Modern society is characterized by ideas and ideologies of relativism, awash with sweeping claims like “It may be true for some and not necessarily everyone”. Contemporary society is also marked by the prevalence of multiculturalism, acculturation, and the influence of pro-choice advocates and lobbyists who are pushing for the pursuit and establishment of relativist models, standards, and values of living. The foregoing has been adopted on many fronts in contemporary society and has become key and core moral principles of modern society. The foregoing nuances constitute what has been called postmodernism. Postmodernism is the relativist ethical rhetoric theoretical framework that underlies such claims, thrusts, and conceptualizations that have pervading influence and impact on the human way of life. From a deeper philosophical and ideological perspective, postmodernism can be interpreted as the evolution from the typical modern values of rationalism, pragmatism as well as dogmatism, and what theologians call veneered religiosity. This has been replaced by the sweeping value of spirituality, relativity, and pluralism, among a host of other values.
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The postmodernist thrust has various tenets and features that are by and large antithetical to the principles and other aspects of Christianity. Penner Myron (2005, pp,45) notes that one major point of divergence is the aspect of truth. Christianity is founded on accepting and embracing the word of God as absolute truth for which are there are no equivalent and/or alternative perspectives. Postmodernism is remarkably characterized by the notion that “It depends on how you see it”. As such postmodernists present that truth is subjective and thus reject the claims of God as absolute and objective. This has caused contention and controversy in modern society with two models of morality pulling the society asunder. The Christian movement has denounced postmodernism as a diabolical ideology that seeks to undermine the authority and power of God’s claims and word. Subjectivism is a major exponent of Christianity and because of its tenets, postmodernism plays well into models of overt and covert heathenism which denies the existence and the power of God and His word.
Milbank, John (2005, p, 23) observes that one of the things to note of the postmodernism ideology is that its elaborate and rudimentary forms and implications have crept into the church itself. “The influence of postmodernism has been experienced across the churches of the world. What we see in the modern-day church are assembles that are more accommodating to the world, its values, its lifestyle and regrettably so, its subjective interpretation of the word of God”. (Milbank, John 2005, p. 101) The scholar cites that the foregoing is part of the reason why there are so many dissonant churches in the world today. He also insinuates that the creeping of postmodernism into the church has caused so much controversy around the interpretation of God’s word underscoring that postmodernism has been part of the root causes for antagonism within the society and even within the Christendom.
It is notable that one remarkable difference between postmodernism and early modernism is that early modernism rejected Christianity’s aspects of revelation and the afterlife. The early modernists shared common beliefs and confidence in science to unearth the truth or at least ascertain the political and natural aspects of the world. “What can be noted clearly about post-modernism is that there is an explicit rejection of the professed objectivity like that of the moderns” (Milbank John 2005, p. 102) This has come with the replacement of the typical modern ideological perspectives on objectivity with subjectivity”. The scholar continues to note that for postmodernists, the truth is not discovered but created. This has an evasive and negative impact on the advancements that Christianity seeks to make in getting the world to accept the word of God and God’s plan for humanity as the only model of a meaningful life and eternal prosperity. As such postmodernism does not come as a new model of unearthing universal truths since in essence, it comes as a way of refuting universal truths.
The objectivity of the Christian message is leveraged on the imports like that of the epistle of Paul to Timothy which states categorically that the Word of God is not for any private interpretation. What it means is that the word of God is objective and must not be subjected to any individualistic and conditional perceptions. “The claims in the Bible itself are a direct repudiation of the import and conceptual entrails of postmodernism”. (Milbank, John 2005, pp, 103) The scholar notes that God in His word has sought to unite the world and not divide it. The unity model of God entails harmony and coherence in perspectives, seeing things in an invariably similar light and these are the very principals of Christianity that postmodernism seeks to refute. Postmodernism has thus thwarted efforts and strides to unite all Christendom into one perspective and has even fed the dissonances characterizing the subjectivized interpretation of the Bible even within Christendom.
The battle between Christianity and post-modernism is largely illuminable in the social realms of contemporary society. These include sociological and psychological of unraveling human complexes and dilemmas. Anderson, N. T et al (2000, pp, 34) on the Christ-Centered social therapies leverage on the Biblical establishment that human beings were created in the image of God and hence any way living that deviates from the standards set or God will result in individual problems which will ramify as societal problems. What is underscored in the Christ-Centered therapies is that all problems must be perceived as arising from the human’s basic sinful form. The author outlines that problems arise from the fundamental reality of rebelling against God. The thrust has tapped in insights of Charles Allen (2001, p. 65) who asserts that the very essence and role of religion is to adjust the mind as well as the soul of man. In his conceptual premise, social healing is viewed as means of bringing an individual into a proper relationship with the physical, mental, and spiritual laws of God.
In practice, the Christ-Centered Therapies have taken into the cognizance of some typically post-modernist approaches to social problems. One such postmodern typical approach to social issues is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (also known as cognitive behavior therapy, CBT) is defined as a postmodernist psychotherapeutic model designed to influence problematic as well as dysfunctional emotions, behaviors as well as cognition through a goal-focused systematic process. CBT has often used an inclusive term of reference to other forms of psychological therapy that derive from the theoretical framework from the behavioristic learning model as well as cognitive psychology. The term is also used to refer to all methods and approaches of transformation that are based on the theories outlined above. Like the Christian approach to problems, which is based on drawing the soul (mind) of men closer to the source of Life l God in a working relationship through changing an individual’s world’s view, postmodernist models of social therapy like the CBT framework have helped illumine the significance of changing an individual’s mindset in executing social therapy.
Anderson, N. T et al (2000, p. 65) have underscored in the featured source that there is a point of confluence in which theology can be integrated with some models of postmodernist psychology. The scholars have upheld that humans were created as special organisms, created in the image of God. The major thrust on social healing that the scholars present is based on that since our life comes from God, solutions to problems that affect humans must not be sought independently but humans must consistently seek the guidance of God who is always there to guide and lead every individual to the desired state of life. The post-modernist CBT model strives to contextualize the social ills in broader philosophical precincts within which individuals and society exist and function. Similarly the Christian approach to social problems. The CBT model establishes causes of problems as extrinsic to the victim; these may be political, social, and even spiritual. This presents that postmodernism is not totally alien and entirely antithetical to the tenets of Christianity.
In a postmodernist exponential thrust the spiritual resolution to problems and challenges as outlined in source by Tan, S. Y., & Ortberg, J. (2004, p. 7) advocates for the application of Godly measures that will tap into the merits of the inner healing power of prayer, scripture reading, and meditation. The other perspective grounded on the Spiritual model holds human problems as emanating from maladaptive, conditioning and the acquisition of new behavior. The thrust reinforces the support for individuals to gain control over their lives through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As an illustration, this model debunks the claims by postmodernist theorists and therapists the substance abuse predicament related to depression can be surmounted either via mere abstinence or regulated use of drugs or alcohol. The thrust by Tan, S. Y., & Ortberg, J. (2004) underscores that no efforts to curtail any problems of this kind can suffice with human solutions that downplay and exclude the godly measures provided by God in his word and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The core postmodernist and Christian perspective on the subject of ills related to individual and societal problem resolution nonetheless concur that the problem has to be placed within the broader precincts of the factors that characterize the environment of the affected individual. The practical application of the model has in several social therapy cases employed the thrust of bolstering subjects’ morale and self-concepts. There can be noted in many experiential cases that the enunciation of an individual’s positive environments and personal attributes in the aim to salvage their esteem and embolden their self-concept identifies with conceptual tenets of the Spiritual model advanced by the scholars (Op, Cit, p. 54).
The scholars also advocate for the consideration of the external factors that can also be used to map a framework that constitutes the source of an individual’s problems culminating in and from depression. The problems can be social like poverty, unemployment, etc. In practice, the Christian and postmodernist perspectives have also been used harmoniously when problems of such nature facing individuals are contextualized within broader socio-cultural and sometimes political factors. This Christian thrust argues for the interventions that will focus on reducing the environmental stresses that push people into depression by underscoring that the power of God cannot be subdued by any perceived external circumstances that are thought to present problems to an individual.
The social rehabilitation process entailed the enlightening of the subject on a plethora of serious health repercussions culminating from the excessive intake of alcohol. Wetterling T; Junghanns K (2000, pp, 64) notes that “The Christian approaches are applicable to all populations. The approach will always strive for a link between the subjects’ problems and the unrelenting efforts of the Devil to afflict souls and thus create a distance between humanity and their God by making people feel destitute”. The underscoring of the power of God in the guidance of the Holy through social healing processes comes as a debunking of the postmodernist ego-centered social therapy that traces certain social ills such as substance abuse to familial holds.
The postmodernist intervention models have thus seen the incorporation of the significance and recognition of these variables and factors in its thrust at unraveling social therapy for an individual in diverse and oppressed populaces whilst the Christianity based intervention approach recognize the impact of external factors on individuals’ problems, the Christian oriented models do not uphold the focus on the external factors as points where a feasible panacea can be generated as do many postmodernist perspectives.
The Christian perspectives defy the claimed powers of any holds in the dynamics of social ills and therapy emphasizing the essence of power God in overcoming the root source for all the physical and spiritual problems of humanity; the Devil. On another dimension, the postmodernist Ego-Oriented Intervention practice of this model emphasizes more so the significance of the aspect of self-awareness.
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Whilst this model focuses on self, Christian perspectives have been remarkably distinguishable by their emphasis on Christ (God). The bottom line for Christian perspectives on psychology and social therapy is that, without necessarily downplaying the role that humans have to play in the process that deals with their development, God is the ultimate source of success and triumph in any challenges.
What has characterized developments in the sociological development developments of approaches in contemporary society is the question of which if the two classic cultural concepts, cultural relativism (postmodernist) or universalism are appropriate for framing up feasible solutions and approaches to understanding humanity and shaping society.
One major battleground between Christianity and postmodernism is the regard of the ‘self’ concept. Christianity asserts that human beings are born of sin hence they are inherently carnal. The perspective underscores the need for humans to seek the redeeming and restoring power and grace of God. Most importantly Christianity calls for humans to renounce themselves and thus be Christ-like. Contrary to this postmodernism has underscored the importance of self, popular makers of postmodernism proponents are expressions like, ‘If you like it go for it.’, ‘ as long as it suits you’, ‘If you are Ok with it then it’s alright. Evidently, the philosophy of post-modernism elevates sinful man above the need to renounce sinful self and adopt a new nature offered by Christ. The major bone of contention on this dimension is that postmodernism overrides the fundamental reality held by Christianity that humanity needs to transform. Postmodernism is happy with the state of humans hence is protracted emphasis on self.
Culture can be defined as the sum total of a people’s values, norms, beliefs, attitudes, and customs, etc. Cultural Universalism holds that cultures that originate in one point are; and must be mutually compatible. The concept embraces the notion that there is one ideal model of human rights and a global way of doing things (Culture). Universalism flies at the core of contemporary human rights statutes. This concept undermines the essence of treating each problem scenario independently and objectively and according to Zhou, Qing; King, Kevin M et al (2006, pp, 45) may fail to facilitate the development of feasible solutions as it may undermine a subject’s cultural distinctiveness. Christianity on another level is typically Universalist but recognizes every unique dynamic and dimension and then underscores that God’s power is sufficient for all kinds of challenges that humans face.
The understating of a people’s culture and all its scope and conceptual extensions together with other associative dimensions is imperative for any social matter exploration. Universalism holds at its core that there is a foundational human union that regards all individuals as entitled to basic rights regardless of their race, origins and religious beliefs, or otherwise. From another perspective, cultural Relativists hold that cultures are intrinsically dissonant; that the cultures of the world can not be thought to be compatible neither can they be blended. The concepts are largely based on the perception of culture according to a people’s racial, tribal, and ethnic attributes.
The two classic positions on culture have come under the spotlight for various demerits that each of them possesses reasons. Although the Universalist notion has been denounced for its view on an envisaged rigid, idealistic, and impractical culture and human social model, the classical culture position holds some notable merits for the multi-faceted approaches to social problem resolution and some of its imports can be entailed in paradigms of the Christianity model of interpreting and developing humanity.
- Penner, Myron. Christianity and the Postmodern Turn, six views. Grand Rapids, Michigan: BrazosPress, 2005
- Westphal, Merold. Suspicion & Faith. New York: Fordham University Press; 1998
- Milbank, John. Theology & Social Theory; Beyond Secular Reason. 2nd Edition, USA: Blackwell Publishing; 2006
- Neil T. Anderson, Terry E. Zuehlke, Julianne S. Zuehlke, Christ-centered Therapy: The Practical Integration of Theology and Psychology, Zondervan, NYK, US, 2000
- Tan, S. Y., & Ortberg, J, Coping with depression (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004
- Parton, N,Some Thoughts on the Relationship between Theory and Practice in and for Social Work, British Journal of Social Work, London, UK, 2000
- Gary R. VandenBos, ed, APA Dictionary of Psychology, 1st ed, Washington: American Psychological Association, 2007