Ideas have Consequences

The other day I posted on my Facebook page a link to a blog that was pointing out the dangers of the “Prosperity Gospel” and of a few false teachers.  You can check out that blog here.      The purpose of my posting the blog on my Facebook was to point out that the “Prosperity Gospel” is really no Gospel at all and Christians should stay away from this teaching.   The Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 2:

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

There is much information on the danger of the “Prosperity Gospel” available.  Shai Linne a Christian Rapper does a thorough job of explaining it in his song “Fal$e Teacher$.” As bad at the “Prosperity Gospel” is, that is not my primary purpose in writing this post.  Instead it is the responses to my Facebook post that have inspired this writing.  One person responded to my FB post with this comment:

I preached part time for almost 10 years. The last thing that would occur to me, was to claim that MINE was the true interpreatation of the scriptures. . .
Remember: Muslimes are convinced enough that THEIRS is the truth, that they blow themselves up

This response is not really out of the ordinary and if you look at the comments on the blog itself, they all say similar things.  There seems to be a spirit today among the culture that views anyone who makes a truth claim with suspicion.   It is this post-modern philosophy that has invaded every aspect of culture and discussion.  As bad as the “Prosperity Gospel” is , it is post-modern philosophy that is far worse and that actually allows preachers like Joel Osteen to flourish.

So what is post-modernism? Here is a video that takes a quick look at it.     The video is really too brief but does make a good point that a definition of postmodernism is hard to nail down.   Dr, Henry F. Shaefer, a 5 time Noble prize nominee and renowned physical scientist with specialization in quantum mechanics,  gives a simple definition and addresses the problem of Postmodernism:

Postmodernism is one of the more influential forces in universities in North America and  Western Europe in the early years of the twenty-first century. . . Without the time to discus ts historic and cultural origins (e.g., Jacques Derrida), suffice to say that postmodernism hold to an epistemology of skepticism.  Postmodernism believes that humans are hopelessly subjective and unable to say anything meaningful about reality. . .  Postmodernists maintain that our senses cannot be trusted to accurately represent reality; and reason is a Western cultural construct that gives little insight into the actual nature of things. Given these presuppositions; such scholars hold that insistence upon any version of reality is an effort to subjugate and marginalize others. All assertions of so-called truth are thinly veiled efforts to dominate others.

This explains why people react so harshly when someone makes a truth claim.   The same person on my FB post also made this comment comparing the calling out of false teachers with the incorrect popular understanding of Galileo and the inquisition:

“But, you must be right: Your interpretation (whatever that is) is the TRUE one. . . the other 400 plus denominations are just blind idiots!
Being certain of something, does not make it the truth. There have been many splats from people who just didn’t believe in gravity. Galileo was almost burned at the stake because of people who were certain.

It seems that claiming the one is correct or knows the truth about a particular instance is the same as wanting to burn others at the stake.  It does seem to be as Shai Linne says in the rap above, “The only heresy today is to say that there is heresy.”

Jerram Barrs, professor of Covenant Theological Seminary summarizes the 4 ingredients of Postmodernism:

1. Postmodernism says that nothing can be known by reason. Reason is inadequate.  There is no objective truth.  this concept, of course, dovetails with the popular opinion, held long before the introduction of the term “postmodernism,” namely “You have your truth and I have my truth, and that is all that matters.

2. One logical consequence of postmodernism is the rejection of authority.  Postmodernism believes there is no book, no idea, and no social structure that could command or deserve respect.  If there is no authority which engenders respect, then all styles are equally valid.  No art is better than other art; there is no high culture.  This follows the conviction that there is no measure against which we can evaluate such things.

3.  For Postmodernists there can be no transcendent or binding commandments.  No one has the right to tell another person what to do.  The individual becomes the moral authority.  Again, this resonates with the popular idea that long preceded postmodernism, namely “Who are you to give me instructions for my life?”

4.  A fourth consequence of postmodernism may be practical idolatry.  Though persons no longer have truth to provide meaning, they sometimes hunger what me be called, “Idols of the mind.”  Certain individuals may thus be inclined to believe almost anything, no matter how irrational it might appear.  In fact, some may not even ask the question, “Is it reasonable?”  If people have no objective values to direct their lives, they often demand idols for their wills.  People usually live for something, whether it be achieving respect, making money, or being successful; and it may control their lives.

 

These four aspects explain a lot of the problems in the western world and especially America today.  Since there is no objective truth and no sense of authority the culture begins to unravel.   Things that were once considered perverse and immoral have become the norm.  In California, a recent law passed that allows students to use what ever gender bathroom, changing room, and shower they decide that they want to use.  In past decades, this would have been deemed unthinkable but in a world where there is no such thing as truth, anything goes.  The abandonment of truth leads to the abandonment of authority.  This rears its head as the president and congress increasingly overstep their constitutional bounds or in the case of illegal immigration they refuse to do their duty to execute the laws of the land.

Postmodernism eventually leads the way for the prosperity gospel to thrive.  As reason and authority are thrown out the window, the pseudo-spiritual preaching of the prosperity gospel can thrive as an “idol of the mind.”  Joyce Meyers can talk about receiving direct revelation from God that supersedes the bible and people will not bat an eye.   Joel Osteen can be wishy-washy about Jesus as the only way to God on a national news program because people do not want an exclusive truth claim.  It is why people who do not even listen or follow the prosperity gospel get upset when it is criticized.   Postmodernism is the Zeitgeist of America.

It then becomes imperative on Christians to find a way to stand for truth in a world that hates truth.  In world similar to the book of Judges in which is was said of the people that they did what was right in their own eyes, it is imperative that Christians stand firm in the truth and only seek to do what is right in the eyes of God.   Dr. Barrs gave a lecture on evangelism in a postmodern world.  In conclusion, I will post his lecture here.    May God give us eyes to see the truth and courage to stand for it.

 

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