Al Mohler is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.
We live in a hinge point of society of what is known and familiar. Postmodern needs defining even before we can begin thinking and speaking intelligently about it.
1 Deconstruction of Truth. Can truth be known? Christians are to align our lives with TRUTH – but that is foreign to postmodernists. For them, truth is made, not found. It is socially constructed. Disguised claims of power. Liberation comes from the deconstruction of these truth claims. Radical relativism is a challenge to the gospel.
2. Death of the meta-narrative. Doesn’t this come up at every dinner table conversation. Oppression comes from the meta-narrative: Marxism, Christianity, progress, technology, modern science. Here’s “my” truth.
3. Demise of the text. Derrida – death of the author. It doesn’t matter what the author meant, it is what I think the text means. How many evangelical Bible studies are in this sense. “What does it mean to you?”. How many of our Bible studies in our churches (conservative churches) are this way. Who cares what the text means to you – it depends on what the author meant. But, are we taking a stand against this in our churches? Most of the time, no. We don’t want to “oppress” the people in our churches. We want to be “seeker friendly” to the outside world, to be postmodernists to a postmodernist society.
4. Dominion of the therapeutic. What makes me feel good?
5. Decline of authority. The author of the text is robbed it HIS authority as well (if the text is robbed). Archie Bunker (the theologian of both Ravi and Al) – “why do all you non-conformists dress alike?” Is there a “right kind” of authority? They will not accept authority who defines anything that is contrary to what they believe.
6. Displacement of Morality. See number 5.
Good news – you won’t find it in most 15 year-olds, only in academia
Bad news – it is trickling down throughout the entire society
absolute reign of theory – cinema, architecture (AT&T building in Manhattan 1986, (that is the picture atop the entry),a Chippendale crown sits atop”That is absolutely phenomenal!”, Seattle Public Library, education, art (first labeled, Picasso), entertainment, theatre (no point?) Brokeback Mountain directors point was to “subvert”, pictures in the Updated New Soviet Encyclopedia, transgression, music (atonality) – it is characterized by randomness, literature (novel has been transformed, playing with language)
Subvertion is the theme – nothing else, no point except to claim that there are no points.
Our brand new slogan – “subverting subversion to the glory of God”
Fastest growing in academia – sex and gender studies. It is a major area of oppression – what sex you are. Academia seeks to deconstruct this worldview. Once you transgress – there are boundaries.
Students – how does it affect them?
Most popular publication is sex magazines. Trangress all boundaries.
Law – infected legal studies “critical legal theory” – subvert all to a theory. US Constitution is a text for discussion and compromise. “You can’t take back a right” We must be interested in how they think even if they are not interested in how we think. How are we to engage this culture – is the emerging church the answer? Do they take it too far? What about churches like Vintage 21 in Raleigh or people like Joel Osteen who won’t say Jesus is the ONLY WAY on national television – he doesn’t want to oppress the people or their rights.
Business – it is more about marketing in our consumer society. The appetite in our post-modern age is the creation of needs (needs that weren’t needs before). All kids need iPods and cell phones.
We must understand postmodernism in the academy – not in its trickle down form.
Rationality, order, and absolute truths are welcome when you are 33k feet in the air, or banking, or building a building from the ground up.
Let’s tell the truth to the glory of God.