C. Stephen Evans was not expecting to encounter the subject he teaches at Calvin College—philosophy—when he flipped on a country radio station. In this excerpt from the May/June 1997 issue of Books & Culture: A Christian Review, a sister publication of Christianity Today, Evans invites us to wake up with him to the pervasive influence of postmodernism. Evans is author of The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith (Oxford University Press).
My work requires frequent trips from southwest Michigan to the Chicago area. Driving I-94 around the southern tip of Lake Michigan does not rank high on my list of favorite things to do. Recently I found myself dodging semis and potholes once again. Drowsiness prompted me to switch from a soporific clarinet concerto and begin station surfing. An oldies station is my stimulant of choice on the highway. Nothing gets us baby boomers cranked like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, or Motown. Alas, no oldies station was in range. But my attention was suddenly riveted by a powerful surge from a country-and-western station.
"It's all interpretation. To find the truth you gotta read between the lines." The singer blared those lines in a typically nasal but not unpleasant voice. I was instantly wide awake. I had always thought there was probably more truth in your typical country-and-western song than in your average philosophical treatise. However, I had not counted on a group of good ole boys from Nashville latching onto the latest French fashions designed by Foucault and Derrida.
Recently I had helped organize a seminar on "Postmodernism and Christianity" led by philosopher Merold Westphal. On Westphal's reading, postmodernism emphasizes two great themes. One is what Nicholas Wolterstorff ...1