Rebutting Postmodern Thought


Elliot brought up an interesting point for discussion in his comment to yesterday’s post:

I think what Downing may be getting at (just to play devil’s advocate once again) is that different communities do have… traditions, or shared opinions when it comes to interpretation. Catholics read and interpret the Bible together in a way different from evangelicals, not to mention Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc. Lutherans tend to look for grace vs. law or faith vs. works, for instance. What I’ve noticed is that some communities are aware of their tradition and use it consciously, and others aren’t. The JWs claimed not to be using any tradition or opinion, just to be reading the Bible exactly as it was. Which was nonsense. They had their own presuppositions, and an evangelical who sat down to read the Bible with them would interpret it very differently. But both would claim to be reading the Bible straight.

I’m not a big fan of deconstruction, but I think parts of it can be useful in pointing our presuppositions – the lenses we put on when interpreting Scripture.

Certainly we can see how different groups take the Bible and interpret it differently. I think my main disagreement with postmodern thought is that the cause of our incorrect understanding is our sin nature, not language or reason or cultural construction.

Undoubtedly, I may rely on any of those to arrive at my particular error, but the truth is, my heart, just like everyone else’s, is deceitful and desperately wicked. That Christ has given me new life and is conforming me to His image means I see what I once was blinded to, but I still see through a glass darkly. In other words, I will never, on this earth, know completely.

So the first red flag indicating a misuse of Scripture, I think, is someone claiming they know completely. By that, I do not mean we cannot know what God has revealed about Himself—about His nature, His purpose, His work of redemption.

I’m talking about things like “knowing” I’ll be published because Jeremiah 29:11 says God has a plan for my welfare. Or “knowing” that God created the earth in six days when the sun didn’t even exist on the first “day.”

There are tons of little things we’ve come to believe that Scripture doesn’t say. For example that there were three kings who visited Jesus as a newborn baby. These are passed down through tradition and reinforced through culture (Christmas cards, carols). Are they sinful? Not in the sense that they lead us into sinful thoughts or acts. But they are not accurate and teach that accuracy isn’t really important. It’s a subtle undermining of the authority of Scripture in favor of the cultural construct.

The fact is, there were real visitors who came and worshipped the Christ child. With a little study we can infer some things that are more accurate than the traditional picture, but we don’t KNOW the specifics that aren’t told us.

Some groups of Christians take an admonition such as women should dress modestly and make a doctrine out of wearing a certain length of dress or a certain style of clothing. Others relegate the statement to “those times” and disregard it as having significance at all.

I think the problems all stem from forgetting who we are, who God is, and what the Bible is.

Maybe those are the things we need to look at next.

Published in: on September 13, 2006 at 11:35 am  Comments (1)  
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