Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Whose Afraid of Postmodernism? Part 2
This particular chapter is Smith’s engagement with Derrida and the concept of text and/or context. Derrida’s heralded phrase, “There is nothing outside the text,” sets the framework for the entire discussion. Derrida is also famous for the concept of deconstruction. Unlike many interpretations this word was not originally meant to be used in a negative sense but rather in a positive sense. Deconstruction was always meant to be constructive and positive.
Smith tells us that for Derrida “language is the necessary filter through which the world comes to us.” Our entire world is wrapped up in interpretation. For modernists this can be a very scary thought. Truth, for a modernist, is objective. If something can not be shown to be objectively true then it is written off as false. Smith further goes on to explain that the gospel cannot hold up to this objective truth. To which the modernist would say then the gospel should not be held as truth. It becomes one story among many stories, one interpretation among many interpretations. This may be the case. It does not, however, make the gospel any less true. Smith writes, “…the fact that something is a matter of interpretation does not mean that an interpretation cannot be true or a good interpretation.” He then goes on to suggest a thought experiment about two separate interpretations of the one account of Christ’s crucifixion.
We, as Christians, have nothing to fear from the plurality of the world. If we claim that our story is the truth then it will stand up to the test.