Goodbye Postmodernism, Hello Metamodernism

Our apologetics must evolve to engage with the new cultural mood of the next generations.

For years now, scholars have announced the death of postmodernism. After decades of dominance as a cultural mood, the famously cynical and relativistic intellectual stance is finally out. In its place, another ideological outlook is taking hold—as those of us who spend significant time with the next generations (Z and Alpha) may have noticed.

So, the question is this: What fresh dispositions of thought are taking hold—and how might Christians engage well with our evolving cultural frontier?

One term that scholars have used to identify the new cultural mood is metamodernism. First used in 1975 to describe a literary shift, the concept became more prominent in the early 2000s thanks to the work of cultural analysts Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker. In their 2010 article, “Notes on Metamodernism,” they made a convincing case for the new zeitgeist and provided a cultural analysis of its characteristics.

Metamodernism, according to Vermeulen and Van Den Akker, is a “structure of feeling” marked by “(often guarded) hopefulness and (at times feigned) sincerity”—deriving from a realization that “history is moving rapidly beyond its much proclaimed end.” While there are plenty of academic responses to their work, the term has gained little traction in the public sphere.

As a high school teacher, youth pastor, and an older member of Gen Z myself, I’ve not only grown up breathing the ideological air of metamodernism but have also seen what it looks like on the ground. It can manifest in a few tangible ways, including in what I call apocalyptic hope, inverted worldview-building, and highly narrated identities.

Apocalyptic hope (or what Vermeulen and Van Den …

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