Postmodern Propositions

2 02 2007

Filed under: Postmodernism, Emergent, Church

Gary DeMar has been addressing the Emergent Church movement called Postmodernism. This column is noteworthy as he dissects the verses that are at the root of the Postmodernism:

Truth is the very heart of the Christian faith. Jesus told his first-century hearers: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). He also declared Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). While the Bible never claims to give us exhaustive knowledge, it does claim to give us sufficient knowledge. The truth that the Bible contains will be enough for our finite minds to ponder for a thousand lifetimes. John ends his Gospel by informing us that: “[T]here are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Even though we don’t have everything recorded for us that Jesus did while He was on earth, we can be assured that what we do have is more than enough to keep our brains occupied.

The Bible is also filled with much mystery and complication. The very fact that so much disagreement exists between various sects and denominations over the very same passages of the Bible is evidence enough that the Bible is not always as obvious or clear as we would like it to be. The Apostle Paul confirms this in several places in his writings (e.g., 1 Cor. 2:7; 13:2; Eph. 6:19; 1 Tim. 3:9) and Peter tells us that some of Paul’s writings are “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). Despite this, Peter continues, “which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men…” (2 Pet. 3:16-17). Even though Peter admits that some things are hard to understand, we are still expected to be able to discern and learn from these difficult writings. Not only that, Peter dutifully informs us that unprincipled men will try to use these very difficult writings to twist Scripture to their own brand of “truth.” While certain Scriptures may be mysterious to us, Peter says, there is one truth that is being communicated, and we are expected to be able to discern what that is—even though it may be hard to understand.

Oftentimes the famous verse from Deuteronomy will come up when we are confronted with a difficult passage of Scripture. Deuteronomy 29:29 reads: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” This verse has been used as a justification for Biblical laziness for far too long. This verse actually teaches the opposite of what many Bible teachers want it to say. It doesn’t free us from attempting to understand the “hard sayings” of Scripture, quite the contrary. This verse basically tells us that what God hasn’t told us is “secret,” but what He has revealed belong to us and are for us to understand and observe. This verse doesn’t release us from deeper study—it calls us to it.

The “emerging church” is asking us to believe that the church has blown it in many ways.

Absolutely.

They believe that the church has elevated the propositional truth of Christianity over the relational.

Again, guilty as charged.

However, they next ask us to make the leap of logic into affirming the validity of dialectical tension.

This is the whole idea behind the “conversations” of the Emergents.

They have bought into Hegel’s rejection of basic logic and his philosophy of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Hoping to find compromise where it doesn’t (and can’t) exist, the Emergents are hoping that their open minds and big hearts will find a common ground with a culture that has all but given up on the organized, propositional-truth loving church. A noble goal indeed, but when you mix light with darkness, you end up with a room filled with shadows and places to hide. Jesus never watered His message down to meet the felt needs of His hearers, He always gave it to them straight. To the woman caught in adultery, He said “sin no more.” To the rich young ruler, He said, “give everything away and follow Me.” And to His disciples (and us) He says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus never asked his disciples what a Scripture meant to them, He told them what it meant. “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Mt. 7:28-29).

While there is no doubt that we do, in fact, allow our Westernized, 21st century minds to make some things in the Bible far more rigid than they were ever meant to be, we can’t allow the clear propositional truth of Scripture to fall victim to this. The “analogy of faith” is still the best rule for a life dedicated to “sola Scriptura.” The Bible gives us the standard that we are then to take to the world. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Mt. 28:19-20).

Reforming the culture and the church will not come through any postmodern notion of “synthesis” or conversation, but by individual Christians who are “not conformed to this world, but are transformed by the renewing of their minds” (Rom. 12:2). Only then can the church, “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), effectively do its Christ-given mandate of making disciples of all nations.

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