Obviously, some of our philosophers have been lying to us for a couple of centuries. They told us that Modernism with its Secular Humanism was the answer to all our problems. These doctrines had no room for the Bible or for God. Modernism taught us that the only reality was what our senses could perceive. The whole supernatural realm was thus referred to as “superstition.” Modernism saw humans as autonomous material machines that would progress to a bright and glorious future through science and reason alone.* Now humankind could be certain to enjoy “Better things for better living… through chemistry,” as the famous DuPont slogan had it.
At the beginning of the twentieth century all looked rosy enough, but that was before two gruesome world wars; the rise and collapse of international Communism; the rise and fall of numerous other isms; and the advent of international terrorism. It was before the threat of nuclear annihilation and the world-wide spread of AIDS. All these things have destroyed, sickened or enslaved hundreds of millions or else they still rise as a haunting specter for the future.
Somewhere about the middle of the twentieth century these confident philosophers began to rethink some of their conclusions. Soon thereafter they abandoned their god of Modernism and at the same time they began a hard-sell on their new idea of Postmodernism. Of course, the philosophers didn’t admit to making any mistakes nor did they apologize to anyone. It was like they were saying quietly, “Oops, we goofed about Modernism…but now maybe we can get them to swallow our new concept of Postmodernism?” The big question is, will we Christians follow along blindly with them for another two-hundred years as we did in the case of Modernism?
So our philosophers now tell us that we are living in the postmodern era. The theories have changed somewhat as the philosophers have tinkered with them. While Modernism saw humans as material machines, Postmodernism now sees humans simply as cogs or nodes in a social machine. Rather than being autonomous, we are now told that humans are a product of their culture. While Modernism greatly depended upon “reason” for its progress, Postmodernism now declares that all reason is deeply flawed and affected by bias. Thus all information, even hallowed scientific information, can no longer be trusted.* Perhaps the most shocking thing about Postmodernism is that it denies the possibility of any objective truth. All truth is thus relative and can easily change.
We may have thought that Modernism was a dismal doctrine but now we are faced with one more dismal still, leaving its adherents with a deep sense of skepticism, cynicism, pessimism and even downright depression. People have done all the things the philosophers said they should be able to do but the advice of the philosophers simply didn’t work. Now we are left with plagues of AIDS and HIV, drugs, suicide, etc. Lives and families are falling apart. Even nations are falling apart as they have accepted the advice of the philosophers. People need help! They need a foundation to build upon.
A few people in our new postmodern world are now longing to escape from all this madness and return to the pre-modern world where there was truth and stability and where civilizations and families were built upon lasting values. Let us think about some of these lasting values that are pre-modern and pre-postmodern. These are the values that remain uncorrupted by the philosophers.
THE BIBLE AS THE ETERNAL WORD OF GOD
Despite what many say, there really is a God out there and he is really speaking to us. The particular Hebrew phrase Va-yo-mer A-do-nai, or “The Lord said,” is found 210 times in the Old Testament. It is certainly not the only expression signifying that God is communicating with us but it is a very common one. Other arrangements of these same words appear hundreds of times in the Old Testament alone. We do not have an idol that we are serving but a God who speaks. He has left us with a record of his word, the
We need to return to the word of God and realize that it is the only foundation of reconstruction for our modern and postmodern mess. Obviously modernism and postmodernism have no foundation whatever. The Christian theologian and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer, once said of modernism, “They have both feet planted firmly in mid air.”** According to James White’s assessment of the postmodern movement, it is a removal of all foundations. ** What modern and postmodern people desperately need is a foundation for life – something to build upon.
Such a foundation is readily available in the word of God. This is not some word that a philosopher dreamed up but it is a work containing 66 books from some forty different authors, written over a period of more than a thousand years and with all its authors agreeing together. It is actually the word of God given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit over that whole time period. The Bible is ancient and it has accounts of men and women who walked with God and who learned his eternal truths in centuries and millennia past. Its truths have been tried in the fire of personal experiences. They are found to be certain and sure. Psalm 12:6 describes the Bible in this manner: “It is tried in the fire like pure gold that is purified seven times.”
The Bible offers us all the rules and insight for getting along with God and with people. It gives us almost 4000 years of workable solutions that are from the mouth of God and that are all tested and tried in human experience. It offers us a firm foundation for our own lives and for the establishment of nations. The Bible assures us that: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov.9:10).
It is becoming more and more obvious that the Bible’s assessment of human nature is an absolutely correct one. Secular philosophers have tried to tell us that man is essentially good. But after watching the rise of Nazism, Communism and several other isms and the resulting loss and wreckage of hundreds of millions of lives over the twentieth century, it is obvious that this assessment can no longer stand up. Man is essentially evil because the Bible says he is evil. It is all related in the story of the fall recorded in Genesis. God minces no words on this subject by saying: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Even the framers of the American constitution realized the essential depravity of humanity and built many checks and balances into the constitution to help corral the evil desires of humankind.
Yes, the Bible is our foundation for reconstruction today. As Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, [possibly a reference to philosophers] but the word of our God stands forever.”
JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS UNCHANGING
We live in a world of change. Obviously the opinions of our philosophers change with every wind. Our world and universe themselves are changing. They are passing away just as the Bible says they would (1 Jo. 2:17). But when they have all passed away there will be one left who is unchanging (Heb. 1:11-12). His name is Jesus and the Bible testifies of him saying: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He will not pass away and neither will his word pass away (Mt. 24:35).
In Jesus Christ we see that we not only have a God who speaks but a God who is intimately concerned with each of us. He is a God who came down to live upon this planet and to share our burden, our grief and our suffering. He came to earth and lived as a human being for some 33 years. During that time he committed no sins but lived as a perfect example of both God and man. Nevertheless he was condemned and crucified as an evildoer. Yet death could not hold him. He arose from the dead and appeared to his own disciples as well as to hundreds of others. He then ascended to heaven to sit on the Father’s right hand. By his death and resurrection he gained salvation for all of us who believe. The Bible teaches the certain truth that Jesus will come again to claim this world as his own, to receive his people unto himself and to judge the living and the dead.
SALVATION IN JESUS, WHICH WILL LAST FOREVER
The Bible offers us a sure foundation for our personal salvation in Jesus. The Lord has gained for us this eternal salvation as Hebrews 5:9 states: “he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” This salvation is not a passing fancy but will last forever as Hebrews 7:25 states: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
John 3:16 sums up God’s eternal salvation with these well-known words: “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.” This great salvation is available for moderns, postmoderns and all who will humble themselves and call upon the Lord. We have his sure promise that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
Publication date, 2006
*Dennis McCallum, The Death of Truth, (Minneapolis, MN, Bethany House Publishers,
1996), pp. 21-22.
** As quoted and stated in , David S. Dockery, ed., The Challenge of Postmodernism, (Grand Rapids,MI, Baker Book House, 1995) pp. 328 & 359.