Charts - Index

Postmodern Culture

    This is just a humble attempt to organize and simplify some of the complexities of today's global transformation. If we don't understand the postmodern mindset and the changing worldviews of influential leaders and visionaries, we can't really prepare for the impact of this social revolution -- both on faith and evangelization.  

See note below and Biblical versus Postmodern thinking 

Traditional emphasis

Post-modern emphasis

Facts, observation and logic

Feelings, imagination (vision), speculation

Trust absolute truth

Reject absolute truth - construct your own meaning

Biblical Monotheism - only know God through Christ Spiritual pluralism - all religions are equal

Individual thinking and choices

Group thinking

Moral values based on the Bible

Moral relativism - base values on feelings. Create your own values...

Objective [factual] knowledge

Rejects objective knowledge. Fill vacuum with evolving visions driven by subjective wants and group thinking

Sexual boundaries fixed by God

License to choose ones own sexual identity

Logical, scientific perspective

Open to mysticism and spiritual exploration

Emphasize doctrine

Emphasize story and personal discovery

Objective teaching and Biblical evangelism

Subjective dialogue and feel-good experiences

"Other gods" are forbidden

Other gods and cultures encourage spiritual growth

Church: God's people worldwide - saved by faith, filled with His Spirit, living by His Word and strength

Church: an evolving concept in need of re-visioning and reconstruction to fit the changing culture

The above chart is only an attempt to begin to define these terms. That's not easy, because the post-modern culture itself defies certainty or absoluteness.


Since these words seem to have different meaning among different people in our today's culture, we have welcomed insights from other perspectives. Unless we speak the same language and share common definitions, we cannot communicate with each other.


While we plan to upgrade the above chart as God leads and we gain more insight, we will post comments, suggestions and responses from our visitors below. In other words, the rest of this page will represent views and voices other than our own.   


From Tristan: I wanted to give you some feedback. There is a sort of natural tension in this since I know that you are using the chart to reflect religious thought and both concepts are not aimed at religion in particular. Even so, your presentation of "Modernity" makes it look like a philosophy created to support conservative Christianity. That is a supposition that is not supportable.

Modernity is not "antithetical" to religion but if one were to point to a Christian tradition that most aligns with Modernity it would likely be a Jeffersonian "deism". Given that, Modernity is certainly more supportive of conservative Christianity then Post-modernity.

I reworked your chart to better reflect what I think the two sides say. It is *not* perfect as I struggled to balance a Foucault idea of Post-modernity while still speaking to the religious issues that you are trying to look at. I have really struggled to be fair to both sides.

You will note that in a number of instances I thought your comparisons were fairly valid. The most regular change that I made was taking the explicitly Christian language out and moving to a broader "absolutist" term. This does not negate the Christian ideal but Modernity was not and is not an explicitly Christian philosophy. It actually tends to embrace an absolutist science point of view. Anyway, I hope you find this at least interesting.

Thank you, Tristan, for your helpful comments. Since postmodernism is, by its own definition, in a state of continual change, it is especially interesting to see this chart from a perspective that differs from my own.


I am posting your chart below. Since we had already changed the chart by the time you re-worked it, I adjusted the outline to our latest version. Your suggestions help us understand how both Christians and non-Christians use these terms.

Modernity Post-modernity

Facts, observation and logic

Facts and truth are created by assumptions

Trust absolute truth

Reject absolute truth - point out assumptions

Biblical Monotheism - One absolute truth Spiritual pluralism - all religions require assumptive reasoning and are therefore equal

Relationship with reality by attempting to discern the absolutes

Relationship with the group that benefits you the most

Faith doctrines of absolutism: base beliefs, values and hope on a revealed doctrine

Moral relativism: base beliefs, values and hope on agreed upon doctrine

Objective knowledge (religious, mathematical, historical record, etc.) that support absolutist doctrine

Seeks objective knowledge and reworks doctrines to include or ignore said knowledge

Follow Biblical or cultural standards which are considered inherently correct

Create your own standards and values: society should grant as much right to this as possible

Sexual guidelines and boundaries fixed by absolutist doctrine

Humans free to choose their own sexuality and identity.

Judge right and wrong by absolute standards

No right or wrong lifestyles except those agreed upon

Hard scientific or religious perspective favored

Radical science (chaos theory, shrodinger’s cat) and transcendent, mysterious spirituality favored

Emphasize creed or logical proposition

Emphasize story, personal discovery, journey...

Desires to see all embrace the absolutist doctrine

Celebrates a diversity of post-modern spirituality.

Biblical evangelism makes sense Biblical truth irrelevant (dismiss whatever doesn’t feel compatible with personal journey)

Contact with "other gods" forbidden. and promised personal peace and oneness through Christ alone.

Other gods and culture produce ultimate peace and oneness to their believers.

From Tristan: I'm afraid you have misrepresented me somewhat. The most important changes I made were to the "Modernity" side replacing the biblical and Christian language with a more neutral absolutist language. The chart you have put up  does not accurately represent what I sent you. Its fairly close and the language is open to interpretation so i can see how we both might be reading it differently (a very post-modern problem).

For example, under Modernity you have "Biblical Monotheism - only know God through Christ." But the philosophy of modernity does inherently take a stance on Christianity. What I think you are saying (and this would be accurate) is that Christianity viewed from modernity would be Biblical Monotheism - only know God through Christ (or at least it would be arguable).

I had changed that category to "Monotheism - One absolute truth. I had assumed that this
comparison was a what does modernity have to say about religion. Since absolute truth is the foundation of modernity it tends to be atheistic or monotheistic. This then makes a sensible comparison to the post modern category in which I wrote Spiritual Pluralism - all religions require assumptive reasoning.

Post modernism assumes that there is either no absolute or it cannot be known. Thus all religions are equally "valid" (not equally moral or human or anything else just valid in terms of absoluteness). If the category is the Bible as viewed from the perspective of the philosophy then the post modern side should say something like "Variety of biblical interpretation results in many possible Christian paths."

I came up with this fix [the chart below] which I think works well. Its informative and pretty accurate. I think even a post modernist would look at the chart and say, "yea, that's pretty good". I think its balanced and presents the point of views without being pejorative to either side. I would really really love to hear what other visitors to your site think.


A Christian Modernist…

A Christian Post-modernist

Believes in the absolute reality of facts, observation and logic

Believes that facts and truth are tainted by the observer

Trusts absolute truth

Reject absolute truth and points out the assumptions that truths are based on

Is a Biblical monotheist and believes in one absolute truth

Is a spiritual pluralist and believes all religions require assumptive reasoning and are therefore equal

Has a relationship with reality based on attempting to discern the absolutes

Has a relationship with the group whose view of reality benefits him/her the most

Has faith in a doctrines of absolutism and bases beliefs, values and hope on a revealed doctrine

Is a moral relativist and bases beliefs, values and hope on an agreed upon doctrine

Seeks objective knowledge (religious, mathematical, historical record, etc.) that supports their absolutist doctrine

Seeks objective knowledge and reworks doctrines to include or ignore said knowledge

Wants society to follow Biblical or cultural standards which are considered inherently correct

Wants to set their own standards and values and believes that society should grant as much right to this as possible

Believes that sexual guidelines and boundaries are fixed by absolutist doctrine

Believes that humans are free to choose their own sexuality and identity.

Judges right and wrong by absolute standards

Judges right and wrong upon agreed standards but recognizes that those standards may change

Favors favors a Newtonian view of the universe

Favors an Einsteinian view of the universe

Emphasizes creed or logical proposition

Emphasizes story, personal discovery, journey...

Desires to see all embrace the absolutist doctrine

Celebrates a diversity of post-modern spirituality.

Sees that Biblical evangelism makes sense

Sees that Biblical truth is relative and dismisses whatever doesn’t feel compatible with personal journey

Believes that contact with "other gods" is forbidden and that promised personal peace and oneness can only come through Christ.

Believes that other gods and cultures can produce ultimate peace and oneness to their believers.

Comment from a Physicist: "Just a quick question. Have you ever studied quantum mechanics? If not I would like to know how you know enough to characterize Shrodinger’s Cat Paradox as "Radical Science"? [This point has been deleted from the chart above] Yes everyone is allowed to criticize science on an equal basis, but a person usually provides proof instead of making baseless accusations. The paradox and the ideas that came from it are part of the basis of Quantumn Mechanics which has been proven EXPERIMENTALLY to a certainty beyond any other branch of science. The fact that the universe is very different than how the normal layman pictures it, the basic make up of the universe is waves that do not have a well defined position or velocity or momentumn not particles that do, has been PROVEN by Bell's Theorem published by J.S. Bell in 1964 in the periodical Physics page 195 and re-proven hundreds of times by other researches including myself in graduate school. Please post this so your readers do not get a skewed vision of TRUE science. A real Physicist

Reply from Tristan: I suppose I used that characterization because I did not think of it as pejorative. I can see how someone else would though, so, my mistake. What I was striving for (and obviously failing) is that the "observer" effect that Shrodinger's Cat proposes is an anathema to the absolutist ideals of a "modernist". On the other hand it dovetails nicely with the relativist perspective of a post-modernist.

Modernist philosophy has its roots in a Newtonian Materialist view that everything, given enough information, can be known. Quantum mechanics -- with its observer effect and the admission that position and velocity cannot both be determined (light is a wave and a particle simultaneously etc.etc.) -- led to a challenge of modernist philosophy.

Comment from Mike:    Reading this page, I was struck by the rather arrogant comments from "a physicist". I thought readers of this page might appreciate the opportunity to read an alternative view of the "TRUE science" of quantum physics by someone who is certainly qualified to comment.


One excerpt: [Since Heisenberg is one of the most important contributors to the Copenhagen interpretation, let us take his own assessment. Heisenberg [1.5] states clearly: "The law of causality is no longer applied in quantum theory."

In order to be coherent, physicists today should no longer try to find the cause of a physical phenomenon. According to Heisenberg's statement, there is no cause, it is simple magic. Greenberger [1.6] uses the same expression and states simply, "Quantum Mechanics is Magic".

Much more recently, following the use of the Copenhagen interpretation, Feynman [1.7] concludes:
"The theory of quantum electrodynamics describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiments. So I hope you can accept Nature as she is - absurd."

Thanks Mike, for your contribution. This is way over my head, so I can't evaluate your insights or your source. But I do agree with one point: From a strictly human, rational and mathematical perspective, nature -- that is, all of creation -- would indeed be absurd, or beyond scientific or evolutionary explanations. See What Darwin didn't know

For background information, see:

The UN Plan for Your Mental Health

Brainwashing in America

Local Agenda 21 - The U.N. Plan for Your Community

Two UN Summits, One Millennium

     To see how these terms are used by church leaders today, go to The Postmodern Church. For a similar but simpler chart, see Paradigm Shift

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