I spent the first two parts of this blog in a specific order to help set the stage for the last two parts. In part I we discussed the foundation of postmodern thought and its’ basic conclusion. Let me sum that up here in case you didn’t read the first part:
There are very few things that can be defined as absolutely known as true (those things which can be proven empirically). All other truth is merely speculative because the only way we can discuss reality is through language, and our language only relates to our own community. So two things happen: it’s impossible to know the truth, so trying to know what is absolutely true is absurd. Therefore it is up to each community to define truth in their own terms and those terms are not binding on other groups. It looks something like this:
Politically: Liberals talk about truth in their terms, conservatives in theirs and independents are hopeless (just kidding).
Religiously: Christians have the truth they define, Muslims have theirs, Hindus have theirs, spiritualists have theirs, etc.
Now how has this affected individuals in the West? Let us take a look at just a couple of issues.
In ethics this has really taken a massive toll. How do we know the right thing to do or the action to avoid? Take for instance the hot button issue of abortion. For many years the idea of intentionally terminating a pregnancy on purpose, particularly for expediency was seen as a ghastly and cruel act, beyond what could be considered a civilized act. However, with the rise of postmodern thought, what constitutes life has become the bedrock issue for abortion. Questions such as “when does life begin?” which is in essence seeks a metaphysical answer that seems to have no real empirical evidence to substantiate. Does life begin at conception, at implantation, when a heartbeat is detected? But keep in mind the mantra for abortionists: what a woman does with her own body is her own decision (translate that to TRUTH). In other words, it is fine if you want to say that your womb contains a baby, we won’t argue against that, but mine contains a growing mass of tissue that I will not deem neither life nor human. That is postmodern thought. (Which is easily seen as contradictory: if a woman’s pregnancy is terminated by a hostile act of another it can be construed as the murder of a human being, but if she decides to end the life, it’s considered destruction of her own tissue).
The same goes with issues of gender and sex attraction. Modern psychology and medicine have been working overtime in the last decade trying to make a complete separation between a person’s sexual organs/dna and their gender. We have diagnosable conditions that proclaim that a person can confused about their gender, feeling as though they are one gender mentally, when their body is another. Inevitably they are told that gender is a matter of personal choice. Now children are being encouraged to pick out their own gender. It’s a matter of personal choice/truth. Check the following link for a prime example:
Likewise the battle for the definition for the meaning for marriage further demonstrates this concept. This is an issue that we have been dealing with in our home state as has much of the country. What does the word marriage mean? For historical sake, the argument has been that marriage has been defined as a legal/covenant relationship between a man and a woman. However, advocates of same sex unions want to assign a further meaning to that; the union of two people of the same gender (woman/woman or man/man) as a further example. Remember, postmodernism hangs up on meaning, so it is a battle of meaning. In their community, the word marriage means something similar to what traditionalists mean, but not quite. Once postmodernism has nuanced the word to refer to same sex unions, it will be hijacked for other reasons.
Then there is the issue of religious pluralism. I want to introduce you to a man I met in Vermont whose name is, believe it or not, Bryan. While we were assisting a church planter in the area I had a very interesting conversation with Bryan (the reason I’m telling you about Bryan isn’t just to make a point, but so you can earnestly pray for him). Bryan epitomized the postmodern thought that has been proliferated in that state. We discussed the truth of the Gospel and he honestly asked how could I be certain that I am right, and how could the entire rest of the world be wrong (which is a fallacious argument, by the way). He did agreed that Jesus was a good teacher (which again is a fallacious argument considering the exclusive things Jesus taught) but then wasn’t sure exactly what Jesus taught. He rejected authority, certainty and anything that seemed structured. He took the position that God can and does express Himself in all religions but it is up to each person to discover what is right for them.
Postmodernism is the driving force behind “it does not matter which religion you decided to follow, as long as you are sincere” and “who are you to tell me I’m wrong”. Think about how much of this world is driven by this kind of thought. This however is not where it ends. Postmodern thought has crept into almost every church insidiously and is having some very harmful effects. That will be the subject of Part IV.