Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Whose Afraid of Postmodernism? Part 4

We just recently finished a book by James K. A. Smith called Whose Afraid of Postmodernism? I highly recommend this book if you are interested in postmodernism and the implications that its philosophy might have for the future of the church. For the next five post I will be putting up chapter summaries that we were required to write. They are by no means exhaustive but they may give you a taste of some of the content of the book. Check it out!
Chapter Four
Smith’s primary thought is the last sentence in the entire chapter. He concludes, “Conceiving of the church as a disciplinary society aimed at forming human beings to reflect the image of Christ, we will offer an alternative society to the hollow formations of late-modern culture.” Smith’s dance with Foucault is not what I would consider a waltz, perhaps a cha cha, but certainly not an elegant one. We must be careful not to be sucked into Foucault’s classic liberalism of the autonomous individual. Smith bluntly says, “…freedom is an idol of the contemporary church, and we will only properly resist Foucault’s liberalism if we give up our own.” I believe Smith gives a fair critique of the so called “emergent churches” in there embracing of the autonomous individualism of their projects. The tight rope between institution and independence is very narrow.

“Power is knowledge.” Foucault seems to be right in assessing that all power is not evil. We as Christians attest to the greatest power that we in no way would consider evil. It is the use of this power and the ultimate “telos”, as Smith says, that deems the rightness or wrongness of the use of the power. Disciplines have and will continue to be strong and proper ways that we can “…glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

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