July 24, 2012

The Death of Truth III: Why Postmodernists Scorn Christianity

The Problem Specific to Christianity

The reason that Postmodernism becomes problematic for non-pluralistic religions like Christianity is because of its illogical proposition that there can be no valid absolute truth claims. Any person, religion or belief system that would be so bold as to make an absolute truth claim like Christianity is therefore deemed or condemned by postmodernism as an invalid view because of its exclusivist truth claim(s).  Monotheistic religions tend to do this by their nature because they call people to believe in one God therefore making a truth claim to a single deity or Godhead. Judaism, Islam and Christianity are by their very nature exclusivist.

Christianity is exceptionally exclusivist because in its main underlying premises and doctrines, it makes exacting demands on humanity and explains the reality of the universe and man’s place in it in explicit rock-solid and unwavering terms. These are the enemy of the postmodernist. Christianity shows that humanity is naturally sinful and fallen in their natural condition due to Original Sin. It even shows that salvation is not by works only through faith in God (even Islam and Judaism don’t believe this). Although Postmodernism will acknowledge evil, the truth is they have no suitable explanation of its origins, nor do they have a way to deal with it. This is probably because it is hard for them to define and pin down in an absence of absolute or objective truth(s) (Webber 40-41).  Christianity believes that humanity is incapable of any good without the involvement of the Holy Spirit or God as described in the Bible. The Bible further ratchets-up the demands and makes further absolute truth claims when it states that there is absolutely no way to the Father or eternal life except through Jesus Christ and acceptance of the Gospel which is the very essence of Christianity (Webber 31, 39-40, 43, 50). Christianity is extremely exclusivist in its worldview and its means/path to salvation. There is no pluralism here in terms of gods, paths to salvation or means of redemption. There is only one way to salvation and it is explicitly spelled out and literally demanded as entry to Heaven. As such Christianity is the virtual antithesis of the postmodernist worldview and it is viewed negatively because of this.

The Inclusivism of the Non-Christianity Crowd

Interestingly, those religions that are not monotheistic, inclusivist, not dedicated to absolute truth claims but rather have a plurality or pantheon of gods or focus on the individual “self’s/selves/ or no self” as paths to enlightenment tend to be more tolerated by a postmodernist worldview (Newport 68-69, 84). We see the same in worldviews like the Neo-Paganism or Ancient Nature Religions such as Druidism and Wicca due to the wide variety of paths and variety of beliefs (pluralism). This appears to be because of their “live and let live attitude” and complete lack of exacting demands on the adherents other than the nebulous and nearly meaningless mantra: “Do no harm”. This is because all of these religions allow for a plurality or diversity of more than one possible truth. Because of this we tend to see pluralistic religions (Bahai), religions focusing on many individual paths to salvation/enlightenment (Buddhism) or religions that give off the appearance of plurality and tolerance (Hinduism) thrive in Postmodern culture/society (Newport 68-69, 83-85). This is not to say that the religions have to be pluralistic in the purest sense, they just need to appear to be. Although religions like Bahai and Hinduism will claim to be monotheistic, this needs to be viewed as a probable misuse of the term. Hinduism says God can take many forms but is manifestations of one God. If anything Hinduism and Baha’ism appear to be henotheistic which means that they believe in one supreme or a specially venerated god who is not the only god or deity possible (“Henotheism” Merriam-Webster 2012). Baha’ism on the other hand is pluralistic in its acceptance of many religion’s prophets as all being manifestations or the One True God. Therefore, to call these two religions monotheistic is a dubious assertion

The Real Hidden Danger of Postmodernism

The reason the aforementioned antithetical relationship is so dangerous to Christianity is because postmodernism appears to have run amok in the United States which is one of the most influential entities in the world. It has also crossed over geo-political boundaries to other countries but is appears to have jump over what amounts to theological/philosophical boundaries also or the imaginary boundary between Church and State. It has breached into not only our government but also our churches. If churches are to be the last bastion of truth and even they are becoming polluted with this pluralistic mindset of truth, where are people to turn? Where will truth be found?

With no obvious anchor for truth, therefore no anchor for morality to be based on, morality and truth are cut loose and left adrift on an indefinable sea of uncertainty for both church and the culture. It is because the real hidden danger of postmodernism to Christianity is that it seems to deny the ability to know things for sure. It can even undermine the construction or deconstruct language by stating that words can be interpreted differently (Webber 23, Westphal 128). Because of this, the textually extensive Bible becomes this ever shifting morass of ancient languages that would need to be open to everyone’s subjective interpretations that are subject to the reader’s presuppositions. This is exactly what we have begun to see in the culture. Socialists come to the text with a “Social Gospel” style approach where man needs to make the changes to usher in the Kingdom of God. Homosexuality comes to the text with a favorable hermeneutic towards homosexuality and so on. Due to these factors, the underpinnings of both moral and spiritual truth become subject to question and opened perpetually to re-evaluation. This means that the absolute truths or objective truths contain within the Bible (Groothuis 67) then become forever suspect to a Postmodernist (Slick, paragraph 4).

For a Christian, this is an untenable premise. It completely undermines the Christian at its core: The Scriptures and what Scripture say about Jesus Christ. In a modern human civilization mostly founded on the pursuit of truth through Scholasticism’s clear absolute propositions about nature, time, space, God, predictability (i.e.: Christian-like belief) there was structure and cogency. Now, as humanity drifts away from this there is mounting confusion, disorder and therefore moral debasement resulting (German 983, Slick, paragraph 14).

These two beliefs / religions: Christianity and Postmodernism, contradict one another and are therefore irreconcilable and nor should they be reconciled on moral and spiritual grounds (Moreland 86). If they are homogenized what will result is a modern from of syncretism (or moral syncretism). Both cannot make claims to absolute truth at the same time. Postmodernism may make most of its claims about subjective truth but by saying Christianity itself cannot make its claims, it is trying to override another faith that lives by absolute truth statements. It thereby oversteps its supposed “subjective” bounds. Therefore, according to the Law of Non-Contradiction and other logic arguments, one must abandoned the Postmodernist religion as untenable. 

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