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?

No comments: