Recently I have written a paper which presents an analogy between elements of postmodernism and Christian Gnosticism. (Scroll down for download link)
By now it is obvious that the progressive rise of postmodern thinking has affected all modern fields of inquiry, whether scientific or religious. The heated and ongoing debate over “gender identity” in the United States has certainly drawn science, faith, and politics together in a powerful and polarizing way, and in this debate postmodernism has clearly been a driving force.
Indeed, it is precisely the influence of postmodernism in the field of physical anthropology that has enabled a new worldview which argues that “biology is culture,” and that politically and ideologically driven scientists are responsible for producing social constructs relative to human sexuality. Human beings, in this view, must free themselves from the prison of these oppressive social constructs and recognize, through personal experience, who and what they truly are.
Today these arguments represent a significant challenge not only to scientific-realist perspectives on anthropology but to the standard Christian worldview. But a study of early Christian history reveals the surprising fact that Christianity has already experienced similar challenges as those presented by postmodern anthropology in its early encounter with “Gnosticism.”
My paper analyzes both postmodernism’s anthropological rebellion as well as Christian Gnosticism’s religious revolt in antiquity, and in this I believe we find both striking parallels and some important differences. This analogy ultimately proves, I think, to be more than a fancy for the historian–it is a substrate on which to form a better perspective of our modern world, and a way forward for Christians looking to navigate it.
Read and/or download the full paper here.