17 March 2009

A Global World: Postmodern

There are people today that will say they are followers of Christ but will not call themselves Christians. That seems strange since the word "Christian" means by definition follower of Christ. However, words do not have meaning in themselves. A culture gives words meaning (like using "google" as a verb). A dictionary assigns words to concepts according to the culture. The purpose of words is to communicate. So the issue here is not the basic meaning of a word, like "Christian"; rather, it is an issue of the concept communicated when that word is used.

We must consider that when someone hears the name "Christian" it may be synonymous in their mind to "arrogant westerner". My vocabulary may work in my little world, but it doesn't in a global world.

Colossians 4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

I do not see the internet as an open door for the gospel; I see it as mansion of a million doors ready to open. And when God opens one, the great challenge is to make the message clear. (Is your use of Facebook "the best use of the time"? It can be if you are wise.) I may venture to say that someone who can clearly communicate over the internet, anticipating how a reader will receive the words, has a gift of tongues.

Now, what about postmodernism? According to Al Mohler, "According to postmodern theory, truth is not universal, is not objective or absolute, and cannot be determined by a commonly accepted method. Instead, postmodernists argue that truth is socially constructed, plural, and inaccessible to universal reason." So while I have acknowledged that words are socially constructed, postmodernism takes it a step further and argues that even the meaning behind the words is socially constructed. That is, truth is relative; truth is what you want it to be.

I have a concept of something in my mind. I wish to establish that same concept in your mind. I am trying to do so with these words. This is basic communication. But to a postmodern reader, even if my words are 100% effective, the concept received by that reader can be whatever he wants it to be. He doesn't need to try to find the objective meaning to my words, since he has decided there is no objective meaning.

See the problem here? The obvious question becomes: What's the point of communication? This is where I'll start next time when I put the nail in the coffin on postmodern relativism.

Not only does the global world bring a challenge to communication from the subjective, relative nature of words, but we also have to deal with the global world's postmodern belief in subjective, relative truth. Clearly that doesn't bode well for attempting to communicate objective, absolute truth about God. So what happens in the global postmodern world to the Bible?

15 March 2009

Things We Ought to Know #5: Ignoring a Call

Today I witnessed someone pull a cell phone from his pocket, decide to ignore the call, and proceed to put it back in said pocket without stopping the vibration.

I had a professor once receive a call during class. The ringer was audible. He took out the cell phone, decided to keep teaching, and put it back...with the ringer still audible.

We really ought to know this. When a cell phone rings and/or vibrates and you wish to ignore it, there is a button on it that will make it stop ringing and/or vibrating. Most phones it doesn't matter the button -- just push any button and it will stop. Easy.

12 March 2009

A Global World: The Noise

The world has gone global. Ironical, isn't it?

What I mean is, instead of isolation between peoples on the opposite sides of the world there is now direct connection. It was not so just twenty years ago. Now it's truly a world-wide web.

Remember that political stance of isolationism, when the U.S. tried to just stay out of the world's problems? Some say we need to return to that policy. But I say it's just not feasible in a global world.

Hear all the terrible things in the news lately? It would seem things just keep getting worse and worse, right? Well, remember that we didn't always get world news at the press of a button. Perhaps the world has always been this ill. A global world just made it more evident.

How else does a global world change things? The main idea I want to get at is communication. The internet connects people around the world because of the ease of communication. It's all about communication.

So that you stay with me here, I'm going to give you the point of this discussion up front: It is about God. It is about our understanding of God; or in a word, theology. Our objective understanding of God comes from the Bible. The Bible is words. The purpose of words is to communicate concepts. Our conception of God is communicated to us by God through His Word. Got it?

Now, what's this have to do with our global world? How does that change anything?

The problem with the global world's ease of communication is that we think communication is easy. We think we are communicating, when in fact we may only be exchanging words. The concepts the words are intended to convey may not be getting received. Two people on opposite sides of the world, shaped by completely different cultures, can meet in their living rooms. Millions of people are doing this. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Blogspot. Blogs, blogs, blogs! Words, words, words! Are we really communicating? Or is it just noise? Can people separated by such great physical distances and cultural backgrounds really have mutual understanding on the meaning of every word?

Add to this mix postmodernism. What do you get?

We'll pick this up again later. For now, I hope you and I are successfully communicating.

02 March 2009

Skipping To the End

From the very end of a certain fiction book:

And tales and rumours arose along the shores of the sea concerning mariners and men forlorn upon the water who, by some fate or grace or favour of the Valar, had entered in upon the Straight Way and seen the face of the world sink below them, and so had come to the lamplit quays of Avallone, or verily to the last beaches on the margin of Aman, and there had looked upon the White Mountain, dreadful and beautiful, before they died.

Makes perfect sense to you, right? Maybe the previous hundreds of pages from that book would help.

So it is when attempting to understand Revelation without knowing the rest of the Book.