About Jesus Steve Sweetman
I say anything, the subject that I’m about to comment on is huge and I
certainly can’t address all the issues in a short article.
Besides, the nature of the subject itself seems to be in
transition and is in the process of being clarified.
what’s “post-modernism”? My
explanation may be too simplistic for some technical post modernists,
although technicalities aren’t normally associated with pure
post-modernism. As the term
implies, post-modernism comes after modernism in a historical sense. Its
expression is seen in all areas of society, including art, architecture,
music, and religion, among other things.
post-modernism is a departure from modernism, I’ll briefly explain
“modernism” first. Modernism
is a detailed, analytical, structured, organized, and institutionalized
approach to thinking and reasoning.
Those who are supposed to know, tell us that modernism began
somewhere around the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Modernism was and is expressed in many ways.
One example is seen in the Industrial Revolution. The western
world was industrialized by inventions that came about because certain
men thought they could discover things through a methodical and
analytical search for what was then unknown. In
Christian terms modernists would diligently study the Bible to find
every last detail of Biblical truth, because modernists believe truth is
found in the details.
is presently moving away from this analytical approach to thinking. It
doesn’t see the need to know and understand every last little detail
of things. It even suggests
that you can’t know every detail, so why try. Such
an analytical approach to life is too constraining and rigid.
The modernist approach also tends to divide people into various
philosophical camps that is based on “one’s perception of the
truth”. In Christian
terms, a post-modernist would not take the time and energy to search out
every aspect of Biblical truth in all of its detail.
They would simply acknowledge the Bible’s general concepts.
Biblical terms, I’ve heard some post-modernists suggest that Genesis
chapter one is inspirational poetry.
Many post-modernists wouldn’t view Genesis one as a theological
document concerning the origin of things.
Being inspired by the awesomeness of creation is sufficient for
the post-modernist. In
contrast, the modernist wants to know how, why, and when God created.
to Biblical forgiveness as another example, the post-modernist might
tell us to simply forgive. That’s it.
Just forgive and enjoy life after forgiveness –
end of story. The modernist
would ask, “what does forgiveness mean?”
“Why does Jesus tell us to forgive?”
“Are there conditions to forgiveness?”
“What should we expect from forgiveness?” Modernists
want to know all the details, because one can’t appreciate forgiveness
without knowing the truth that’s discovered in the details.
In order to find the truth their approach to Scripture is very
methodical, analytical, and structured.
Both of these approaches to reasoning have far reaching
consequences in one’s life.
it comes to forgiveness, the modernist discovers that forgiveness is
actually the cancelling of an offense.
That offense cannot be cancelled or forgiven unless the offender
repents by recognizing his offense and is willing to stop offending.
Once the offender repents, the offense is no longer recognized as
an offense by the one who was offended.
Only then can forgiveness be extended and the shattered
relationship begin to be repaired. The
modernist knows there’s a difference between
loving the offender and forgiving him.
The post-modernist just forgives without really understanding
forgiveness, or so the modernist
might say. The result of
this vagueness of understanding makes the modernist wonder if
forgiveness really takes place in a post-modernism world.
began to transition in the early 1900’s and found some support in the
1960’s. All the old rules
and reasons of modernism were exchanged for a lifestyle of freedom and
relativity in the 1960’s. Free
sex was one expression of this new found freedom from rules and reason
among many youth in that decade. Yet
nothing is really free, and that expression is now being paid for with
sexual diseases and broken relationships.
has found its way into Christianity. One example of this is how
post-modernists approach the Bible as I stated above.
They don’t see the Bible as an answer book, a road map, or a
manual that should be analyzed, dissected, and organized into inflexible
doctrine, as they’d put it. They view the Bible as more of a story of
God and his family, or inspirational poetry, or a book of concepts to
build upon. The whole
approach to the Bible is different for post-modernists than it is for
my thinking post-modernism leads to a pragmatic approach to living.
In other words, “if it works, do it”.
Well, if you rob a bank and get away with it, does that mean it
was right because it worked? Of
course not. I don’t think
Christians should be pragmatic. We
should base our actions on Biblical truth. Post-modernists
would suggest that what a modernist calls Biblical truth is merely
“their perception of Biblical truth”.
in my thinking, post-modernism leads to relativism.
This means that truth varies from one person to another because
no one has taken the time and effort to know the details of truth, if
ultimate truth can actually be known in the first place.
Truth becomes subjective and experiential. That
is, “if it feels good to you, do it because it must be good”. Another
way to say this is, “how you feel about things may differ from someone
else, but that’s okay. Truth
to you may not be truth to another.”
Post-modernism seems comfortable with truth being relevant.
admit knowing all Biblical truth is hard to come by and Christians have
a hard time agreeing with one another on matters of truth.
Yet, that doesn’t mean truth can’t be found.
I also admit that the dogmatism of many modernist Christians have
turned people off and that’s why some have become post modernists.
it comes to being dogmatic, I look at Jesus to see how He handled
dogmatism. He was ultimate
truth and had every right to be dogmatic.
When confronting the religious hypocrites, and even to His close
followers, He was dogmatic
and forceful at times. Yet
for the most part, Jesus was humble and gentle, but not to the exclusion
of stating the truth in a straight forward way.
is seen in John 4 when Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman. Jesus
was gentle and humble in His approach to this lady, but He did not
hesitate to speak to the truth of her adultery. Like Jesus, we should be
humble and gentle, but not to the exclusion of truth.
interesting to note that God thought highly of Ezra because He studied
the Law of God and lived by its details. (Ezra
7:10) That doesn’t sound
like post-modernism to me. Jesus
also rebuked the Jewish leadership for a lack of understanding of the
same Law. (Mark 12:24) That
doesn’t sound like post-modernism to me either.
my thinking, post-modernism in Christianity reduces the truth of
Scripture to a less meaningful place.
Once the Bible is not seen as God’s authoritative message book
for mankind, anything goes. We
begin to think and act in ways that seem right to us.
At the point of believing what we think is right, faith in Jesus
begins to fall away, and gives place to a type of secular humanism.
Christians have slipped into post-modernism without even knowing it.
If your interest in Biblical truth has fallen by the wayside,
then by default you’ve become post-modern in one sense of the word.
Even though you might not believe in post modernism or even
understand what it is, your actions suggest that you are post-modern.
last thought. I’d like to
suggest that modernism and post-modernism isn’t necessarily
philosophical periods of time or approaches to thinking. Let me suggest
that you and I, our very nature are either modern or post-modern.
Who we are will determine how we approach the way we think and
the way we live. It is clear
that I am modern by nature, with a touch post-modernism.
You might be post-modern with a touch of modernism.