I've been dipping into The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach by Carrie Doehring. This is a book mainly about pastoral care but, in the book, Doehring defines three theological stances: pre-modern, modern, and post-modern. These are but illustrations to understand the different stances.
A pre-modern pastor would try to help a grieving Christian over the death of a loved one by defining the deceased's life in terms of an 'objective' soteriology and prescribing the mourner's response. If the deceased meets the criteria for 'being saved', the instruction is to rejoice in their salvation. If the deceased does not meet those criteria, the mourner is instructed to look forward to their own salvation.
A modern pastor would use the tools of biblical critical methods and systematic theology as well as the tools of counselling and psychology. This is a reason-based approach.
A post-modern pastor would try to understand how the mourner's perspective is unique because of a myriad of factors, including life experience, gender, race, class, age, etc. The pastor will help the mourner to find his or her own religous meaning in the context of this particular death.
Putting the idea of 'postmodern theology' in the context of pastoral response was something of a revelation to me. One of those 'D'oh!' sorts of moments when what seemed complicated seems a bit clearer. A lot of Christians like to criticise postmodernism, but if you look at the three-pronged approach to pastoral care (using all of the above tools) that Doehring recommends, it seems like a very appropriate and logical tool-kit.
So, my question is: if postmodernism is so threatening to Christian theology, is the claim therefore that God can only be found in 'the objective' (ISTM the premodern and modern contexts) and that there is no such thing as the presence of God in the subjective? It seems to me that to make such a claim would be ridiculous. It also seems to me that 'the presence of God in the subjective' is, to some extend, the old idea of having a personal relationship with God.
I continue to suspect that the postmodern challenge to Christianity is a challenge to the institution of the Church and not a challenge to theology per se. We have to be willing, to a certain extent, to allow people to find individual meaning within Christianity. On the other hand, I continue to believe that because Christianity is about relationships, that it's not desireable to be a solitary practitioner of Christianity if one can help it.
I'm trying to work this out in my own mind, so pardon me if this is too much of an incoherent ramble.