Monday, September 05, 2011

Modernism Criticizes Post-Modernism: What Of It?

Bill Whittle has produced some very informative, helpful, and still entertaining presentations for his PJTV, this another one of them. At worst, it is a modernist criticism of postmodernism. At one point, Whittle says progressives "are stealing. . . . stealing the credibility of the word truth. . . and gluing it on to the front of their opinion to buff it up and give it some unearned weight and respect." This idea that there can be several truths, truths which contradict each other, that everyone can have their own truth, is a postmodernistic idea. The truth to one postmodernist is as a good as anyone else's truth. Whittle's position does sound like it must be right, but it is at its worst still in fitting with modernism, and modernism is how we got in the mess that Whittle decries. Let me explain.

The idea of one truth traces to a single worldview that Whittle doesn't mention, that is, the position that there is one God. Without the One Creator Who revealed Himself to us through the Bible, we have no basis for one truth or logic. Modernism, for instance, would say that there is an "objective" reality based upon science, but even with that viewpoint, everything is still an accident, because it originated through entirely natural means. Spouting and fizzing chemicals, all that we are according to these objective facts, cannot say that one idea is better than another, and this is from where postmodernism gets it start. Scientific explanations are not enough, a criticism of modernism that postmodernism has right. Modern science falls short of providing a suitable or acceptable explanation for the present state of matter, space, energy, time, mankind.

What is ironic is that Whittle himself is stealing, or a word we normally use, borrowing, from the Christian worldview, the only one in which we have a basis for one truth. That is at the worst. At the best, when he says "truth," he does believe that God's Word is Truth (John 17:17), that all truth starts and ends with God. I'm not saying that Whittle is a modernist. I can't tell if he is or isn't by this presentation, because he doesn't mention it. An optimistic view of his speech here says that he stands for a pre-modern, Christian worldview.

Where we got where we are today is when "the Truth" could be corrected by man's reasoning. The pre-modern view says that the only True view of the world comes from a position of majesty, immutability, sovereignty, wisdom, and power outside of the ruination of sin. Man can't come to the Truth outside of God. His understanding is skewed. His "discoveries," what He sees as "science," can't correct what God already said. Man is by nature deceived. He gets it wrong most of the time and so must expose his reasoning to the judgment of a holy God. God exists outside of this box of space and time, sees the beginning and the ending, and knows the relations of everything in the middle to the start and the finish, where He both was, is, and will be. He has the right evaluation of everything. Whatever He says about anything is true.

Man ran into trouble when he started subjecting what God said to his own reasoning. Man still said he believed in one truth with modernism. He subjected what God said to his own observation and elevated that above what God revealed. And this occurred across the board with the Bible. Whatever in the Bible didn't fit with man's observation was rejected. That eradicated the faith position. And, of course, without faith it is impossible to please God. God can't be pleased with modernism or those who believe it.

Modernism would say that the one truth is the one man can observe. What the Bible said couldn't be true if it couldn't be proven either through the laboratory or through old ancient manuscripts or archaeological finds. Of course, men had their own desires that clashed with Scripture and the dismissal of the Bible fit quite nicely with that. "Science" gave and gives men cover for their own lusts.

Modernism dealt with the contradictions with a two book theory, the science book and the theology book. It was OK to believe both. One was science and the other was theology. And theologians gladly began to fit into both books to gain academic credibility, to be both scientists and theologians, and to be accredited by the world. This continues today, but the two books deteriorated into what is now a mult-book environment, which is postmodernism. This, of course, impacted art, literature, and music.

At one time, what was true and good and beautiful was all related to God. This is the transcendent view of the world in which everything is understood through a prism of Divine imagination. Truth was God's truth, goodness was God's goodness, and beauty was God's beauty. The principles of God's Word guided all aspects of life.

The "two truth" view has for sure entered into even conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism. I'm not saying that these Christian movements would say there are two truths. They have been influenced by the multi-truth postmodernism. They criticize postmodernism, but really only in its evaluation of the "essential" or "fundamental" doctrines, which are increasingly being reduced to a bare minimum. What holds the coalition together is their toleration of doctrinal differences. That has become the cardinal doctrine of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, making the chief enemy the dogmatic, the one who separates over more than minimal positions. Within their imaginary ideal, conservatives and evangelicals hold one truth, but in the real world, they practice multi-truth. More than one truth is acceptable with not accepting more than one all that is unacceptable.

Multi-truth is directly related to multi-Bible. Multi-Bible is the greater to the multi-truth lesser. The Bible is the source of truth, so if we aren't sure of what the Bible is, how would we be sure of what the truth is? Theology was once the queen of the sciences with the Bible the sole authority. Now we don't even know what the Bible is because of "science," the science of textual criticism. I know some of you reading are now sighing or rolling your eyes, but this is the truth. When we are willing to take the Bible itself out of the hands of theologians, out of the hands of the church, to move it from its place of transcendence, and move it into the laboratory of man's observations and reasoning, everything else will go with it.

People on both sides of that one hundred mile stretch between Key West and Cuba will stand before God no matter what their socio-economic level. The people who lived on the wrong side of the Berlin wall could have joyfully survived Communism by the grace of God. The problem isn't an economic one, but a matter of heart and soul. That's the truth.

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