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C.S. Lewis on Postmodernism

Although C.S. Lewis (1898- 1963) lived before the full flowering of postmodernism, some of its roots were already present in his day. While Lewis would certainly be an opponent of postmodernists’ denial of objective truth and morality, at many points he makes observations similar to postmodern philosophers. Perhaps, then, he can help us see both what is right and what is wrong with postmodernism.

What is Postmodernism?

Postmodernism has both philosophical and cultural aspects. I can only touch on the former here. Jean-François Lyotard, French postmodern philosopher defines postmodernism as an “incredulity towards metanarratives.” In other words, this school of thought is suspicious of any narrative, story, or account of the world that claims to be absolute or all-encompassing—a “meta”-narrative. Postmodernists are suspicious of such claims not only because of the limits of reason, but also because such perspectives have been oppressive. For instance, Nazism and Marxism give a comprehensive account of the world, and both have been extremely oppressive. Consider the atrocities committed by Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao Tse-tung. Christianity also provides a comprehensive story that proceeds from eternity to creation, fall, redemption, the Second Coming of Christ, a new heaven and a new earth, and eternal life. Certainly, there have been times of oppression such as the Crusades and the Inquisition. Could it be that all metanarratives necessarily lead to oppression? This is what postmodernists suggest. Note here that oppression is believed to be objectively evil. They are right. However, on what grounds can postmodernists claim that it is evil? . . . .

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Arthur W. Lindsley

Arthur W. Lindsley is the Vice President of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Works, & Economics. He has served at the C.S. Lewis Institute since 1987 both as President until 1998 and currently as Senior Fellows for Apologetics. Formerly, he was director of Educational Ministries at the Ligonier Valley Study Center, and Staff Specialist with the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He is the author of C.S. Lewis's Case for Christ, True Truth, Love: The Ultimate Apologetic, and co-author with R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner of Classical Apologetics, and has written numerous articles on theology, apologetics, C.S. Lewis, and the lives and works of many other authors and teachers. Art earned his M.Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.  

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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