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

What’s real? How do you know, and so what?

Written by: on October 29, 2023


In his book “Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault,” author Stephen R. C. Hicks explores the philosophy of postmodernism and its effects on politics, cultural practices, and individual lives. Hicks argues that postmodernism, with its emphasis on skepticism and rejection of objective Truth, has its roots in the philosophical and political ideas of thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Michel Foucault.

Changing of Guards

“Even postmodernism’s opponents, surveying the intellectual scene and not liking what they see, acknowledge a new cutting edge. In the academic world, there has been a changing of guard. “[1]

The book begins by tracing the historical development of postmodernism, starting with the Enlightenment era and the rise of modernity. Hicks explores how the Enlightenment’s focus on reason, individualism, and progress eventually gave way to a more skeptical and relativistic worldview. He argues that postmodernism emerged as a response to the perceived failures and contradictions of modernity, particularly in relation to issues of power, identity, and knowledge.[2]

Was this brainwashing?

It was around 1985 or so when I got introduced to a different kind of religion in my village in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The melodious songs, beautiful drums, and music captured our attention as we walked back from elementary school in this dusty village of Gakirage. It wasn’t long before I gave myself to Jesus in how they taught me and started to follow the new way of Jesus. This message of the Pentecostal and Charismatic teaching had been imported from the West and was now spreading all over Africa. Rwanda followed suit after Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Whose ancestors and at what shrines should we worship?

Some offended by Western Christianity argued that Africans were blindly and forcefully instructed not to worship their true gods. Still, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and worship was to be in no other shrines but those bearing the cross of Jesus (churches).[3]  To some Africans, calling ancestral worship evil in Africa was nothing but another way of spreading colonial masters’ manipulation to strengthen their grip on power. Side by side with their high levels of commitment to Christianity and Islam, many people in the countries surveyed retain beliefs and rituals that are characteristic of traditional African religions. In four countries, for instance, half or more people believe that sacrifices to ancestors or spirits can protect them from harm. In addition, roughly a quarter or more of the people in 11 countries say they believe in the protective power of juju (charms or amulets), shrines, and other sacred objects. Belief in the power of such things is highest in Senegal (75%) and lowest in Rwanda (5%).[4]

Throughout the book, Hicks provides a critical analysis of postmodernist ideas, questioning their validity and implications for society. He argues that while postmodernism may have initially offered valuable insights and critiques, it has ultimately led to a relativistic and nihilistic worldview that undermines the foundations of knowledge, morality, and social cohesion. [5]

What’s real? How do you know, and so what?

Events happening in Israel and Gaza have brought some renewed conviction to some that, indeed, the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is at hand. With so much information and confusing contradictions, there is a place to find a still true voice.

Back to the foundation of all Truth

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8. I am convinced that God has a way of speaking to his people, and his people will hear and follow his lead as he has promised. His voice alone can lead us to the Truth, to himself, for he is the Truth.

[1] Stephen Ronald Craig Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, First edition (Tempe, Arizona: Scholarly Publishing, 2004).

[2] Hicks.

[3] http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0259-94222013000100079

[4] Pew Research Center, “Tolerance and Tension: Isram and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa,” April 2010, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2010/04/15/traditional-african-religious-beliefs-and-practices-islam-and-christianity-in-sub-saharan-africa/.

[5] Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism.

About the Author


Jean de Dieu Ndahiriwe

Jean de Dieu Ndahiriwe is a Clinical Correctional Chaplain and former Child Refugee from War-torn Rwanda. A member of the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team, Jean is passionate about Servant Leadership and looks forward to seeing more leaders that inspire Lasting Peace and Justice for all, especially "the least of these".

8 responses to “What’s real? How do you know, and so what?”

  1. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Jean de Dieu
    Thank you for your perspective. You offer an interesting perspective wit the collision of multiple religious perspectives. How did you or others navigate the various tensions around the competing worldviews?
    I agree that postmodernism is not a helpful in this context (or any) as you quote Hicks, “He argues that while postmodernism may have initially offered valuable insights and critiques, it has ultimately led to a relativistic and nihilistic worldview that undermines the foundations of knowledge, morality, and social cohesion.”
    Thank you for offering your perspective.

  2. Thanks Chad,
    I think it is a continuous challenge to many. I believe knowing Jesus makes a difference. As believers, we have found The foundation of all knowledge.

  3. Jean,

    Great post, you did a great job relating this to a modern day problem with the word of God. Well done!

  4. Thanks Greg,
    God is good and he has the final say for all these issues challenging us,

  5. Jean – Thank you for sharing your transformative story. I’m curious if you were able to maintain much of your African heritage after your conversion to Christianity and your move to the United States. Has that been a tension for you since you became a Christian?

    • Thanks Laura,
      I think I hold my African heritage but nothing in conflict with the Christian faith.
      I came to know the Lord as a young boy; my parents had also become members of the Roman Catholic Church before my birth and did not practice any of the African non-Christian traditions.
      Tensions were there with my departure from the Roman Catholic Church as a young boy, which was going against my parent’s guidance.

  6. mm Becca Hald says:

    Jean, fantastic blog post and fantastic job in the “hot seat.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experience.

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