Monday, September 07, 2009

JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE: Why Truth Matters Most: An Apologetic for Truth-Seeking in Postmodern Times

Groothuis, Douglas R. “Why Truth Matters Most: An Apologetic for Truth-Seeking in Postmodern Times.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47 no 3 (September 2004): 441-454.

Dr. Douglas Groothuis[i] boldly explores why objective truth matters and encourages his readers to be truth-seekers in the postmodern times in which we now live.

Groothuis begins his apologetic with a thorough discussion about the relationship between truth, self-deception, and personal virtue. He then ably moves on to discuss humility and how it is related to the quest for truth, intellectual apathy, and truth-avoiding diversions. Dr. Groothuis concludes with a brief discussion of the truth attracting possibilities of silence where he challenges the truth-denier to become a truth-seeker.

Approaching his topic from the perspective of a conservative Christian and veteran educator, Groothuis uses philosophical arguments to point out the flaws of the postmodern view of objective truth. Not only does Groothuis argue against the views expressed by previous generations such as Fredrich Nietzsche[ii], he also directly confronts contemporaries such as John Stackhouse[iii] and Jonathon Rauch[iv] head on. The strength in Groothuis’ arguments lie in the fact that he uses the language and very views of the postmodernist to his advantage in refuting the thoughts set forth by their authors.

If there be any weakness in Groothuis’ arguments, one may find them in the slightly confrontational nature of the approach. As an apologetic, the arguments are solid and easily provide a voice for those in the Christian academic community who are pushing back against the constant onslaught of postmodernism in American society. For the layperson, the headiness of the references and philosophical constructs may be a bit much to comprehend though I do not imagine scholarly journals are the topic of discussion in Sunday School classes.

With a writing style that is very readable and easy to follow, Groothuis effectively provides balance to what is commonly a lopsided discussion. Perhaps a follow up will be authored that unpacks the notion of casting oneself on the mercies of whatever truth may exist.

[i] Douglas R. Groothuis, PhD. (University of Oregon, philosophy, 1993) is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, P.O. Box 100,000, Denver, CO 80250-0100.

[ii] Groothuis cites Fredrich Nietzsche’s revulsion at the horrible thought of a Holy and all-knowing God looking upon the sin of humanity in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra in The Portable Nietzsche (ed. Walter Kaufmann; New York: Viking, 1979) 379.

[iii] Providing five reasons why John Stackhouse’ assertion in his book Humble Apologetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 111 & 150 is flawed, Groothuis systematically refutes those assertions using Biblical references, common sense, and the postmodernist’s own logic.

[iv] Jonathan Rauch coined the term “apatheism” in a recent article, “Let It Be”, The Atlantic Monthly (May 2003) 34. Groothuis confronts Rauch’s advocacy of apathy and lauding it as a virtue called tolerance, even when disagreements arise over things that matter most, by pointing out that such a view is antithetical to the teaching of all religions, not just Christianity.