Postmodernism and the dilemma of an appropriate Christian paradigm for ethical descision making

Dissertation, Stellenbosch (2000)
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Abstract
The Church is facing a dilemma in how to apply and live out its message in a postmodern world. For many in the Church an understanding and application of morals and ethics has become bewildering. This assignment attempts to develop a Christian vocabulary and conceptual framework for morality. This is done by firstly elucidating the milieu out of which postmodernism arose. Modernism, through universal claims of reason and instrumental rationality, believed in the ultimate mastery of the world. The failure of the Enlightenment project to develop universal morality and law led to a new perspective on reason and reality and new reflection on life, morality and meaning. Thus, I reflect on the parturition and value of postmodernism through offering an evaluation and critique of the ideology of postmodernism. Next, I propose the need for Christian ideology to be firstly separated from cultural interpretations so as to avoid ethnocentrism and cultural imperialism. After exploring the development and purpose of worldviews I argue for the building of cultural bridges and for the Gospel and Biblical worldview to be suitably encoded. After learning about God's nature as reflected in the narrative of the Prodigal Son I posit an understanding of what postmodern ethics entails and how then to define and respond to ethical issues. Through case studies I apply the key principles identified in the study. These are that moderation is a virtue; that many timeless truths are customary truths that arise in a specific historical/cultural situations; that many problems are not ethical issues but are rather a comprehension and/or a misinterpretation of the Scriptures regarding what it means to be a Christian and how we are to live our Christian profession to mention a few. I reason and plead for a Christian ethical system of incarnational engaged compassion in a postmodern world. I hope this academic paper stimulates critical theological reflection whilst hopefully illuminating and enlightening the reader
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