Exposing Postmodernism

Is the Christian to fear the culture he or she lives in? Abortion, LGBTQ, Atheism, and a host of other worldviews flood today’s marketplace as a substitute to replace the nation’s Judaeo-Christian heritage worldview. In the case that you have been asleep for the past thirty years, the transition from religious to secular has already taken place.

As modernity has shifted to post-modernity and the nation has shifted from Christian to post-Christian, I encounter many believers who stand between the times and are confused as to what to do. Really, these believers should not have been caught off-guard, but that’s another article I do not have time to write. What is important is that we do help the Christians who have repented of their ignorance and are genuinely seeking guidance in how they are to live for Christ now. To the believer who desires to keep his ostrich head stuck in the sand, I cannot help you out at this time.

Has secularism won the day? Has postmodernism painted a picture as a point of no return – as a worldview that has finally defeated Christianity? Has religious pluralism gone as far in tolerance to now eclipse intolerant Christianity? NO, NO, NO!

From a worldly perspective and a judgment based off of the numbers, the secularist would say YES. But as Christ-followers, we know and understand a kingdom perspective that reveals time from beginning to end. At the end of the day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). But that fact still doesn’t answer how we confront postmodernism today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must not only confront postmodernism, we must expose it. It seems almost impossible from the start. I mean, how do you share meaning with someone who doesn’t believe that meaning exists. How can you help someone who does not believe in absolute truth and defines their own right and wrong? How do you take the self-absorbed and self-centered individual to a place where he or she admits there is a God and they are accountable to Him? Obviously, postmodernism does not make sense and is not rational (why modernity has passed), but this of course, is exactly why the postmodern embraces his worldview. We all remember tv shows in the 90’s like Seinfeld which were popular because they were shows about nothing. Exposing the emptiness in postmodernism is not enough. The emptiness is what attracts the postmodern to his or her view and to watch his or her show (its OK to watch Seinfeld, but to the ignorant, that show is now 25 years old). Postmodernism did not occur overnight. It was a process and it is not going away anytime soon.

But, ahhhhhh, maybe we are on to something (Read my last sentence carefully). Postmodernism will not last forever. It will eventually run its course and there will be a new worldview to overtake it as much as it has overtaken modernity. For the postmodern, culture becomes his enemy. Why? Because he or she can never escape it. Even if you dwindle all future cultures to a culture of the self, you still have a culture. Culture reveals a Creator. Though the naturalist would deny this Creator, the naturalist cannot escape the creation or the culture that he is in. Though he has placed himself above God, his sin (he will not use this word, perhaps “crime” or “disease” in this therapeutic culture) keeps creeping up. With moral standards all but gone, he cannot but think a lot about himself and a lot of himself. Though he denies moral reality, the image of God within him keeps telling him he was created as a moral agent. It is at this point that creation becomes the gospel’s ally. Fallen postmodern man in denial of moral reality has not found a way to live comfortably and still yearns spiritually for something more. In short, he cannot save himself or find the means to salvation within himself.

Here are some helpful quotes from David Wells in Losing Our Virtue:

“We are, as a result, caught. We are condemned forever to the jarring uncertainties that come from being morally and spiritually out of step with who we are by creation. The more we sin, the greater the contradiction with what we are in the image of God; . . . It is this frustration, I believe, that gives Christian faith its best access to a postmodern culture that has given up on serious thought, rational argument, and historical defenses.” – p. 192

“In understanding God, we understand something of ourselves, and in understanding ourselves, we understand something of God.” – p. 193

“Our postmodern spiritual disjunctions, our inward contradictions, on which we place such a morally neutered assessment, can be the very hand that leads us to God, because they lead us back into moral reality.” – p. 193

“We cannot elude our own moral nature or its corruption. We know ourselves to be moral agents, but there is always a residue of moral unease when the day is done. Our experience is thus shot through with ambiguity. Spates of pleasure-seeking are followed by seasons of regret; well-meaning actions, by those that are malicious, vindictive, or craven; hope in our ability to take hold of life in good ways, by despair that we have not succeeded in doing so. We party on Saturday and repent on Sunday. This tangle of contradictions we are unable to untangle because of both the power of sin and the intent of God. It is this inability that points us back, even in our advanced post-modernity, to the Cross, because there simply is no other place of resolution.

If, then, we, in this generation have lost our ability to name sin – and we have – we have nevertheless not lost our sin. We may call it by other names, we may not recognize it at all, and we always misinterpret it. Our moral radar is defunct. And yet, moral reality keeps intruding into our experience; the threads of moral existence are ever present. It is thus that creation is the great ally of the Gospel, while culture and fallen self are its great enemies. This is the awful contradiction that cuts through all of life, and it offers the most telling entrée for the Gospel into the postmodern soul.” – p. 196

Forgive me if I sound harsh to the ostrich, but David wrote this in 1998, a century ago (you know what I mean, “last century”). Wake up ostrich, one-hundred years is no different than nineteen if your head is in the sand.

Aaron Dougherty

 

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All People

“All white people are not racist. All black people are not criminals. And all cops are not bad.” declared B. Haley, drummer for Toby Mac, and speaker for the “We are 1″ movement.

The crowd cheered and applauded, signaling their full agreement with his statements.

But to be honest. I don’t agree.

All cops are bad.

All blacks are criminals.

All white people are racist.

But let’s be fair. All people (not just white people) have held prejudices and judgments towards other people based on appearances and stereotypical assumptions.

“But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.” -James 2:8 & 9

Have we not all favored one person over another based on outward appearance? Have we not all failed to love EVERY neighbor as ourselves? Have we not all shown partiality?

I know I have.

All people are corrupt crooks (not just cops), using our position for selfish gain instead of humble service.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” -Ephesians 5:25

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” -Ephesians 6:4

“Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” -Ephesians 6:9

Have we all not abused our authority and power and treated people unfairly for selfish gain? Whether it be our spouse, our child, our employees (or those we supervise), those we mentor and to which we live as an example—we all have perpetuated injustice.

I know I have.

And all people are criminals (not just black people), for we have all transgressed the holy law of God.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23

And regardless of whether it is a violation that could put us behind iron bars or not, every violation is cosmic treason. We have used our freedom to appoint ourselves as judge, determining what we believe to be right from wrong, good from evil. Thus, we are continually attempting to overthrow the Almighty from His throne (Genesis 2, Romans 1).

Have we not all countlessly broken the most basic institutional authority?

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’” -Ephesians 6:1-2a

And if we have broken even one law, we are guilty of breaking them all.

“For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.” -James 2:11

For it is not the immediate authority we have ultimately sinned against, but the one who placed them over us.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.” -Romans 13:1

We are all racist. We are all criminals. We are all corrupt. And that’s why the only solution for both this land and our own individual hearts is the blood of Jesus.

But I’m not talking about some metaphoric forgiveness from a cliché prayer so that we can live a more comfortable existence here on earth free from negative thoughts and ethereal fear of divine punishment.

No.

I’m talking about digesting the truths stated above to such a degree that we own it and stop declaring our innocence before God in the face of suffering. We own it so much that we grieve and weep before the LORD in repentance (2 Cor 7:10). Only then can we cry out in full surrender to live for God and not ourselves (Luke 14:26, 27,33). Only then can we have our hearts exchanged for one that truly desires to do good and to love God and love others (Eze 11:19, Rom 6:18, 1 John 4:7-21). Only then can we have our minds renewed with proper understanding of God, humanity, and the world (Rom 12:2, Eph 4:17-18), so that we can be conformed to our original purpose (Rom 8:29, Gen 1:27), to be like Christ, and promote true peace with one another, and more importantly with God (Matthew 5:9).

Apart from the Gospel, I might be able to find the good in people and identify with white people like me who aren’t bigots; or with some black people who aren’t criminals and are productive members of society like me; or perhaps with the good cops who actually live to serve rather than dominate.

But only in the Gospel, I find that I am like EVERY man. Not simply identify with him, but understand that we are from the same sinful flesh. Now suddenly, a law-abiding white man can identify with a black criminal. A law-abiding black man can identify with a corrupt, bigoted, white police officer. Because it is in the Gospel that we realize we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and desperately need salvation through HIS grace alone.

Billy Neal

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Brotherly Discouragement

God calls His men for specific purposes. To accomplish these specific tasks, we must first hear God, then say “Yes”, then take the initial steps to accomplish the task, and then finish. Each of these efforts is important. Missing any of them will result in the purpose not being accomplished through you. The last item, the “finish”, can be perhaps the hardest part, as it mean pushing through resistance. Occasionally the resistance comes through an unexpected source, through a Christian brother or sister.

When my wife and I were young Christians in our 20’s, we lived in Denver, NC for a time and attended a prominent Baptist Church there. While there, I felt clearly called to produce a newsletter to reach out to the high number of people moving into that area. I said “Yes”, obtained a list of newcomers from the Chamber of Commerce, wrote a newsletter containing the Gospel and information about the Church, and printed and mailed it. The response was strong, with multiple people calling and visiting the church. An existing church member also decided to ‘respond’, noting that one section of the letter was dated. Unfortunately, the first newsletter was the last newsletter. I let the questions and criticisms of a fellow Christian derail the clear instructions of God.

What do we do when our brother criticizes, questions, or judges our efforts or even our faith and beliefs? Keep on course. Favor the words of God over the misguided words of men, and leave the correction to the Lord. In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron spoke out against Moses. Versus 2 says, “… and the Lord heard this.” In verse 4, “At once, the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, ‘Come out of the tent of meeting, all three of you’….and he summoned Aaron and Miriam and said, ‘Listen to my words: When there is a prophet among you, I the Lord reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams, But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’. The anger of the Lord burned against them and he left them. When he left, there was a punishment for Miriam even though Moses prayed selflessly that she not be punished.

There is clarity for us in regards to moving forward when we hear the Lord. There should also be some caution about meddling in a brother’s calling. Moses was favored by God due to 1) his humility, and 2) his faithfulness. His calling was clear and direct and obviously not Miriam or Aaron’s to condemn or judge. The truth is, when we judge a brothers efforts or belief, we step out on a limb. We do not know their humility, heart or calling. It Is not our place to judge. Romans 14:4 summarizes this so well. It reads, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” So, when we catch ourselves judging, let’s instead consider a better route, like ‘loving one another’.

Derek Dougherty

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