Thursday, October 24, 2013

Postmodernism: Half-way Committed to Truth...

Before we get into explaining what the title means, it's important to know what the definition of Postmodernism is.  

In his book Why It Matters: Avoiding Shipwreck at Cape Dissapointment, Dr. Jim Jenkins quoted the definition of Postmodernism from an article from, an article that was later taken down.  In his analysis of the definition, Jenkins said that Postmodernism was primarily a reaction (to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality) that constructs reality in the mind rather than relying on objective truth, and reality only comes into being through human interpretation, which means that personal experience trumps propositional truth (Jenkins 75-76).  

How does that play out in reality?  To answer that question, we'll take a look at how Postmodernism has affected four specific religions:  Mormonism, Catholicism, Atheism, and Christianity.    


When we look at Mormonism, the mainstream Mormons are considered to be the "True" Mormons because of their renunciation of Polygamy in 1890, and their acceptance of African Americans into the Mormon priesthood in 1978 in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement.  Their ability to do away with fundamental doctrines when pressured to do so by the culture around them makes them a favorite religion of our Postmodern society.  On the flip side, the fundamentalist Mormons would tell you that they're the true Mormons because they practice everything that Joseph Smith taught and practiced, which is why they split off from the Mainstream Mormons in 1890 after the LDS Church renounced the doctrine of Polygamy.  

In order to figure out who's right, it's important to look at what Brigham Young, former Mormon President and founder of Brigham Young University, had to say about it:  

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."  (Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.268 - p.269, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866)

"Now if any of you will DENY THE PLURALITY OF WIVES and continue to do so, I promise that you will be DAMNED; and I will go still further, and say that this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord had given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that YOU WILL BE DAMNED!"  (Deseret News, Brigham Young, Nov. 14, 1855)          

By Brigham Young's definition, the mainstream Mormons who renounced Polygamy in 1890, and everyone who follows mainstream Mormon doctrine, will be damned to Outer Darkness, and the Fundamentalist Mormons who hold to everything Joseph Smith said and taught, will go to the Celestial Kingdom.  That means that the Fundamentalist Mormons are in fact THE true Mormons.  Despite all this, the Fundamentalist Mormons are by and large considered to be just an extremist sect of Mormonism.  


When we look at Catholicism in our Postmodern society, Catholics will tell us that they don't really worship the Virgin Mary, but that she has a special place of honor above all the angels in heaven, and that the one thing that proves that they don't worship Mary is that they don't offer sacrifices to her.  While that sounds good on the surface, when you take the time to look into what the official catholic doctrine says about Mary, it becomes clear that Catholicism is worshiping Mary. In short, Catholics say one thing publicly, but when you look at their official doctrines, it becomes clear that they're not telling the truth about their doctrines, whether they're doing it intentionally or in ignorance.  

The current Pope, Pope Francis, became popular when upon taking office, he made a push for the uniting of all the world religions.  There was one other thing that Pope Francis said that really caused a stir:  Pope Francis declared that Atheists could go to heaven.  In terms of describing exactly how that would happen, Pope Francis said the following in a letter to the founder of La Repubblica:

"First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action."

The above quote is EVERYTHING in the letter that Pope Francis has to say about exactly how atheists can get to heaven; nothing is being withheld here.  What Pope Francis is essentially saying is that the atheist first has to decide in his own mind a completely subjective moral standard that he is going to live by (he defines good and evil in his own head).  Then, if the atheist does something that goes against his completely subjective moral standard, that is a sin.  Finally, when God looks at the atheist at the end of his life and the atheist is sorry about the times that he violated his own completely subjective moral standard, God will forgive the atheist of all the times that the atheist violated his own subjective moral standard, and he will allow the atheist into heaven.

Not only is what Pope Francis said completely unbiblical, it's not even correct according to Catholic doctrine.  According to catholic doctrine, a person has to believe in the gospels and everything the catholic church has to say (Catechism of Catholic Church 1814), be baptized by a priest (Catechism of Catholic Church 1257), and perform good works the rest of their lives (Catechism of Catholic Church 2010) in order to go to heaven.

So while we have modern Catholics denying that they worship Mary, and Pope Francis declaring that essentially everyone (including Atheists) is going to heaven, the fact of the matter is that they are not true Catholics because they deny or hide the doctrines of their religion.  sadly, our postmodern society holds up such Catholics and Pope Francis as good Catholics.


Although they don't like being called a religion, Atheism is yet another religion that caves in to the winds of Postmodernism.  Before we explore exactly how that is so, it's important to know exactly what Atheism is.  While different atheists say it in different ways, what it comes down to is that Atheists believe that God doesn't exist.

If atheism is correct, and in reality there is no God, what are the logical consequences?  Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most famous Atheist philosophers who ever lived, said it brilliantly: 

"When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces: one has nothing of any consequence left in one’s hands. Christian morality is a command: its origin is transcendental, it possesses truth only if God is truth-it stands or falls with belief in God."

To put it simply, if there is no God, there is no mind prior to the human mind to define what is right or wrong, which means that the human mind defines what is right and wrong; that means that morality is completely relative, depending on which individual and/or society you talk to.   

While there are some Atheists who are comfortable with the idea that there is no such thing as an objective moral, many atheists simply cannot accept that, and try to explain how there can be an objective moral without a need for God.  Unfortunately, such arguments break down very quickly under some basic scrutiny.

When you look at modern American atheists, their loudest claim is that they are more than capable of doing good works in their day to day lives, and they tend to emphasize that they don't need to believe in a god to do it.  While it is absolutely true that you don't need to believe in a god to do good works, how does the atheist know that the works they're doing are good?  Who defines good?  The individual, or a society/culture?  Whichever choice you pick, it's all completely subjective.  No matter how you slice it, if there is no God, there is no such thing as an absolute right and wrong, which was the whole point that Nietzsche was making.            

In the end, the atheists who are held up the most in our postmodern society are atheists who cling to some form of objective truth and believe in such things as right and wrong.  The truth about such people is that they are being intellectually inconsistent; their world view tells them that there is no such thing as objective truth, but they act like objective truth is real.  Nevertheless, our postmodern society holds them up as great atheists.    


When you look at Christianity, it becomes very clear (more so than in Mormonism, Catholicism, and Atheism) that Postmodernism's half-commitment approach has sunk its talons into the faith.  We could go multiple different directions, but for the sake of this blog, we'll stick with two:  Christians judging others, and Jesus being the only way to heaven.

One symptom of Postmodernism that can be seen is this idea that Christians should not judge people.  This idea is not only permeated by non-Christians who hate having their sin exposed, but sadly this idea is also permeated by Christians who mangle scripture and take them out of context to make the case that Christians aren't supposed to judge people.

Unfortunately for such Christians, Jesus never taught that.  Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-5:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

When most people quote this part of Matthew to say that Christians shouldn't be judging people, they ignore what verses 3-5 say.  As we can clearly see, Jesus is condemning hypocritical judging, and in verse five, even explains how to avoid hypocritically judging others.  Jesus expands on this in John 7:19-24:

"'Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?'

'You are demon-possessed,' the crowd answered. 'Who is trying to kill you?'

Jesus said to them, 'I did one miracle, and you are all amazed.  Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs),you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath.  Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?  Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.'”

When it comes to the Christian claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven, there are many people, both non-Christian and Christian alike, who insist that Jesus Christ is not the only way to heaven, that you can be a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, Atheist, etc., and still go to heaven.  Unfortunately for them, Jesus Christ made a very specific claim in John 14: 6-7:

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'”

Jesus is clearly claiming that he is the only way to heaven, and by default, that means that the people who reject him, which is the majority of the world, will spend eternity in Hell, something that Jesus confirmed in Matthew 7:13-14:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
The bottom line with Christianity is that our Postmodern society holds up Christians who reject Jesus's exclusive claims and adopt more inclusive, unbiblical doctrines as good Christians, and they regard Christians who believe and cling to the words and teachings of Jesus Christ as intolerant, judgmental bigots who are a threat to world peace.  


When I look at Postmodernism, i see a consistent message:  

"We don't mind your religion, so long as you are only half-way committed to it."

When I think of how this half-way commitment approach shows up in the different religions, I think of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3: 1-5:

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people."

When Paul uses the word "Godliness," he is specifically referring to living a good and holy life that springs from having a deep reverence for God.  When Paul says "having a form of godliness, but denying its power," what he means is that people try to look like they're living a good and Holy life by trying to do good deeds, but on the inside, they do not have any reverence for God, which makes their good deeds worthless before God, according to Isaiah 64:6:  

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

When I look at the half-way commitment approach that Postmodernism has brought into religion, I ask myself:  What is the point of doing it?  The most reasonable conclusion I can come to is that such people want to go to heaven, but they don't want to do it on God's terms.  They seem to think that they can bribe God with their good works.  Isaiah 64:6 makes it clear that God is so holy and righteous that he cannot be bribed by good works.  

If we can't get to heaven by our good deeds, then how can we get to heaven?  It's very simply, yet profound.  We have to put our faith in Jesus Christ, repent of all our sins, and accept salvation as the free gift of God that it is.  Here are some bible verses that support that idea:

John 3:16-18:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."

2 Corinthians 7:10:  "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

Ephesians 2: 8-9:  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."

As a born-again disciple of Jesus Christ, I beg you the reader to not fall into step with the Postmodern society around you.  All Postmodernism does is allow people to justify their own evil, and those who promote Postmodern thinking do not care about your soul or where you will spend eternity.  I don't want to see anyone in Hell, so I beg you to come celebrate and live in truth with Truth Incarnate, Jesus Christ.  There is such a thing as objective truth, and Jesus clearly believed that when he said the following in John 18:37:

"...The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."