How do Postmodernist and Social Constructionist values clash/mesh with Christian beliefs? Also, is it possible to assimilate those beliefs?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most direct way that Postmodernism and Social Constructionism clash with Christian beliefs is that both reject transcendence.  Christian beliefs are rooted in the presence of transcendence in consciousness. Social Constructionism clashes with this.  As Social Constructionism stresses that "the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world," it is not congruent with the unity that Christianity presents.  At the same time, social construction "assumes that understanding, significance, and meaning are developed not separately within the individual, but in coordination with other human beings."  With its emphasis on the divine as the seat of all, Christianity would clash with such a belief system.  At the same time, Christian thought does not seek to coordinate its own values set with other human beings.  Rather, it seeks to orient the individual towards embracing the notion of the good that Christ articulated. 

At the same time, Postmodernism's rejection of totality in all forms would apply to rejecting what is asserted in Christianity.  Postmodernism's  use of "concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning" would clash with Christianity.  Postmodernism would seek to fundamentally challenge the universal notion intrinsic to Christianity.  At the same time, the Postmodern frame of reference believes in "the other" and asserts this idea as contrary to any dominant reality.  This would clash with Christianity, which asserts that the model of Christ is the dominant mode of being in the world.  

In both modes of thought, the very idea of how that which is unknown plagues the individual would challenge Christianity.  Social constructionism and Postmodernism both accept a healthy amount of questioning in their praising of "jointly developed" understandings of being as well as understanding "the other."  At its core, Christianity asserts that individuals "know" through the example of Christ.  This is where knowledge begins and ends for the Christian, a specific expression of all- knowing totality that is strongly questioned in both modes of thought.

Naturally, it becomes difficult to find any integration of beliefs if committed to binary dualism.  If an individual is committed that Postmodernism or Social Construction is the only possible way to view reality, assimilation is difficult. In much the same way, the modern condition is one in which proponents of Christianity have to recognize the validity of other faith systems.  Other religions exist in the world, and their presence is just as spiritually nourishing to them as Christianity is to its followers.  

Within such an understanding, an assimilation of beliefs can be recognized.  If individuals can assert that within the "inner citadel" of thought, they are free to construct their own being in the world, then it is possible to live amongst a world where "the other" exists, where "jointly constructed" notions of reality live, as well as Christian ideas. The example that Christ set can be internally meditated upon as a part of individual understanding. It can be totalizing as far as the individual believes and towards which the individual pledges loyalty. The individual recognizes that Postmodernism and Social Construction can exist, while taking Christian tenets in their own subjective experience and narrative.