Dart, John and Jimmy Allen. Bridging the Gap: Religion and the News Media (Nashville, TN: Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, Vanderbilt U., 1994). This study, cited in The Empty Church, "concludes," according to Thomas Reeves, "that charges of an anti-religious bias in the broader media are false and that most media journalists are sympathetic to religion" (p. 258, n.79). In Bridging the Gap the authors explain that, on the one hand: "It appears there is more ignorance about religion than bias in the average newsroom… The problem lies, rather, in a secular press reporting on a highly secularized society in which faith and beliefs are muted, privatized and extremely diverse" (p. 5). On the other hand, the authors said: "The nations' newspapers and broadcasters largely refuse to take religion seriously" (p. 6).
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species (1859) (New York: Penguin Books, 1968); The Descent of Man (1871) (Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press, 1981). Perhaps the greatest influence upon both modern and postmodern thought has derived from the theory of evolution promoted by Darwin (1809-1882) a century ago. As Robert Wright states in his recent study, The Moral Animal (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), Darwin dealt a "one-two punch" to culture and religion, i.e.: "the Origin's assault on the biblical account of creation, followed by the Descent's doubts about the status of the moral sense" (p. 328). Wright, a senior editor at The New Republic—who has also written for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker and Time—credits Darwinianism with fueling "the postmodern attitude," and predicts that "the future progress of Darwinism may strengthen the postmodern mood" (p. 326).
Wright, himself a strong supporter of the 'Darwinian project,' explains the radical nature of Darwin's theory: "In short: if Freud stressed people's difficulty in seeing the truth about themselves, the new Darwinians stress the difficulty of seeing truth, period. Indeed, Darwinianism comes close to calling into question the very meaning of the word truth. For the social discourses that supposedly lead to truth—moral discourse, political discourse, even, sometimes, academic discourse—are, by Darwinian lights, raw power struggles… in human affairs, all (or at least much) is artifice, a self-serving manipulation of image. And already this belief helps nourish a central strand of the postmodern condition: a powerful inability to take things seriously" (p. 325).
Darwin, who at one point began studies for the ministry, became more and more of an agnostic. In his Autobiography he testified that he was: "a man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward." Nevertheless, in The Descent he praised the "moral sense of conscience" as "the most noble of all the attributes of man," and the "highest stage in moral culture" (vol. 1, p. 101). However, Darwin believed that ultimately it was man who created God, not God who created man: "The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture" (chap. 5).
Dawn, Marva J. The Hilarity of Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992). A theologian with a Ph.D. from the U. Notre Dame who works with Christians Equipped for Ministry based in Vancouver, WA., Dr. Dawn writes "to present an ideal [of 'cheerful community'] that is not being realized very well in contemporary Christianity… One of the most powerful reasons for our lack of gladness is that ours is a culture of solo efforts. We live our Christian faith independently… We don't experience the support that true community engenders" (p. xi).
Dawson, Christopher. Christianity and the New Age (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1985); Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (New York: Doubleday/ Image Books, 1991). Dawson (1889-1970), a graduate of Trinity College, Oxford; an editor of the Dublin Review (1940-44); taught at University College, Exeter as well as at Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Harvard (1958-1962) universities; became a Catholic in 1914, and dedicated his career to the history of Christian culture, publishing over two dozen books in that area. One of the better known of these works is Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, first published in 1950. Dawson asserted the cultural significance of "the eschatological dualism" which the Western Church brought to the barbarians: a tremendous message of divine judgment and divine salvation" (p. 35). For the masses, this message was communicated through "the sacred order of the liturgy." Dawson explained: "the liturgy was not only the bond of Christian unity. It was also the means by which the mind of the gentiles and the barbarians was attuned to a new view of life and a new concept of history…the sacred history of man's creation and redemption and the providential dispensation that governed the course of history" (p. 41).
Dawson contended that "the origins of modern science in the later Middle Ages are found, not among the Averroists of Padua, but with the disciples of Roger Bacon and William of Ockham, who regarded religious faith as the ultimate source of true know-ledge" (p. 218). In Christianity and the New Age, first published in 1931, Dawson argued that western civilization cannot survive without Christianity: "We must make our choice between the material organization of the world—based either on economic exploitation or on an economic absolutism, which absorbs the whole of life and leaves no room for human values—and the Christian ideal of a spiritual order based on spiritual faith and animated by charity" (p. 102).
Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference (Chicago: U. Chicago, 1978). Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, Derrida, a Nietzschean philosopher, is widely considered (with Richard Rorty and Michel Foucault) to be one of the leading postmodern thinkers. In A Passion for Truth A. McGrath explained that for Derrida and other postmodern writers: "language is ultimately whimsical and capricious… It was arbitrary, incapable of disclosing meaning." McGrath summarized Derrida's literary philosophy in two general principles: "1. Anything that is written will convey meanings which its author did not intend and could not have intended; 2. The author cannot adequately put into words what he or she means in the first place" (p. 186).
Writing in The Present Age, published in 1988, Columbia sociologist R. Nisbet classified Derrida's "deconstruction" (the movement toward complete relativism in literary interpretation) as one of the key "reigning cultural symbols" and concluded: "In the end [deconstruction] is… nihilistic…dedicated to the destruction of the sacred, traditional, human heart of civilization" (pp. 132-34). (cf. A. McGrath's critique of M. Foucault and J.-F. Lyotard under the entry for Foucault, below.)
Dewey, John. A Common Faith (New Haven, CT: Yale U. Press, 1934; 1962); Freedom and Culture (New York: Capricorn Books, 1939). The great American pragmatist philosopher and liberal educator, Dewey (1859-1952) was probably the single greatest influence upon educational philosophy and methodology in this country, and his influence continues today, even upon the leading American spokesman of postmodern pragmatism, Richard Rorty. Dewey, a prof. of philosophy and pedagogy at the U. Chicago (1894-1904) and Columbia U. (1904-1952), credited the evolutionary ideas of T.H. Huxley with bringing about his "intellectual awakening." In addition to the profound influence of Dewey's ideas upon America's public school system, his influence was also extended through his publication of such works as Experience and Nature and Liberalism and Social Action, and through his association as a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the first president of the American Humanist Association.
In Freedom and Culture Dewey's bias against Judeo-Christian faith as superstitious and outdated was evident, e.g.: "all absolutisms tend to assume a theological form and to arouse the kind of emotional ardor that has accompanied crusading religions in the past. The theological concerns and conflicts of the earlier centuries of our era involved, moreover, contemporary interests not now recoverable in imagination" (p. 83). In A Common Faith Dewey championed "a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race," "a common faith" based upon the American "heritage of values" (p. 87); and he took an explicitly hostile position toward traditional Christian belief, asserting: "I cannot understand how any realization of the democratic ideal as a vital moral and spiritual ideal in human affairs is possible without surrender of the conception of the basic division [of natural/supernatural] to which supernatural Christianity is committed" (p. 84).
Dockery, David S., ed. The Challenge of Postmodernism: An Evangelical Engagement (Wheaton, IL: BridgePoint/Victor, 1995). Dr. Dockery is a prof. on the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. This volume, which includes essays by Carl F.H. Henry, Stanley Grenz, and Thomas Oden, began as a series of presentations at an ETS regional meeting held at the seminary in 1994. Dockery characterizes postmodernism as "simultaneously a challenge to evangelical Christianity and a unique opportunity for theology and biblical interpretation, missions and ministry, education and evangelism" (p. 11). He describes "postmodernity" as "a dislocating human condition that is being experienced in these last years of the twentieth century." "Postmodernism is a new set of assumptions about reality, which goes far beyond mere relativism" (p. 14). The difference is captured in the following comparison: "modernists would argue in a variety of ways that Christianity is not true. Post-modernists, on the other hand, would critique Christianity by claiming that Christians think they have the only truth…Absolute truth claims will be dismissed by the postmodernist for being 'intolerant'—trying to force one's beliefs onto other people" (p. 14).
Dockery contends that: "The postmodern intellectual climate should theoretically make room for appropriating a new Christian confessionalism" (p. 17). The concluding essay by Oden picks up that theme, and introduces the concept of "paleo-orthodoxy." Oden explains that paleo-(old, seasoned) orthodoxy (as opposed to neo-orthodoxy) means a return to "Christian orthodoxy with its historic succession of apostolic teaching" (p. 398). He continues: "Christian orthodoxy in its ancient (paleo) ecumenical sense is summarily defined sacramentally by the baptismal formula (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), liturgically by the eucharistic event, and confessionally by the baptismal confession with its precisely remembered rule of faith as recalled in the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, and their subsequent consensual interpretations" (p. 398).
Doner, Colonel V. The Samaritan Strategy: A New Agenda for Christian Activism (Brentwood, TN.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1988). Chairman of the International Church Relief Fund, based in Santa Rosa, CA., Doner contends that: "The Christian Right failed in its mission because it was not perceived as Christ-like. The Christian Right, in demanding a society conformed to Godly moral behavior…failed to emphasize an equally important need for social justice and mercy"(p. 3). He calls "com-passion," defined as "to suffer with," the "missing key" in Christian social involvement today (p. 86), and he lifts up the parable of the Good Samaritan as a vision and model for contemporary action (pp. 100ff.).
Drucker, Peter F. Post-Capitalist Society (New York: HarperBusiness, 1993). Drucker taught for more than twenty years as a professor of management at the Graduate Business School of New York U. Since 1971 has been a professor of social science at Claremont Graduate School in CA. In this volume he asserts that: "Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. We cross… a 'divide.' Within a few short decades, society arranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions… We are currently living through just such a transformation" (p. 1). He contends that the transition taking place now is from capitalism and the nation-state to a "knowledge society" and a "society of organizations." "The same forces which destroyed Marxism as an ideology and Communism as a social system are… also making Capitalism obsolescent… The basic economic resource… is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor. It is and will be knowledge" (pp. 7-8). For the increasing specialization of knowledge "to produce results, an organization is needed… Organizations [including "churches"] are special-purpose institutions. They are effective because they concentrate on one task… Because the organization is composed of specialists, each with his or her own narrow knowledge area, its mission must be crystal clear" (pp. 50-53).
Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (New York: Free Press, 1965; orig. pub., 1915). A prof. of sociology first at the U. Bordeaux, and then at the U. Paris, Durkheim was a pioneer in social science, and the founder of sociology as a separate academic discipline. He attributed the origin of religion and morality to the collective mind of society, postulating that religion meets a deep-seated human need for order and meaning. He is best known for his study of suicide. He concluded that a primary cause of suicide is anomie, the belief that the world is meaningless, lacking in purpose and any fixed points of reference.