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On my two unforgivable sins

June 12th, 2010 | 2 min read

By Christopher Benson

Mr. Anderson got the last laugh as he departed the country, exposing my two unforgivable sins: a sympathy with postmodernism and an education at Wheaton College.

Regarding the first sin, I confess to being a shameless “pomo” and insist that we’re all “pomo” now, as James K. A. Smith summarizes in his preface to Carl Raschke’s GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn:

Postmodernism and globalization are inextricably linked. While European and North American (especially academic) discussions of postmodern theory tend to restrict it to the safe but largely sequestered environs of epistemology, in fact postmodernity is synonymous with the “flattening” of the world by globalization. The postmodern moment, as Raschke puts it, is a global one: “Becoming postmodern means that we all, whether we like it or not, are now going global, which is what that obscure first-century sect leader from Palestine truly had in mind.” We can’t not be postmodern precisely because we can’t not be global(ized). So postmodernism isn’t about whether we’ll serve fair trade coffee at our image-driven worship events aimed at the “creative class” in the “bobo” quarter of the city. Postmodernism isn’t just a phenomenon of interest to the educated class of Western culture or just a topic of conversation for tenured radicals taken with continental philosophy. Rather, it is bound up with the global conflicts and reorganizations that dominate world affairs and foreign policy. The realities of postmodernism are grappled with by Amnesty International and the UN, not just the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. And so the question of Christian faith and postmodernism is about how Christian faith can be communicated and lived out in a world of mass migration, persistent genocide, increased gaps in global wealth distribution, and the growth of global Islam.

Regarding the second sin, I proudly boast my credentials as a “Wheatie” and will rib any “Biolan” who challenges the unrivaled academy of American evangelicalism. (Notice how the former identity may be associated with a healthy breakfast cereal while the second may be associated with an infectious disease.) Did Biola make it into Loren Pope‘s list of 40 colleges that change lives? As he wrote, “Wheaton is often called the Harvard of the evangelicals but that moniker does not do it  justice because it is head, shoulders, and heart above Harvard in its concern with good moral compasses and strong value systems, as well as in the percentage of future Ph.D.s it has turned out.” And did Biola make it into Robert Benne‘s book, Quality with a Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith With Their Religious Traditions? Those six were Calvin College, Wheaton College, St. Olaf College, Valparaiso University, Baylor University, and University of Notre Dame. If I do envy one thing about Biola, it’s the Torrey Honors Institute, which offers an attractive liberal arts and biblical studies program.