Adventist Education in an Anti-Modern World: Challenge and Opportunity
Certain tenets of anti-modern thought clash with basic Christian assumptions. Consequently, Christians may not agree with the full scope of the anti-modern position – such as its relativism, fragmentation of knowledge, and rejection of religious doctrine. Such premises can ultimately lead to conclusions far removed from those of a Christian worldview. Nevertheless, while Christians cannot surrender the non-negotiable truths of their faith, they must seek to truly understand anti-modernism and its endeavor to address crucial issues in society.
Stirred by the anti-modern paradigm, for example, contemporary educators have raised valid concerns regarding educational practice – the role of community, the importance of personal experience and reflection, the need for authenticity, the value of emotion and creativity, the call for inclusion and the differentiation of instruction, and the education of the whole person. These matters, among others, can provide points of contact with the broad spectrum of anti-modern educators, presenting fresh opportunities for sharing deeper meanings and reorienting thought patterns toward Christian understandings.
In this article, we first examine the crumbling foundations of modernism (human autonomy, rationalism, scientism, technicism, and economism), and contrast these with the emerging tenets of anti-modernism (rejection of meta-narratives, affirmation of pluralism, contextualization, constructivism, and celebration of diversity).
We then engage in a biblical review of anti-modernism. The endeavor is not to endorse or reject anti-modernism as a whole, but to reflect on areas of opportunity and aspects of concern from the vantage of a Christian worldview. Aspects of this review include the following: rejection of meta-narratives and objective truth; pluralism and moral relativism; community, culture, and context; constructivism and authenticity; and diversity, creativity, and spirituality.
Finally, we explore a number implications for education. How do we, as educators, make use of the opportunities that anti-modernism offers us in education, while at the same time safeguarding the Christian worldview?