A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO POST-MODERNISM
Postmodern thinking now permeates our culture. Truth is now relative. You can believe anything you like, and no one has the right to contradict you. A man can believe he is a woman. Homosexuals can believe they are married. A white woman can believe she is actually black on the inside. In 2006, a North Carolina woman, Jewel Shuping, deliberately poured drain cleaner into her eyes, rendering herself blind. Why? Because she believed she was a blind person trapped inside a sighted person’s body. Bizarrely, her psychiatrist helped her to do this, because of his postmodern ideology that she had the right to believe whatever she wanted! In Otawa, Canada, a man who prefers the pseudonym “One Hand Jason”, deliberately severed his arm with a power saw because he believed he was a disabled man trapped inside an able body.
Postmodernism says there is no absolute truth. You can believe whatever you want to believe, and no one has the right to tell you that you are wrong. There are no absolute morals. No one can impose their standards upon you. You decide what is right and wrong. You decide what is true for you, and what is not true. The Christian metanarrative, in particular, is to be rejected because of it’s oppressive insistence on absolute truth and its denial of the sovereignty of the individual.
How should Christians respond, in the midst of a world that is increasingly hostile to our message? I want to suggest six principles to hold onto:
1. REMAIN GROUNDED IN BIBLICAL TRUTH. Be sure of the truth. Know what you know! Don’t get confused. Because we are entering a time when there will be a plethora of contradictory voices yelling at us. Now more than ever we need to be soaking ourselves in God’s Word. Psalm 1:2-3 says, “Blessed is he whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”
2. DON’T BE SURPRISED. The Bible prophesies that society will deteriorate in the last days. Jesus predicted that people will increasingly turn away from truth towards godlessness: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12)
3. DEFEND GOD’S STANDARDS WHEN APPROPRIATE, without making that our crusade, and without judgmentalism. If I was asked for my opinion on homosexuality or adultery or pre-marital sex or lying or cheating or stealing, I would state that I believe all these practices to be contrary to God’s absolute standards, as set out in His Word, the Bible. I would explain that my view on these morals does not arise from personal bias or from hatred, but from a firm belief in the existence of an external, objective set of divinely ordained absolute standards. Furthermore, I would point out that humanity has not been asked to vote on these standards; the determination of right and wrong is not a matter of personal preference or democratic polling. In stating my views, however, I do not look down in judgment upon those who break these standards, for I, myself, sometimes break God’s laws; I, too, am a sinner and cannot throw stones. Nor do I make it my life’s goal to crusade against sin. That is not my mission. I must walk the fine line of unashamedly defending God’s standards, while not casting stones in judgment. The Apostle Peter describes this fine balance in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”.
4. MAJOR ON THE GOSPEL, NOT MORAL ISSUES. This follows on from the previous point. What homosexuals need is not moral reform, they need Jesus, as we all do. What transgender people need most of all is not to be argued out of their transgenderism, it’s Jesus! Moral reform is not going to save anyone, because no-one can be saved by cleaning up their act. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). We are wasting our time going on a moral crusade; it is grace and forgiveness that people need, not to somehow achieve moral perfection. “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:8). Placard-waving fundamentalists who crusade against homosexuality and adultery have completely lost the point, and do great damage to the cause of the Gospel.
5. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED OR EMBARRASSED ABOUT YOUR FAITH. Now, more than ever before in our nation’s history, Christianity is under attack. Christian ideology is openly ridiculed, and Christians are increasingly vilified in private and in the media. Anyone who adheres to the traditional Christian metanarrative of a law-giving creator God and an afterlife is regarded as naive; treated with the same contempt as those who still believe that the earth is flat. When we are immersed in such a pervasively hostile atmosphere, it is understandable that some Christians will be tempted to feel embarrassed of their faith. I think it is vital that we remember that “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them. For He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Remember that you have the truth. And one day, at the end of the age, your faith will be vindicated, and God will be finally glorified in the eyes of all humanity. Take courage from that! Remember the words of God (through Moses) to the young man Joshua, as he was about to lead the people of Israel into the promised land – a land filled with fearsome “giants”; “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). Don’t retreat into your shell; God calls us to be His voice, even though our message may be increasingly unpopular.
6. PRAY FOR REVIVAL. Even though scripture prophesies that the world will increasingly turn away from God and His standards as the end approaches, this should not produce complacency within us. It should drive us to our knees. It will take a sovereign move of God’s Spirit to reverse the downward slide of our society, but, with God, anything is possible. In the economy of God’s sovereignty, He has decreed that the prayers of His people can have a powerful impact outworking of Hs Kingdom on earth. The promise of God in 2 Chronicles 7:14, although delivered to a different people at a different time, still rings true for us today, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
C.S. Lewis, the great theologian and philosopher, once said, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” As our world descends into the murky darkness of relativism and unbelief, hold fast to the light of your faith and be unashamed to let others see it.