The Sea in the Ship is all Wrong by Pastor John Samson
"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2
There's an old saying: "The ship in the sea is alright. The sea in the ship is all wrong. The Church in the world is alright. The world in the church is all wrong."
Everything you and I believe as Christians flies in the face of our post-modern culture. We believe in a God who has made His existence known to everyone (Romans 1:18-22) despite the strong denials of man. We believe in a God who has communicated to us in clear terms in a book called the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). We believe in absolutes, for we believe in a God who is Truth Himself, and who tells us what is right and what is wrong. We believe in the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16, 17) who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me." John 14:6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the way to God and the only way to God, and we deny that He is merely a way, a truth and a life, and one of the ways to God. Understand that we do not say this because we believe our opinion is greater than someone else's, but because Christ Himself said this about Himself, and we believe His claims are valid, trustworthy and true... We believe too that if Christ is not THE way to God, then He is a liar, and not even one of the ways to God. Jesus Christ is either who He claimed to be, or else He is a fraud, or perhaps a lunatic. But what He could never be is merely one of the ways to God. If we take His words with any seriousness at all, then we have to admit that His own claims deny this very possibility.
The claim of exclusivity is repulsive to the modern world. However, every religion claims exclusivity - even the ones who claim that all religions lead to God. Why? Because even this claim is a claim to be exclusively and absolutely true. The claim is a fundamental denial that there is only one way to God. That is the very definition of exclusivity. It certainly denies the possibility that the exclusive claims of Christ are true.
The claim "there are no absolutes" is also a ridiculous non-sensical statement, for it is an absolute statement in and of itself. It claims that there are absolutely no absolutes but in doing so affirms that there is at least one absolute, namely that there are no absolutes!
Romans 12:2 teaches us that our mandate as Christians is not to allow the world to squeeze us into its mould, but to be different - transformed, even metamorphosized, by renewing our minds to the will of God. To avoid the world's mould, we must first recognize what it is, and see the pitfalls ahead of us. If we do not, we might find ourselves caught up in the thinking of the culture around us without even realizing it. We must understand what the world thinks, how it thinks and how it wants us to think. Then we need to take deliberate steps to walk not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers; but delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. Unlike those who swim with the tide of post-modernity, this type of 21st Century Christian will be "like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." (Psalm 1)
The following is just a part of a very insightful article by Pastor Lars Larson found here on the subject of discernment. I commend it to you.
...we are now experiencing a monumental philosophical shift in all of western society which has greatly affected Christian thinking. We are now living in a time when truth is no longer the primary concern of Christians. If it were, then we would be okay, for we would be pursuing truth and by doing so recognizing and rejecting the error. But truth no longer is the chief concern. Again, this has something to do with society. Sociologists are now convinced that a major societal shift has occurred in the last 20 years. Before, we were in the age of Modernism (generally regarded as covering the period of 1789-1989). It was an age in which truth was sought, by Christian and non Christian, for it was believed by all that truth was obtainable. The evangelical Christian sought truth in the Scriptures; the secular modernist sought truth in his evolutionary view of science. Then the modernist attacked the Christian, he charged that what the Bible taught was not true.
But now it is recognized that we have entered a new era, which has been termed Post-Modernism. The characteristic of this age is that the idea of truth itself is now challenged.
Until the last two decades the Western world thought itself capable of arriving at truth in all arenas through scientific enquiry. We have not thought in postmodern terms. Many of us still consider ourselves to be living in the modern world. Yet that modern world has given way to postmodernity.
Postmodernity describes a dislocating of human condition that is being experienced in these days. We say it is â€˜dislocatingâ€™ because it tends to throw people out of the worldviews they have traditionally held. It is a cultural event happening right now wherever people are educated in and acculturated to Western civilization. . . Postmodernism is a new set of assumptions about reality, which goes far beyond mere relativism. It impacts our literature, our dress, our art, our architecture, our music, our sense of right and wrong, our self-identity, and our theology. Postmodernism tends to view human experience as incoherent, lacking absolutes in the area of absolutes and meaning.
Many postmodernists assume that either no rational structures exist or that we cannot know them. James Sire has characterized five aspects of postmodernism: (1) Things and events do not have intrinsic meaning. There is only continuous interpretation of the world. (2) Continuous examination of the world requires contextual examination; we ourselves are a part of the context. (3) Interpretation depends not on the external text or its author, but on the relative viewpoint and particular values of the interpreter. (4) Language is not neutral, but relative and value-laden. (5) Language conveys ideology.
While modernistsâ€™ attacks on Christianity are loosing their force, postmodernists are attacking Christians on different grounds, based on Sireâ€™s five characteristics. We can see that the agenda has moved from that employed by modernists in this past century. For example, modernists would argue in a number of ways that Christianity is not true. Postmodernists, on the other hand, would critique Christianity by claiming that Christians think they have the only truth. The claims of Christianity are rejected because of the appeal to absolute truth. Absolute truth claims will be dismissed by the postmodernist for being â€œintolerantâ€--trying to force oneâ€™s beliefs onto other people. Postmodernists have genuinely given up on the idea of absolute truth, thus the Church faces new challenges in proclaiming the Gospel to our contemporary world.
As one has said, â€œIn todayâ€™s world people do not mind if you search for the truth, just do not claim that you have found it!â€ The scholars who advocate this new way of viewing things are leading figures in education. Their philosophies shape the goals, organization, and curricula of our schools, colleges, and universities. These scholars claim that they do not impose meaning on texts; rather, they say that words do not have meanings apart from their contexts. We might affirm this statement to a degree, but it is important to know what they mean by â€œcontext.â€ You and I would agree that the meaning of words is shaped as they relate to the other words in their written (or spoken) context. But postmodernists are saying the reader himself is a part of the context. Therefore, it is not what the author intended by the words, but it is how the reader (or hearer) perceives the words which is most important. What they claim is that the meaning does not reside in the words themselves, but in the readerâ€™s inner psychology. It is completely subjective. David Wells described it in this way: â€œthe subjective triumphs completely over the objective.â€ The following exert sets forth how this plays out in interpreting a text:
Take, for example, the sentence â€œThe sergeant looked at her carefully and then smiled warmly.â€ What does this mean? The deconstructionist's (postmodernist) answer is that even in the context of a larger text, it all depends on which internal world of meaning fills out the words. A reader approaching the text as light entertainment might be inclined to view the sergeant's warm smile as simply the first small spark of romantic interest. A feminist critic might be inclined to view the sergeant as making a deliberate calculation -- "looked at her carefully" -- in preparation for launching himself on a course of action that might end with seduction or harassment. A recent graduate of a military school might be inclined to find in the sentence a snapshot of' the human face that the army is keener these days to show, in which control (the careful look) and humanity (the warm smile) are blended. The point is that it is the reader, not the author, who is providing the meaning here. And it should be noted that the significance of this shift in the source of the meaning is not simply that it unleashes pluralism in places where it has not been known so plentifully before but that it aims a blow at the entire Western academic tradition in which it has always been assumed that although all words have ranges of meaning, good authors also know how to limit for the reader what possibilities exist in any given passage. If the only meaning in a text is that which any particular community wants to provide, then what is normative in language, as well as in life, has been destroyed.
My opinion is that this philosophy has resulted in a society that not only has no absolute values whatsoever, but it renders an entire population incapable of reasoning through issues. Even worse, if this trend continues, I believe it will render true communication of ideas between individuals impossible, for it removes any notion that the words you use have meaning in and of themselves. Rational communication will become impossible, because true communication can only be conducted by conveying oneâ€™s own thoughts precisely to another through words. The result will be an interaction characterized by subjective perception only, void of reasoned communication. Discernment, as we have been describing it, will be non-existent. Educational institutions will become completely ineffectual, even detrimental, to the training of our Christian youth.
A society which functions in this realm will not remain free, although the citizens will not recognize that they no longer have freedom. Those persons who know how to present an image in order to elicit a specific response will hold the power which dominates such a society. The image shapers are already in demand, such as the Dick Morrisâ€™ of society, who have a genius for this kind of thing, but who are void of morals and character. People will be (already are) herded as cattle yet completely unaware they are being manipulated.