I would like to respond to Paul Nisly's recent essay, "A Word of Hope," published in Faculty Dialogue 17 (Spring 1992): 113-17. That essay strikes me as a fairly typical evangelical response to postmodern literary discourse, and I wish to address Nisly's articulation of that response as an accurate representation of a large sector of the evangelical literary and hermeneutical community. I will offer a critical response to some of the problems raised by Nisly's paradigmatic stance toward language and texts.1 I profess English at Messiah College, so I am a member of a community which is committed to identifying and understanding humanity in terms of the Christian story. I believe the essence of this gospel to be God's presence in Christ reconciling the world to God. To begin, while I disagree with Nisly's assessment of postmodern literary criticism, I too believe that "words, though limited, are God's gift to us humans" (113, my emphasis). But I do not believe that words are limited to "a meaning which we can discover" (113).
Smith, Samuel, "Words of Hope: A Postmodern Faith" (1993). English Faculty Scholarship. 7.