WHEN IS A FOREST NOT A FOREST?

What happens when words start to become meaningless......





What happens when we can no longer count on words as true expressions of the intent or understanding of the speaker?

It has undoubtedly escaped the notice of many, but during the last few years the worldview of Modernism (which taught that mankind was in the process of progress and development and that we could count on science to safely guide us along the road), has all but disappeared! Little by little we have slipped into the era of Post-modernism. This new worldview challenges many of the assumptions of Modernism, for instance, Postmodernism would say that we can no longer count on science to be a generally benevolent influence, because it has actually been wrong far too many times, indeed, it has caused actual harm far too many times (one may think of those scientists who have developed bombs or who have illegally and cruelly experimented in laboratories and death camps).

This new worldview is somewhat less anti-religious than Modernism was. Modernism said that if we cannot measure or quantify something in a laboratory, it is probably meaningless.
But Postmodernism recognises the short-sightedness of such an approach! Really, Modernism had its roots in the 'Enlightenment' (which itself had roots in the 'Renaissance'), and it upheld what might be called, 'Faith in Mankind' in reaction to an earlier age which taught 'Faith in God'.

But Postmodernism says, 'Who can tell what we should have faith in? And what is 'faith' anyway??'
I have written elsewhere about the fact that as Postmodernism becomes stronger in its grip, Christians will gain increasing opportunities to witness for Christ.
For the confidence in the progress of mankind and in its ability to find a 'scientific' answer to all human dilemmas, is now increasingly disappearing. It is pivotal to the new worldview that we should all understand that we can have confidence in...... absolutely nothing - least of all in our ability to actually understand people or their world.

Yes, this is ultimately very depressing, yet - without question - it provides an opportunity for the Christian gospel!

But it is not all good news, for this view also strongly questions the meaningfulness of something which we all have to use every day of our lives: WORDS!

Under the new influence, universities are beginning to turn out students who believe that the written word is pretty meaningless, its all a matter of the interpretation of the reader!

It is now being said, for instance, that if you read a play or a novel, it is what the words mean to you - living right now in the 21st century - which are all-important. Whatever meaning the writer originally intended is pretty much irrelevant - I think we should all be able to see certain dangers here straightaway!

I have heard the claim that ex-President Clinton's use of words in defending himself over the Lewinsky affair were pure Postmodernism in action. The new view sees words as being just about completely unreliable except as expressions of the moment, and it is perfectly reasonable for any or all to interpret them in their own way.
I have heard exactly the same claim with regard to the UK Labour Government's 'spin doctors' - it is all a matter of the interpretation put on any government statements.
Statements should not necessarily be taken 'as read' but are quite legitimately open to 'spin'.

But words do matter! We must reject the relativism which teaches that words and language are just about meaningless as expressions of ultimate truth and should be freely open to individual interpretation.
When the commandment says, "You shall not bear false witness", that refers to misrepresentations of the truth. When we use words, we should surely use them as expressions of what we genuinely believe to be the truth. It would be a very sad development indeed if everybody started to use words, not as expressions of truth, but purely as 'spin' which we would then expect others to interpret in a way which is, “meaningful for them.”

Unfortunately, just as too many Christians became seriously influenced and compromised by the deeply flawed worldview of Modernism (which was quintessentially anti-supernaturalist and yet had an abiding religious-type faith in mankind's ability to solve all problems), I have little doubt that some Christians are going to be overly-affected by Postmodernism.
Surely it does not require too much imagination to think of the havoc this would bring to the study of the Bible, in fact it is already happening: increasingly, the sects and cults are being seen as perfectly reasonable in providing 'alternative expositions' of God's Word.


Indeed, I have already heard the opinion expressed that the new multi-culturalism and religious pluralism now being strongly promoted by the media and by influential leaders in modern Britain and America, is "practical postmodernism" - Why?
Because it assumes that nobody has right to make exclusivist claims about society or religion, therefore all expressions of truth are equally valid!! It all becomes a matter of individual interpretation, with no clear or definite right or wrong! Suddenly “truth” is being thought of as old-fashioned and distinctly judgmental.



PLEASE LET ALL OF US WHO CALL OURSELVES BY THE NAME OF CHRIST BE VIGILANT; LET US RECOGNISE THAT WHILE POSTMODERNISM IS NOT NECESSARILY ANTI-RELIGIOUS (AS MODERNISM WAS), IT WILL INCREASINGLY PROMOTE THE VIEW THAT WORDS CANNOT BE TRUSTED ESPECIALLY AS EXPRESSIONS OF RIGHT AND WRONG!

Museltof
2002

UK APOLOGETICS



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