Good Old Justus

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In one sense, postmodernism is far worse than a particular heresy, because at least the old heretics made truth claims. The kind of universal corrosive that postmodernism brings with it affects everything, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It rots out lies as well as the truth; but since a lie is a perverse tribute to the truth, it is hardly a great accomplishment if you destroy counterfeits through destroying anything valuable to be counterfeited. Nobody counterfeits brown Safeway shopping bags.

Anyhow, for the sake of simplicity let us call postmodernism a heresy of a peculiar kind. It does not follow from this that everyone who is inappropriately lured, enticed, or seduced by postmodernism is therefore lost and damned. We persist in treating questions like this as though we are dealing with a simple logic problem. “All ducks are aquatic fowl. Fido here is a duck. Therefore, Fido is an aquatic fowl.” This is quite proper to do when you are teaching junior high students the rudiments of logic.

But here is how it looks in the messy world of people and their beliefs. “Postmodernism is heresy. Henry calls himself a postmodernist. Therefore . . .” There is a problem here. The boundaries of a belief system are not as carefully marked as the boundaries of three-sided figures in Euclid. And Henry is not really a postmodernist; he is just trying to impress his English professor, or the cute blonde next to him, or both. No doubt this is a sin too, but not necessarily one that damns his soul.

Put it this way. I have absolutely no doubt that Machen was exactly right in his Christianity and Liberalism that the two belief systems in the title represented two completely different worldviews and/or religions. He was right, dead on. Liberalism was and remains heresy.

At the same time, I am equally convinced that there were individuals in the “liberal” party who loved Jesus Christ and when they died the same angels that escorted Lazarus to heaven came down for them. And that there were members of the orthodox contingent who were damned and lost souls. And the thing they had in common was that what happened to them, happened in spite of the abstract tenets of their creed. Liberals who are saved are saved in spite of their liberalism. Salvation is by grace, not by works. Pharisees who are damned are damned in spite of the fact that what they said from Moses’ seat that was technically correct.

This is not say that the content of what you say and teach is irrelevant. The more error goes out, the more people are mixed up in it, and damned by it. The more truth goes out, the more the Holy Spirit works through it. There is a connection between the faithful proclamation of the truth (as such) and the salvation of souls. This is why we preach the gospel. But to make connection to a party the fundamental litmus test is the height of absurdity. I am not just spinning this out of my own wee brain. The Bible talks about this.

Consider: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:2-3). “And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me” (Col. 4:11).

Good old Justus, that dog, that evil worker, that comfort unto Paul.

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