Saturday, September 18, 2010

POSTMODERNISM [just stuck a few posts together on postmodern thinking]

(1245) 2ND KINGS 4:8-37 Elisha travels thru a town called Shunem and a woman decides to prepare a little ‘prophets room’ for him on the city wall. She goes out of her way to assist in Elisha’s ministry. So he wants to return the kind deed and he asks what he could do for her. He finds out that she has had no kids and prophesies that she will have a child. She disbelieves the word but sure enough she has the child. One day when the boy is in the field with his dad he gets sick and dies. The woman lays his body in Elisha’s room and heads out to meet him. He comes back with her and raises the child from the dead. Elisha has already multiplied the oil supernaturally [well God did it] and here he raises the dead. He truly is doing the miraculous signs of a prophet among them. I am still reading Brian McLaren’s book ‘everything must change’ and I like the way Brian shows us how the ministry of Jesus was a challenge to unjust power and human government. He actually uses the example from Pontius Pilate, when Jesus was asked ‘are you the king of the Jews’ and Jesus says yes, he came to testify of the truth. Pilate says ‘what is truth’ and McLaren uses this to illustrate that unjust power structures see truth as this ‘wishy washy’ type thing. I find it funny that Brian accuses Pilate of being a ‘postmodern, relativist’ McLaren himself espouses postmodernism! In the prophetic ministry of Jesus the father gave him the tools he needed to accomplish the mission, in the gospel of John we read ‘many other miracles did Jesus do that are not written in this book, but these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you would have life thru his name’. Jesus shook up the systems of his day; he knew the prophecies concerning him that were found in the Old Testament. One of them said ‘Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising’ when Pilate asked Jesus ‘are you this king or not’ Jesus replied ‘did someone tell you this about me, or did you come up with this idea on your own’. Jesus knew that the Father had promised him that he would impact nations, that kings and rulers would hear his ‘narrative’ and be changed. He fulfilled the 3 years of earthly ministry; he raised the dead, opened blind eyes, fed the masses. Now his time has come to take the cup and drink it. Much is on his mind, at the moment of truth Pilate asks him if he is really who he said he was. Jesus says ‘I can’t lie, for this reason was I born. I am taking this thing to the end, I am going to finish the course that God has set before me’. Pilate was simply a ‘first fruit’ of Roman rulers that would hear about the story of Jesus. After his death and resurrection many kings and aristocrats would come to the Christian religion. Within a few short centuries the whole empire would succumb to a form of Christianity under the Emperor Constantine. Truly Gentiles have come to his light and kings to the brightness of his ‘rising’, before you can rise, you must die. Jesus drank the cup and finished the course, the Father kept his promise.

(1127) let’s see, I wanted to do Nehemiah, talk a little about the recent abortion debate, and also discuss modern philosophy! Let’s see what we can do. In Nehemiah the workers are scattered all along the wall, they are responsible for their section. Nehemiah tells them that because they are so far apart, they need the ability to be able to hear the warning from the main overseer of the work [namely him!] so he has this trumpet guy next to him, if danger shows up he will blow the trumpet and they will be forewarned, hey in a day without electronic communication, this is a good idea! Recently [5-09] there have been some debates over the abortion issue and some high profile cases as well. Just 2 days ago one of the most notorious abortion doctors in our country was shot down in cold blood, his name was George Tiller. His abortion clinic was only one out of three places in the U.S. that performed late term abortions. This is the procedure where you insert a forceps into the womb, pull apart the legs and arms of the baby. Then you position the forceps over the head and squeeze till the brains come out [I know this is graphic, if you want to learn more about it, go to the Priests for life icon on my blog roll]. While we in no way shape or form condone the murder of doctor Tiller, it should be noted that he took part in the most wicked act that can ever take place, the murder of unborn children. Now in this debate some Christians [Catholics] have brought up the recent speech by president Obama at Notre Dame, some boycotted the speech. The problem was that Notre Dame actually honored the president with an honorary law degree. It is one thing to allow both voices to be heard, quite another to honor the most anti life president in the history of the untied states! He has made more pro death decisions than any other president in history. The U.S. Catholic Bishops had passed a resolution a few years back that stated no Catholic institution should give honorary degrees to those who are in violation of the churches teaching on major issues, obviously Notre Dame violated this rule. Now, some Catholic media persons were defending Obama, they even criticized their own church for hypocrisy! They were saying that honoring Obama was no different than honoring any other leader who might be pro capital punishment. These Catholic media persons were equating the churches stand on abortion with her stand on capital punishment; these two are not in the same league! The Catholic church teaches a sort of hierarchy of offenses [as a boy I still remember being taught mortal and venial sins] the church sees abortion as an intrinsically evil act, the outright murder of innocent defenseless persons. The church also teaches against the death penalty, but the execution of a criminal is not to be equated with the murder of unborn innocent children [some 4 thousand per day!] so these Catholic believers were wrong on the stance of their own church. Today’s ‘post-modern’ philosophy will argue that truth and morals are relative [subjective] they see truth thru the lens of ‘that might be wrong for you, but not for me’ or ‘I personally am against abortion, but I don’t want to push my views on others’. In the world of postmodern thinking, this is considered acceptable. This view of right and wrong is based on the view that there really is no objective truth, that is truth does not correspond to any outside reality. Truth, in their view, is simply the way various cultures perceive and understand things at different times in human history, but it’s possible for other societies to interpret the data coming into their senses and arrive at another view of truth, and who am I to say that ‘my truth is real and yours is false’. Obviously in the field of theology this would be [and is!] disastrous. Paul himself would say ‘if Christ be not risen [a real fact!] then we are of all men the most miserable’. The biblical worldview of truth is objective; truth is something that corresponds to something else that is real. This does not always mean material, but real never the less. For instance mathematical equations are real truth, or feelings of love are real, but not material. This would be the foundation for saying ‘the murder of babies is wrong, always has been, always will be’ whether my view is contrary to your view is meaningless, the act itself is wrong! Your view of that oak tree might be different than mine, but if you run into it with your car, the only view that counts is what reality is. It really was a tree that was there, it was not simply my perception of ‘a tree’ my perception corresponded with reality and the truth was that the tree really was a tree, whether you like it or not! The modern philosophers would say ‘the only real question left for philosophy to answer is the viability of suicide’ [either Sartre or Camus said this] When philosophy severs itself from true moral reason and foundational ethics, it has no leg to stand on. When society can accept that murder might be wrong for you, but not for me, then the basic fabric of civilization is no more. Well I think I covered all three of the things I set out to do at the start, hope it helped.

(626)EMERGENT STUFF. Let me explain ‘Emergent’ a little. Some of you guys have no idea what this is, in a nutshell that’s one of the ‘problems’. Not so much that all Christians need to know about this movement, but the movement has a tendency to be a little ‘ivory tower’ isolationist. A lot of theologizing among intellectuals while by passing the ‘nuts and bolts’ stuff. Grant it, they intend to do this on purpose to some degree, but I think they are getting a little too experimental for me. Now, when I first read on this movement I liked the trend towards simple church, the challenging of the ‘way we do church’. There are a whole bunch of radicals like me who see church as a real lived out thing as opposed to ‘going to the church house’ [UGHH!]. It was this part of ‘being Emergent’ that I liked. As I have read a bunch of stuff these last few months I have come to see the war raging in the blogasphere between the ‘Anti Emergent’ and Pro Emergent groups. As you read all the comments I have made you will see there are obvious times where I had to openly disagree with some of the trends. While I believe homosexuality is a lifestyle that scripture sees as sinful, I also do not believe we should discriminate against gays. I also see the point of being open and discussing the ‘pro gay’ side of whether or not gays should be ordained. I think if you are open and honest about it, you would see that they frankly shouldn’t be serving in positions of leadership in the church. We should recognize and not stigmatize people who struggle with this lifestyle. We should help those who struggle with this lifestyle. Those who have a radical agenda to promote it, well I think Christians should disagree and have the freedom to disagree! But when it comes down to it, there is enough scripture and church tradition [AND!] that should lead us into a view of what’s right or wrong. Some in the emergent debate seem to have all the characteristics of being open and willing to hear both sides, but then seem to never come to any firm conclusions. Hey, ultimately we do need some answers! That's where the other problem comes in. Some feel we really can’t know the answers! This is where you have the Chuck Colsons and others come out openly and fight the movement. I like Chuck, I have disagreed with him in the past. I kinda see Chuck as embracing the ‘pre evangelism’ philosophy that says ‘until you change society’s worldview, you can’t really present the gospel effectively’. Sort of like because we live in a postmodern culture, so we need to do battle on the field of ideas and establish the fact that there is ‘true truth’ [some have flipped over this statement] before we can present truth. I actually disagree with this. I think Paul nailed it down in Galatians [chapter 4?] when he said ‘after the fullness of times was come [what fullness?] God sent forth his Son’ if you read it carefully, you see the ‘fullness of time’ as describing the whole period of Old Testament law. God gave man an ‘age’ where he instituted, in humanity, a basic philosophical underpinning of right and wrong. This was law. Since Jesus [fullness of times] all mankind [postmodern, pre modern and every other group!] have been ‘victims’ to the power of the presentation of the gospel. It truly is the power of God unto salvation. You might think you need to go to great lengths to convince people of right and wrong and ‘true truth’ but according to Paul, the ‘pre evangelism’ stage is over! Now, there is some merit to Apologetics and dealing with stuff like this, but the point is God went out of his way to redeem man, the early church had a simple way to present the gospel in ‘a nutshell’ and we need to see it as the answer to peoples needs. We can’t get lost in thinking we have tons of ‘pre evangelizing’ to do before we present the truth [the real true truth- I hope you guys know I’m kidding a little here!]. So Colson fights the Emergents over knowable truth and to be honest the Emergents seem to be saying at times that you really can’t have the final answer. I commend their willingness to be open and invite everyone to the table of ideas, but ultimately we have to eventually come to conclusions. Like the guy in the movie ‘Office Space’ and his ‘jump to conclusions mat’. The debate on ‘penal substitution’ [whether or not God was punishing his Son in anger and wrath when Jesus died on the Cross]. Over the years while reading church history and theology, I have come to see how smart scholars have proposed different ‘ideas’ on Redemption. If I remember right C.S. Lewis, in his famous ‘Mere Christianity’ mentions the different ideas on this. I thought he said we know that Jesus death redeems us, but how it happens we don’t know. Hitting on this idea of differing views of Redemption. Some scholars say we really have multiple choices on the ‘theory’. I think scripture makes it plain. I think Penal Substitution is the plain answer. Isaiah 53 says ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise him’. Some say ‘this is an outrageous idea, how can God punish an innocent man for others crimes!’ some very influential scholars say this! Well, the answer is in the great mystery of the incarnation. God became man so he as man [Jesus] could bear the sins of man. In a mystery that is impossible to explain ‘God was just, and the justifier of those who believe’ [Romans]. At least Paul saw the ‘philosophical’ answer to how a just God could punish his own Son. I realize some great scholars have espoused different ideas like ‘God ransomed man back, as opposed to being the kidnapper’ and they show the ransom idea as opposed to the penalty idea. I see these as both true, not conflicting theories. God ransomed man back to himself, not from satan who now ‘owned them’ but Jesus death ‘saved man from God!’ [his own just wrath- as R.C. Sproul puts it]. So ransom and penal substitution go hand in hand. I don’t want to go on here, I just wanted to show you how we can be open to hearing all sides, but there are final truths that we need to know. We should help all people, we should not discriminate against gays any more than the good old bubba who cheats on his wife every now and than. They are both sinful! We need to be merciful to all sinners [after all we are very familiar with this camp!] but also tell them the truth in love. Contrary to Colsons ‘pre evangelism’ they are dieing to hear the gospel right now! Note; Let me explain my theory on why we do not need to do ‘pre evangelism’ to the extent that Colon sees it. When people reject truth, even as a whole society. That ‘rejecting’ in and of itself is actually sin. Thomas Aquinas [the great 13th century Doctor Angelicas of the Catholic church] said it was possible for man to come to the truth of God thru the study of the natural sciences, but it would take a very long time and only a few could attain it. Therefore God gave us revealed truth so we can quickly see the truth of God without going to great lengths to find it. If we live in a post modern society that rejects the basic premise of ‘knowable truth’ than we live in a willfully ignorant world, much like the world that Paul wrote about in Romans chapter 2. Willful ignorance of the truth of God is not some modern plight, it was around in 1st century Rome. Most adherents to the Colson doctrine seem to see post moderns willful ignorance as a different kind of willful ignorance. The kind that the simple preaching of the gospel can’t really undo! A sort of special class of rebels! My belief is the power of the gospel [Romans 1!] has the power to ‘undo’ this willful ignorance in a millisecond! Hey, you would be surprised at how powerful the gospel really is. It, my friend, is what I call TRUE TRUTH!

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