Sometimes I think I have gone Through the Looking-
Glass with Alice, there are so many today who, like Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, are able to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. A few can handle more than six! It doesn’t matter if there is no basis for the truth of any of those things nor does it seem to matter if there is contradiction between them. The prevailing idea is “whatever works for you”—not, of course, actually meaning whatever really does work, but, rather, there are no problems with whatever you do decide to believe. The only impossible thing to believe is the idea that absolute truth exists. Welcome to the age of postmodernism.
Modernism scoffed at the idea that the supernatural was real, and the church spent much of the twentieth century battling those who wanted to rewrite Christianity into that image. C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer were two of the ablest fighters in both defending and advancing the truth of Christianity. The decline of most large Protestant denominations tells the story of those who lost this war.
Today in the postmodern world, the baby has truly been thrown out with the bathwater. As John MacArthur writes,
Post-modernists have repudiated modernism’s absolute confidence in science as the only pathway to the truth. In fact, post-modernism has completely lost interest in “the truth,” insisting that there is no such thing as absolute, objective, or universal truth.
…Unlike modernism, which was still concerned with whether basic convictions, beliefs, and ideologies are objectively true or false, post-modernism simply denies that any truth can be objectively known.
To the post-modernist, reality is whatever the individual imagines it to be.
The world is not just on sand, but on quicksand.
I became a Christian in 1970 during the last remnants of modernism. At that time on my college campus a defense of Christianity still involved an explanation and demonstration of why it was objectively true. The idea of absolute truth as a reality for everyone was still prevalent. The culture of our society reflected this. My daughter reminded me of a Star Trek episode from the original series, For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, in which Natira challenges the computer that controls her asteroid ship and declares, “Is truth not truth for all?” That five year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise did not take place in a postmodern universe!
Postmodernism was, however, stirring in the awakening interest in Eastern religions. Their syncretistic nature began to eat away at the idea that there was absolute truth to be discovered and proved. The thinking that a person could go “within” himself to find “truth”, to find “god” and to become “one” with the universe began to rise. These religious ideas wedded naturally with the rebellion against authority of any kind that had become rampant in the 1960’s. One’s self became the final authority, hearing again and wanting the lie of Satan to Eve, “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Dr. Al Mohler has written an excellent column: Ministry is Stranger Than it Used to Be: The Challenge of Postmodernism. I urge you to read it, because he describes the thinking of the world in which Christians are called to proclaim the gospel. Your neighbor may not be familiar with the term postmodernism, but your neighbor encounters it daily, even as someone watching Star Trek on television in 1968 would have heard about absolute truth. In The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer wrote:
The Christian is to resist the spirit of the world. But when we say this, we must understand the world-spirit does not always take the same form. So the Christian must resist the spirit of the world in the form it takes in his own generation. If he does not do this he is not resisting the spirit of the world at all. This is especially so for our generation, as the forces at work against us are of such a total nature. It is our generation of Christians more than any other who need to heed these words which are attributed to Martin Luther:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every
portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which
the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.
Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved,
and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and
disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
απολογία (apologia) is a Greek word that means defense. The word in its various forms occurs numerous times in the New Testament (examples in which it is translated as defense include Acts 22:1, 25:16, 26:2 and Philippians 1:7, 1:16). In English we also use the word apologia, which is not a translation, but a transliteration in which our alphabet’s letters are substituted for the Greek letters. Christian apologetics is the defense of Christianity.
In the posts on apologetics I want to give you some thoughts on the importance of apologetics and why you can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be the merest beginning of an introduction to the topic, but the topic is vital because men and women need the gospel.
Alice “a-dressing” the White Queen by John Tenniel: Public Domain, via Wikipedia.
John MacArthur, Grace to You: Mo and PoMo, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, 1968.
In a footnote, Michael D. Marlowe of Bible Research states that the quote attributed to
Martin Luther was actually written by Elizabeth Charles.
Fritz Rienecker, Cleon L. Rogers, Jr. (Translator and Editor), Linguistic Key to the Greek
New Testament, 1980, απολογία, p. 323.