WHEN IS A FOREST NOT A
What happens when words start to become
What happens when we can no longer count
on words as true expressions of the intent or understanding of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!