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Postmodernism

 
 

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(By Mark Fontecchio)

I am a product of the modern era.  I was raised thinking in terms of science and reason.  Then, I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in 1993.  Over the years, I have continued to renew my mind with the Word of God.  However, neither my current biblical worldview nor my upbringing in the modern era had prepared me to understand the contemporary mindset of postmodernism.

I believe part of what makes postmodernism hard to grasp is that one of its major tenets is that there is no absolute truth.  Part of the belief of postmodern thinking is that absolute or objective truth does not exist.  What is true for one individual may not be true for another.  This elimination of an absolute standard is in total opposition to the Word of God.  Jesus famously stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  Jesus is the truth because He is God’s supreme revelation to mankind.  The Word of God is also an objective truth.  Speaking to God the Father Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).  We also read in the Old Testament, “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Ps. 119:160).  The Bible testifies that there is absolute truth from God that can be understood by men.  Both Jesus and the written Word of God are truth.  Only by personal faith in Jesus Christ can a person find eternal life.

The absolute truth of Jesus Christ and the written Word of God stand in complete opposition to postmodernism and are offensive to those with the postmodern mindset.  This is because postmodernism teaches:

  • freedom will make you true
  • the authority of self
  • self is at the center of reality
  • abandonment of certainty
  • no universal truth
  • tolerance and pluralism
  • culture transcends God

Postmodern thinking is popular because it makes the individual the authority.  What matters most is the individual choice and freedom to create your own truth.  Since pluralism is one of its main tenets, no one can tell you that you are wrong in your beliefs.  It feeds into the pride of men and it teaches that there is more than one way to heaven.  The Bible certainly contradicts this.  The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  There are also plenty of warnings about following our own wisdom instead of following the Lord.  We read in Proverbs, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:7).

Postmodernism is more dangerous than most Christians realize.  It directly contradicts the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In addition to the abandonment of absolute truth, postmodernism is focused on community and experience over truth.  This impacts the gospel because it makes it about community and relationships instead of salvation from the penalty of our sins.

One of the big problems that we have as Christians in reaching those who believe in postmodernism is the deconstruction of language.  Deconstructionism strips a written text of inherent meaning.  It reduces language to a social construct that reflects the interpreter’s personal perspective.  As a result, every interpreter is free to deconstruct the text and refashion it into a suitable meaning that is not anchored in the words themselves. Words no longer have meaning and the study of the Bible becomes changed.  Each reader now determines their own individual meaning of the text rather than studying to find the intended meaning of God.  This, obviously, makes it difficult to reason from the Word of God.  The end result of this line of thinking is that men and women tell God what they think His Word means, instead of seeking to find the meaning that God intended in His Word.

The effects of postmodernism can be seen within the Church of Jesus Christ.  One area of grave concern is surrounding the Gospel of Christ.  The end result is that many well-intentioned believers in Christ are confused about the message of salvation that they should share with the lost.

Another major tenet of postmodern thought is the idea of tolerance.  It is believed that we all should accept the truth claims of others, no matter what their position is.  It does not matter if their claims of truth are offensive.  It does not matter if their truth claims contradict one another.  Once again, the Bible stands in opposition to this.  The Apostle Paul warned, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).  Yet, the one group that postmodern individuals will not tolerate is anyone who claims to have the absolute standard of truth.  This poses a major problem for believers in Christ.  When we present the absolute standard of the Word of God they are offended.

Satan is the master deceiver.  The people of the world that have bought into postmodernism blindly think that their wisdom has led them to truth.  In reality, it has blinded them to the truth of God’s Word and the redemption found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The only proper response is to continue to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and continue to proclaim the unchanging truth of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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