to the continuing spiritual domain as resources have flooded the marketplace as people and leaders search for answers.[12] Patricia Aburdene, one of the world’s leading social forecasters, stats, “the quest for spirituality is the greatest megatrends of our era[13] Paracletic leadership, therefore, is poised to be an effective framework to impact the emerging generation in both the Church and the marketplace.


[1] Stephen R. C. Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (UK: Ockham’s Razor Publishing, 2011), 1.

[2].” “Book Review: Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, by Stephen R. C. Hicks.” The Independent Institute. Accessed February 6, 2020. https://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?id=555.

[3] Heath White, Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006), 12.

[4] Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, vol. 2, The Science of Freedom (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1969), 12.

[5] Brian Duignan, “Postmodernism,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, last modified October 25, 2018, https://www.britannica.com/topic/postmodernism-philosophy.

[6] J. P. Moreland, Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (Grands Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 77.

[7] David Lyon, Jesus in Disneyland: Religion in Postmodern Times (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013), preface, Kindle.

[8] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 2-3.

[9] James K. A. Smith, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, The Church and Postmodern Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 68.

[10]Ibid., 77.

[11] Peter L. Berger, The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 2.

[12] Strack, Gary, and Myron D. Fottler. “Spirituality and Effective Leadership in Healthcare: Is There a Connection?” Frontiers of Health Services Management 18.4 (2002), 2.

[13].” Patricia, Aburdene, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton, 2007), 4.

About the Author

Mario Hood

Most importantly, I am married to the love of my life, Misty Hood, and I'm kept on my toes all day every day, by my son Dalen and daughter Cola Hood. I also serve as the Next Generation Pastor at Church On The Living Edge in Orlando, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Dr. Mark Chironna as well as being a Youth and Family Life coach.

8 responses to “Postmodernism, Maybe It’s Not So Bad After All.”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    First off, how was the Donald Miller experience? I never sat in a storybrand workshop but have heard him speak a handful of times and he is riveting.

    Second, great thoughts on metanarritives that have collapsed, it makes me wonder what the narratives are that still exist. Stories about compassion, mercy, loss, and wonder are my guess, but even those may best be told in a contextual fashion. The Tortoise and the Hare is “timeless” but how can we make it’s value contextual and therefore more powerful.

    Thank you Mario!

    • Mario Hood says:

      The workshop was great. Learned a ton and excited to help churches and business bring clarity to their message.

      We might have to add some type of social media into that classic story to bring it “up to speed” :).

  2. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Very thorough post with very heady concepts. Regardless of labels and terms, which is what philosophy seems to be all about, you have drawn our attention to the obvious. People are hungry for a connection beyond themselves and their locale. They want and need a metanarrative to make sense of themselves, their life and others. Your framework of paracletic leadership is indeed poised to meet the needs of people, however they self-describe themselves philosophically.

    • Mario Hood says:

      I think reading this headed stuff actually added in me getting sick this week :). My brain literally hurt and I had to stop reading and writing for 3 days Lol.

      It is my hope that it will and only time will tell. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  3. Digby Wilkinson says:

    You are too smart for your own good. Though I will say I don’t agree with Smith. We don’t ’embrace’ postmodernism – that would be idolatry in it’s broadest terms. We embrace Christ while we engage with the postmodern. I’m also not sure just how prevalent true post modernism is. People are much more fickle than we make out. By and large, individuals want to have their cake and eat it to – they want assurity and flexibility. They want closed communities they can trust, but they also want the ideal of open permeable groups where people can be who they need to be – so long as they are not people we detest (republicans, baptists, socialists, democrats peadophiles, bigots, soccer players and on the list goes). Modern and post-modern migh be at war with each other in the classroom, but quite frankly they need and inform each other. Well written btw 🙂

    • Mario Hood says:

      Anytime I can get a complement from the Right Rev I will take that. I agree with you also that this fight is mostly in the classroom but eventually spills over into the Main Street in the years (far maybe) to come. In all fairness to Smith (I didn’t add the details in these footnotes but will in my paper) he claims it’s the Metanarrative of scientific proof of everything that the postmoderns deconstruct.

  4. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent post, Mario! I have to agree with Digby, modernism and postmodernism need each other. Neither seem to have complete knowledge.Throughout the reading this week I kept pondering why we are such dualistic thinkers? Both/and is typically more accurate than either/or as it broadens the possibilities which is far more reflective of the nature of the one who created the worlds.

  5. Mary Mims says:

    I love your post, Mario. Especially the visuals. I am going to try to check out some of your sources. I appreciate the fact that you found a definition of postmodernism.

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