From Stand To Reason's
"Solid Ground" Newsletter Jul/Aug 07
Truth is a Strange Sort of Fiction Part V:
Christianity and Postmoderism: The Emerging Church
by Greg Koukl
- To be good ambassadors for Christ we must have a working knowledge of two things: the dangerous philosophies of men Paul warned of (Colossians 2:8) and the life-giving truth of Christ that is their antidote. This will help us recognize the dangers new cultural ideas present and keep the church true to the message of the Gospel even when employing new methods.
- Use the four watershed issues: the truth/knowledge equation, the authority of the Bible, the work of the Cross, and the Great Commission to understand where any movement within Christianity stands.
- Remember that Christians have an important ally in this war of ideas: reality. Human beings must live in the world God created.
- To reach our postmodern culture keep in mind the tactical question: “Why do we all feel guilty?” The answer to guilt is not denial, the answer is forgiveness. This is where Jesus comes in.
In the previous post, I mentioned how Eastern religions and how many within the emergent church essentially seek to rid themselves of the inconvenience of discernment though eliminating the veracity of reality. Make everything true and morally neutral, and your problems melt away. But why does morality present problems? Because we are all guilty of doing wrong, we all feel guilt, the dilemma of mankind. We feel guilty because we are guilty of imperfection. God is God and we are not. The sense, our sense, of this loss of transcendence haunts us all.
So how to get around this problem?
Nietzsche believed that the will to power would cause the super man to rise to the heights of success and the weak would perish. Man could pull himself up by his own bootstraps. Science and intellect could bring us to a better place in the world. Altruism could do it. Objectivism could do it. Naturualism, Communism, Positivism, Marxism, Dominionism, Intellectualism, Socialism, Religious Legalism, Paternalism, Sacerdotalism, and "isms" ad infinitum.... We all put our hopes in man’s efforts of collectivism of one sort or another, or of individualism – anything to avoid coming to Christ to solve our dilemma of guilt and our enslavement to it. Man tries to be like God, yet he is a slave, no matter how he aspires to free himself outside of Christ. Freedom in Christ is the message of the Cross. Christ was crucified and paid our penalty that we might be made free. He shed His own sinless Blood in our stead, imputing us with His righteousness and by bearing our sins. No "isms." No earning points or working off debts. He paid them with His own precious Blood, the debt we are never capable of paying through any act of goodness. He loved us that much.
In several of the audio and video resources noted in previous posts on both postmodernism and the emergent church, a theme emerges. The postmodernist wants to be free from constraint. They want to think freely and be free from deception, as Nietzsche often wrote about concerning what he understood as a religious illusion of man's own making. He watched the religious leaders of his day sit in seminaries and tear apart the Scriptures and live the most hypocritical lives. Nietzsche pronounced God’s obituary after he watched seminaries all over Europe making a mockery of Him and killing Him, all without his (Nietzsche's) help. He thought he was just reporting the news. And he sought to be free of both the hypocrisy and what he saw as the contrived rules of religion. In 1989, Nietzsche suffered a physical collapse and then a psychotic break. He had a couple other neurologic events and died while mad from syphilis. He died a madman.
Postmodern theorists seek to be free of not only God but also of reality and truth. Truth is what they say it is. They, too, seek this freedom that Nietzsche sought. They seek to be original and unencumbered by limited interpretation – to be autonomous and self-directed without limits. They seek to be free of the hypocrisy of the past and the form of the past. And like Nietzsche, postmoderns also wrestle with guilt over exclusion. But as many of the resources noted here on this blog also point out, if postmoderns want to be free, they are going about it in a very convoluted way. They are attempting to change or redefine the universal constant of right and wrong – of truth itself. And there are much better ways to find autonomy and freedom.
If autonomy (as Ravi Zacharias suggests in the videos on postmodernism) and if freedom from guilt (as Koukl suggests in this article pertaining to the emergent church) is the ultimate destination, then the answer to the dilemma is not dissolving truth through denial. The answer is forgiveness.
If you have been wounded in a religious group or in a religious relationship, the key to your healing does not rest in denial. It does not rest in removing all distinctions of doctrine by blurring that which God has established as Truth in His Word. If you trusted a belief system or that which others told you that the Bible said through lenses that added legalism to the liberating message of the Cross, realize that the solution to your pain, disappointment and confusion does not rest in denial. Your freedom awaits you in forgiveness. We find forgiveness in the Cross, and God works forgiveness into us for those who so wounded us in the house of our friends. Though the journey is painful and it need not mean that we have to return and reconcile with those who wounded us with the twisting of the Word, in the journey of forgiveness is our freedom.
Put your knowledge into action. God created you as a reasonable person of both heart and mind. You need not sacrifice wholeness of heart for wholeness of mind, or vice versa. Though we cannot see through the eyes of our Creator, the Word clearly states that we can know certainty and truth. In that truth, freedom in Christ awaits us whose character we know through the Word of God. (Surely if we are to be transformed into His character, we can know and discern that character with certainty.) The work of the Cross of Christ is sure and true, and it is offered to all who believe in Christ Jesus, confessing their faith in Him and no other. The Great Commission is not feeding the poor. It is preaching forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ Jesus, the narrow way.
If I were the one who set the stars in the heavens, created the world and wrote the Book, I would have made provisions. I would have made everything easy and painless and pleasant. All would be joy and happiness, and I would have made no lack. There would be no hard decisions or hard work. All would be merry and light. And it would be self-serving.
But to the relief and benefit of all, I am God’s creature and I am guided by His hand (not He by mine). He wrote His Word on man’s heart, and He gave us His faithful promises in Scripture, a Book of both history and faith. Though He is HOLY, He also has more grace and mercy than any of us can comprehend. In Him is our healing, our hope, and our freedom.