Ten Theses on Postmodernism

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This post originally ran May 10, 2010.

1. Truth is objective, ultimate, absolute, personal, alive, and triune.

2. Because of this ultimate reality, it is possible for creatures who were fashioned by this living God to know Him as the personal and ultimate truth, as well as to know lesser truths in the created world that we see all around us. We know Him apart from that world, and we know Him through and in that world. We know. Some of us only wish we didn’t.

3. Objective truth does not mean uninterpreted truth. Objectivity in our knowledge of truth means that our interpretation lines up with God’s interpretation of it. Thinking God’s thoughts after Him is not the same thing as guessing or having opinions. The standard of absolute knowledge is how God knows a thing. The standard of creaturely knowledge is how we know a thing, measured against what God ordained as possible for a creature in our circumstances to know.

4. The fact that truth is objective does not mean that it is constructed out of rough cut two by fours. Those two-inch deep dogmatists, ostensible defenders of the faith, who think that objectivity stands or falls with their pat answers are a big part of our problem. They only provide the pomos with a conservative group to feel superior to, and to have a reasonable point in feeling that way.

5. Truth is more complicated than an eight-foot-long stud wall, with the studs on sixteen inch centers. But it is also more organized than a sticky, undifferentiated mass. We do not have to choose between simplistic and unyielding, and complex and incoherent. How about complex and unyielding?

6. When the pomos taught us that all truth claims were disguised power grabs, they were telling us more about their purposes than they were actually intending to. So Christians who believe the press releases put out by the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE) really need to get out more.

7. On a related front, the pomo rot has gotten to the realm of science, producing something called “post-normal science,” and you can see the results in phrases like “global warming,” “sustainability,” and every other form of statist hoohah and tyrannical cant. Christians who go for this stuff, unwittingly or not, are just carrying bricks for Pharaoh. Doesn’t matter if they have John 3:16 stenciled on the side of their hod.

8. When modernity announced that the modern age was built by their guys, the secularists, the Christians who believed them were way too easily duped. There should have been less gullibility around here and more checking. Secularism did not fill the houses with good things, did not dig the wells, and did not create great and goodly cities (Dt. 6:10-11). The law required us to give the glory to God for these good things. Instead we have now fallen for the pomo lie that they are not actually good things. The modernist says that “my power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth” (Dt. 8:17). The pomo says, “Yeah, well, to say that you can actually get water out of your wells is logocentric, imperialistic, self-serving, and totalizing.” And the consistent Christian just thanks Jesus for all the stuff.

9. The inconsistent Christians writes articles for academic journals explaining how it turns out that the Scriptures, rightly understood, were all along saying just when the latest breeze from off the Zeitgeist Bay would seem to indicate they ought to have been saying. Currently, since the breezes are south by southeast, this actually means saying that the Scriptures can’t be rightly understood, but we can try to fix that later. When you are in the mood for some respectability, and that old familiar ache settles in your evangelical throat, don’t let the fundamentalists get in the way. They think the truth is made out of two by fours anyway, and they will be happy to provide you with any additional cover you might need as you slink out of the faith to accept a post at Calvin College.

10. Jesus is Lord, and not just in our hearts. The only consistent Christian answer to all the contemporary pushing and shoving is some form of resurgent Christendom. We can debate the details later.

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Nathan James
Nathan James
4 years ago

#6 Regarding truth claims being power grabs, there is a kernel of truth in this, and not just that the truth claims we make to one another may be power grabs. Truth really does determine where the power is and ought to lie. Wilson reaches the climax of this later at point #10. Namely, if Christ truly is Lord, then that tells us where authority resides and who is subordinate to whom. In rejecting objective truth as a category, the postmodernist claims the power to make and unmake truth, arbitrarily. This is (or would be, if it existed) the power… Read more »