Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jesus in a Postmodern World

I was asked not long ago what some of the barriers to accepting Jesus are. I think one could make quite an extensive list of specifics or, alternatively, boil it all down to one thing: wanting to be our own god. This was the temptation presented to Adam and Eve and it is an impulse that is alive and well today. One manifestation of the impulse to be our own god can be seen in the embracing of relativism by our post-modern culture. It ultimately is a rejection that there is anything beyond our own thoughts and opinion which defines truth. It is a philosophy which, intentionally or unintentionally, dethrones God and puts the self in His place. 

The enlightenment ushered in modernism which was rooted in rationalism and logic. To think logically, one must accept that “A” and “non-A” cannot be equal to each other in the same way at the same time. This is the basis of rationale thought. Then along comes post-modernism. Post-modern thinking casts aside absolutes in favor of relativism. In a post-modern world, not only can “A” and “non-A” both be equal to each other in the same way at the same time, but they can both be true even when in direct contradiction to each other. Acceptance of such an absurdity is the death knell for rational thought. Without rational thought it is impossible to engage in philosophy, which is to say, it is impossible to think critically about questions that matter. Not only is propositional truth impossible to evaluate without rational thought, but the very notion of such a thing as truth becomes anachronistic. 

So how does this portend for Christianity and the spread of the Gospel. Not well I must say. Christianity is a belief system rooted firmly in propositional truth. Christianity makes truth claims based upon the belief that truth is that which corresponds to reality, or as Francis Schaffer would say, there is such a thing as “true truth”. Our post modern culture utterly rejects such a notion. We have an uphill battle when we go into the culture and present the truth claims that Jesus made for himself such as “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father accept by me”. It seems to me that each of us would be a more effective tool for God if we at least understood the basics of rationale thought and philosophy so that we would be able to discuss the nature of truth, how we know what we know, and how we can evaluate competing truth claims (even the self-refuting claim that there is no truth). 

It is my hope that this blog will become a place where we can rationally discuss topics, parse them Biblically, discover that which is true and corresponds to reality, ultimately experience a renewing of our minds via the power of the Holy Spirit as He illuminates the Word.


  1. Love reading Francis Schaffer too. This idea that Christian Relativism can peacefully coexist with Absolute Truth creates a chaotic soup inside Christianity. We are a mess because of it. I firmly believe there is 1. Absolute Truth 2. That we are capable of knowing it. Now, how do you solve the problem of all these Christians going around claiming their version of the truth is absolute?

  2. Apologetics can go a long way toward convincing someone who is already "seeking" something that brings life into a corrupt world. However, there is such a thing as winning an argument or debate and losing the soul. Fortunately the Holy Spirit fills the gap when we dare to speak openly about sin and the need for the Saviour. The Spirit convicts of sin through the foolishness of preaching. The heart of a starving soul will often over rule the worldly minded otherwise how would anyone be saved?

  3. Augustine is credited with saying, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” I believe the essentials are the main and plain things in scripture. These are mostly around the person and work of Jesus and the authority of His Word. With few exceptions, all Bible believing Christians using good contextual hermeneutics have been in unity on the essentials down through the ages. There are however a number of non-essentials that we can debate without dividing over. I think that’s okay. Even in non-essentials I do believe there is truth that actually corresponds to reality, but either God has not deemed to give us all the details at this time or our fleshy tendencies prevent us from apprehending what he has revealed. A great example is in the realm of eschatology. I personally do not think God has seen fit to reveal every detail about the future. So while there is truth that corresponds to reality, when it comes to end times events, it has not been fully and completely revealed yet. So anyone who claims to know without a doubt that they possess absolute truth on this topic is probably full it. So here’s how I handle the question you pose. I count all those who are in unity on the essentials as brothers and sisters in Christ even though they may differ from me on some of the non-essentials. That fact there is discussion and debate on non-essentials really doesn’t bother me very much as long as we don’t divide over it. However, I steer clear of those organizations that boldly claim to possess a perfect knowledge of truth on a variety of non-essentials. Such organizations are usually divisive and there is probably very little liberty and even less charity.

  4. So true Vince! No one is ever going to be argued into the Kingdom. As you say, only the Holy Spirit can convict and regenerate. We are merely tools that God has, for reasons hard to comprehend, allowed to be used in His work as He sees fit. We are given the command to study to show ourselves approved workmen rightly handling the word of truth. For whatever reason, it appears God wants us actively involved as workmen handling truth and sharing truth with others. He certainly doesn't need us, but He let's us be involved anyway. Amazing!