Monday 18 June 2012

Post-modernism in Western Society: "I feel, therefore I am".

The dominant worldview at the present time in England, but also in the Western world is called post-modernism. Post-modernism began around the 1960's as a reaction to the rather arrogant claims of absolute knowledge by the modernists. Modernity reached it's climax, which was the 'age of reason'. One of the quantum shifts was probably from a mindset that confessed "I think, therefore I am" to "I feel, therefore I am".

Absolute facts gave way to the highest authority in post-modernism which is the opinion of the individual. No one person is right, we all have a view and though it is subjective, it must be expressed. All opinions are equally valid, protests the post-modern person. This produces a reaction and disdain of authority, of moral absolutes and political correctness is the order of the day. Tolerance is the new anthem. However, there is a problem. The Achilles' heel of post-modernism is that it is itself extremely intolerant of absolute truth. This leaves post-modernity in a dilemma.

Why is this? The Lord Jesus Christ made absolute claims such as His uniqueness and therefore Jesus is intolerant of the claims of other religions. Jesus Christ said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). The Book of Acts presents a similar view of the early church as we read: 'And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved'. Christian's have often taken on a post-modern world view which is a form of worldliness and it is without people often realising it. Here are some examples of post-modernity.

1. Christian worship becomes an individual experience, often with the aid of Beatles' style music bands to facilitate the desired experience.

2. An in-built resistance to biblical authority structures develops. After all, everyone has an equally valid subjective idea and opinion. People just assume that their interpretation of matters is just as valid as those of a trained pastor, even when they are wrong.

3. Every individual needs to be aware of the advantages but also the dangers of using the internet, because we can find people online and instantly who will agree with us. This could cause us as Christians to simply seek people out who agree with us and we must remember that the internet and private study cannot substitute the church. This may not be a danger directly related to post-modernism but it can be. We all need to be aware of holding private interpretations which do not have a historic or confessional foundation ('Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation', 2 Peter 1:20).

4. In the realm of politics there develops a crisis of conscience because due to evolution and post-modernism there are no right and wrongs. Adultery becomes a life-choice and it is no longer called sin or declared to be wrong. This then contradicts the voice of God in the Ten Commandments.

5. Post-modernism looks down on history. What can history teach us when there is no God controlling things? History becomes a series of random events, and rather antiquated ones at that. Facts do not count, but the personal opinion of the interpreter becomes what really counts.

6. Modern art captures this prevailing thought. A piece of confused seemingly meaningless art is paraded in the world's art galleries and the question becomes: 'What does this art mean to you?'. One person says they can see a political uprising in a Salvadore Dali painting, another says 'I can see a whale', another cries 'It is a balloon'. All are right, because this style of art is intended to create an open-ended response.

7. Reformed confessions are not seen as necessary by Christians who have fallen prey to post-modernism. A post-modern Christian is excited about new ways of doing things and new interpretations of the Bible. Objective truth or the intended meaning of scripture is not the desire of a professing Christian who has been overcome by post-modernism, often unknowingly.

Let us consider how much this prevailing worldview has affected you. How does this impact your view of authority, the authority of the Scriptures, or the authority of God? In what way have you taken on a post-modern worldview without realising it? If you are a Christian, here is a prayer of David that you could pray.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!(Psalm 139:23-24).

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