The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World
(by Voddie Baucham)
(Voddie Baucham is dean of the seminary at African Christian University and previously served as Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX. He has authored numerous books, academic journals, and magazine articles. He is married to Bridget and they have nine children. They currently live in Lusaka, Zambia.)
This message appears as a chapter in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.
Friends…this will be a 9 Part series. Here we go…Part 2….. Please, please, take the time to work through this series. dh
The Question of God
Christian theism answers the question of God by positing a necessary, intelligent, all-powerful being. Postmodern secular humanism, on the other hand, is fundamentally and functionally atheistic. Man is the starting point in this convoluted worldview. That is rather ironic, because while secular humanism is the overriding worldview of most of the people in our culture, the overwhelming majority of Americans report to pollsters that they believe in God.
The Question of Man
Christian theism answers the question of the nature of man by seeing man as a special creation made in the very image of God (compare with Genesis 1:26–28; 9:6). In contrast, postmodern secular humanism sees man as a single-celled organism run amuck — a glorified ape who has lost most of his hair and gained opposable thumbs, a cosmic accident with no real rhyme or reason.
The Questions of Truth and Knowledge
Christian theism views truth as absolute. If something is “true,” that is, if it corresponds to God’s perspective, then it is true for all people in all places at all times. However, postmodern secular humanism views truth differently. The previous generation of humanism — what we may call classic secular humanism — viewed truth through the epistemological (theory of knowledge) lens of naturalistic materialism (the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world)”. It was inherently atheistic, as nothing could be known apart from this closed system called “nature.” If nature is a closed system, then by definition there is no such thing as the supernatural. Such thinking is the functional atheism to which I referred above. The majority of Americans claim to believe in God, while espousing an epistemology that rejects the possibility of such a being. If nature is a closed system, then the God in whom one believes cannot possibly be the God of the Bible.
Despite the fact that postmoderns reject naturalistic materialism in favor of philosophical pluralism (theory that reality is composed of a plurality of entities) and experientialism (the philosophical theory that experience is the source of knowledge), the end result is the same. Both worldviews reject the absolute, objective truth of God’s Word and, in the case of postmodernism, objective truth in general. Classic secular humanism rejects truth in favor of matter; the postmodern version rejects truth in favor of experience.
Now if you believe in this sort of naturalistic materialism, how can you presume to refer to yourself as a Christian or anything like a Christian? Why say that you have a belief in God when, from an epistemological perspective, you have excluded even the possibility of God? Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, in his book A New Christianity for a New World, does just that, openly arguing from the perspective of naturalistic materialism (John Shelby Spong, A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born [HarperSanFrancisco, 2002]).
He argues that what we need to do is move toward a non-theistic view of God. Spong claims that humans have evolved into the current theistic perspective, and we need to continue to evolve towards a nontheistic view of God. Here is a man who spent thirty years in pastoral ministry and was a lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, saying things such as: I do not believe that Jesus entered this world by the miracle of a virgin birth or that virgin births occur anywhere except in mythology. I do not believe that a literal star guided literal wise men to bring Jesus gifts or that literal angels sang to hillside shepherds to announce his birth. I do not believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem or that he fled into Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. I regard these as legends that later became historicized as the tradition grew and developed and as people sought to understand the meaning and the power of the Christ-life. (Ibid., 4)
That’s what happens when you cloak yourself in priestly robes but hold on to this kind of secular human epistemology that views nature as a closed system and man as nothing more than an evolved beast. (Part 3, Con’t tomorrow 😊)