As much as we agree, I periodically find myself in these debates with Andrew Sandlin. The occasion for this one is that he has taken issue with a recent post of mine on seeping postmodernism. Just a few comments now, which I may follow up on later.
The first thing is that Andrew simply assumes that if I attack postmodern epistemology, I must be doing so as a foundationalist. But I don’t remember ever saying anything like that, and do remember saying quite a bit to the contrary. I don’t think that we can take a series of indubitable legos and stack them up into a worldview. What we need around here is a Trinitarian epistemology, one that is not beholden to the arrogance of Descartes, and that is equally not beholden to the arrogance of the postmodernists. And just in passing, at bottom, it is always the same arrogance. Postmodernism is just modernism’s ugly little brother in drag. Modernism says that God cannot have spoken, “because I have spoken to the contrary.” Postmodernism says that God cannot have spoken, because “nobody speaks really, when you think about it.” The key thing they share (and which the Bible calls unbelief) is wrapped up in that phrase “God cannot have spoken.”
Andrew concludes his post by noting that I resent postmodernism because it “imposes limitations on [my] dramatic epistemic self-confidence.” He then says that “epistemic humility” leads a godly “woman and man not to question Jesus and the Bible, but to question each’s own private, frail, finite, sinful interpretations.”
He is quite right that I want a sure word from God. I want firm traction in a slippery place. I want light in the darkness. Let the one who speaks, St. Peter says, speak as the very oracle of God. We are living in perilous times, and we cannot afford to be without God’s clear direction for us — clear direction for us in worship, in bringing up our children faithfully, in holding to what the Bible says about qualifications in pastors and elders, in transforming culture all the way down to the ground, and learning the difference between good rock and roll and bad rock and roll. No neutrality, and take no prisoners. I don’t believe it is epistemic arrogance to listen when God speaks.
A man who leads with his own “private, frail, finite, sinful interpretations” will find out soon enough that this is a univsersal corrosive, and he will soon find it impossible not to question “Jesus and the Bible.”