Modernity is part of the water in which we as swim and breathe as fishes in Western culture. P. E. Gobry has written a blog post in which he attempts to “reconcile” Modernity and Christianity, and thereby realize what value there is to be found in Modernity, as well as find avenues of Christian criticisms of Modernity that actually make sense.

It’s an interesting piece that raises a lot of questions. Gobry’s goal, one which I very much endorse, is “productive understanding”. I don’t find all of his paradigms to be as “productive” as I could wish; to be honest, the very term “original sin” makes me wince these days, being a provocative, polarizing term for something that could be described more constructively. But the goal is a rare and refreshing one in a Christian writer.

My biggest criticism is that he stopped writing a bit too soon (a rare criticism for me to make) — I would love to see him offer a similar treatment of Postmodernity.

(Keep in mind, Modernism : Modernity :: Postmodernism : Postmodernity. Roughly speaking, the first item in each pair is the philosophy, the second is the corresponding era and/or resulting social conditions.)

The thought behind my wish for a treatment of postmodernity was simple. If modernity involved adopting “an ethic of epistemic humility”, surely post-modernity vastly exceeds it in that regard? Does Gobry see postmodernism’s rejection of all universal-truth narratives as extensions of modernism’s project against idolatry? If epistemic humility is fundamentally anti-idolatry, surely it should be taken as far as it can go?

Postmodernity may be hard to define but surely whatever it has to say about human limitedness is at least as near the surface as what Gobry has extracted from modernity.

Joel (Author) ·