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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pilate’s Question and Postmodernism



Pilate’s response to Jesus’ statement that he had come to bear witness to the truth, John 18:36-37, is well known.  Pilate’s reply “What is truth?” is a question that has been asked down through the ages.  Up until recent times the idea of truth as a thing man could find, grasp, and hold onto was not in doubt.  Truth was out there, all you had to do was find it.  Today that is being called into question, enter the age of postmodernism.  Postmodernists do not believe objective truth exists in matters of values, morals, and religion.

The postmodernist immediately comes into conflict with Jesus for how can Jesus say he came to bear witness to the truth if truth does not exist?  Again, Jesus said in John 8:45 I tell the truth(NKJV) but he does not tell the truth if the postmodernist is right for truth cannot be told if it does not exist.  The word “truth” is found in 100 verses in the New Testament of the New King James Version of the Bible but to the postmodernist mind set talk about truth is meaningless.  Postmodernism is anti-Christian.

Postmodernists contradict themselves and thus prove the fallacy of their philosophy when they say objective truth does not exist while declaring it to be objective truth that “objective truth does not exist?”  One might add that any talk about “subjective truth” is an oxymoron.  If truth exists at all it is objective truth.  

Truth either exists or it does not.  Truth cannot exist sometimes but not at other times.  No one would deny that there are times when we are unable to discern truth from error but truth always exists whether we discern it or not.  My ignorance of truth does not destroy truth. 

It is easy to see the attractiveness of postmodernism in our society.  If truth does not exist in an absolute sense then you can have your own personal truth and I can have mine.  I will call it “my life.”  No one will be able to judge me or condemn me justly and I will take God and thus accountability out of the picture altogether.  It allows me to “live my own life the way I want to live it.”  Of course, that is the very thing Jesus came to save us from—save us from ourselves.

We have a desire to live our own lives without being judged or held accountable for our actions.  We desire respect and honor even when we do the dishonorable, no one and no authority dare shame us.  If objective truth does not exist who can hold us to any moral accountability?  Not even God himself can for we took him out of the picture, so we think.  

If we try and rationalize our life and behavior by saying this is what is true for me that does not get us off the hook.  It is not about the way I see things, not if God exists and there is a higher power.  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," says the Lord.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9 NKJV)  There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12 NKJV)  “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jer. 10:23b NKJV)

If we say no one believes postmodernism, no one believes objective truth does not exist, then how does one explain the change in moral values that has come about in America in the past 50 to 60 years?  It is hard to say our culture has not been affected by postmodern thought.  According to the Pew Research Center only 5% of our children were born outside marriage in 1960.  Today that number is 41%.  Have our values changed?  We have adopted the idea in our society that anything in moral (should one say “immoral”) conduct should be allowed to stand and no one should say a thing against it or criticize in any way.

As for the New Testament it is not to be allowed in making moral judgments; in that sense it is to be banned from having any influence on our thinking or way of life as a society.  Who among us would deny the effort to secularize America and to take Christianity entirely out of the life of our nation on every level except, at least so far, inside the four walls of places of public worship? 

When I was growing up I remember the Billy Graham crusades would be nationally televised from time to time by one or more of the major TV networks.  Can anyone, and I do mean anyone, imagine such a thing happening in the America of today?  I add I am not a Baptist but I am just making the point of the change that has come over American society just during my lifetime.    

When one takes away the foundations upon which to build a life, some solid rock, some absolute standards of right and wrong, which is the very thing postmodernism does how does one ever judge what one ought to do?  Under postmodern thought you may never be wrong for there is no judgment but can you ever be right for there are no standards.  Life becomes an element of chance, just a guess as to what is the best course of action.

Postmodernism takes away hope, guidance, and direction.  It takes away a purpose for living.  It is ungodly.  There is no hope for heaven.  God becomes a myth.  Here and now is all you have and since there are no standards do as you well please as long as you can stay out of jail.  

Postmodernism is intolerant.  It is not to be questioned.  It is to be accepted no questions asked.  To question it would be to pass judgment, a thing postmodernism will not allow.  If truth does not exist, a tenet of postmodernism, then judgments cannot be passed for if there is no truth there is no standard by which to judge.  But the postmodernists contradict themselves again for they do not hesitate to judge Christianity.  While they claim tolerance they prove themselves to be very intolerant to any who would oppose them.

Postmodernism makes it impossible to judge evil from good and thus comes into conflict with the Bible for judging evil from good is a thing one finds on almost every page of the Bible.  Evil, from the postmodernist’s point of view, is not to be fought for who can define evil?  Who can pass judgment?   

If one cannot judge evil then one wonders what action a true postmodernist might take if someone was to break into his home to rape, pillage, and kill?  If objective truth does not exist how can one declare the intruder’s actions to be evil and therefore justifiably resist them?  

When as the old saying goes the rubber meets the road this is a most dangerous philosophy for it presumes real evil does not exist in this world.  Evil is just a judgment call.  Did Hitler exist or was he just a figment of the imagination?  Does ISIS exist or is it just a bad dream?  When evil is not confronted where does that leave the individual or the nation?

The postmodernist’s mindset undermines the foundation of many of what man has considered to be virtues down through the ages--things like love, kindness, goodness, self-control--for without absolute truth existing how do you define any of these things?  If you cannot define virtues how do you express them?  Was Hitler’s definition of love as good as anyone else’s?  A postmodernist cannot be consistent and say no but a Christian can. 

More and more people are coming down on Christianity declaring it to be intolerant and judgmental, an evil in the world.  Why?  The answer is because very subtly postmodernist thought has crept into the very pores of our society.  One can almost say of our society today that if the Bible is for it we are against it and if the Bible is against it we are for it.

Adultery is commonplace today, fornication and living together outside of marriage are things people think little about, and now the desire seems to be to make homosexual relationships an honorable thing on par with the marriage God ordained in the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6).

Add to those things abortion which runs rampant.  Planned Parenthood reported 327,653 abortions in 2014 which averages out to 37 an hour and the president of the organization says they are proud to provide the procedure so we kill babies and are proud of the opportunity to help people do it.

In our quest to live our own lives the way we want we end up discarding the New Testament of Christ as having any real impact on our lives and in our society.  We will do as we please.  We have become a secular non-God fearing society.     

The problem every man has with the Bible is that it acts as a mirror.  We read it and begin thinking thoughts that trouble us for we see ourselves as we truly are—sinners.  The word of God judges us (John 12:48) and we know that judgment condemns us.  It is more pleasing to reject the word of God and its values than to accept it.

God offers grace and salvation to sinners but that would require giving up the life we desire to live and submitting our will to God’s will (I want to live my own life is the cry).  Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20 NKJV)  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…” (John 3:19 NKJV)

How does one create within a man or woman a love for God, a longing and a desire for God?  How does one create within a man a felt need for God?  Right now those feelings are in short supply and a national longing for God does not exist.  According to the statistics I have seen only around 17 percent of Americans will be in any kind of Christian worship service on an average Sunday (see The American Church in Crisis by David Olson).  As long as America is at war with God truth will elude it. 

If America and the modern day American cannot find objective truth that does not mean God has lost it.  God seems to know good from evil; he is willing to judge it.   

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  (2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV) 

Where does that leave the postmodernist in the Day of Judgment?  They can only hope Christianity is just a fairy tale but if it is then man is just another animal whose life ultimately amounts to nothing.  That is the joy found in postmodern thought.  Hope is destroyed and man is doomed to an eternal grave.

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