A Look at Postmodernism—Part 8

In my rebuttal to postmodern thought yesterday, I mentioned that the problems I see in this philosophy stem from forgetting who we (humans) are, who God is, and what the Bible is.

Today I’ll tackle who we are.

Interestingly, the portion I read from How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith (Crystal L. Downing, IVP, 2006) deals with identity.

People are not identical to their sense of self, for every human is inevitably molded by culture … Where, then, does sin come from? I was taught to answer “From the human heart,” and I still believe this. But the Bible repeatedly implies that the heart is influenced by external forces … If we look back to the story of sin’s origin in Genesis, we see that it comes from outside the self … Consonant with the poststructuralist sense that language shapes human behavior, a serpent’s words, not its actions, direct performances of Eve and Adam.
– p. 212

Where do I start?

1. Society does not mold me. Society—the “world” as the Bible refers to it—tempts me, but it is not responsible for my sinful attitudes, actions, words. That I go along with the pull of society, good or bad, reflects who I am, not the power of society.

2. Sin did not originate in the garden with Adam and Eve. Satan had already succumbed.

3. The Bible DOES NOT imply that the heart is influenced by external forces, at least not in the sense that those external forces leave me no choice but to sin. The truth is, my sinful nature leaves me no choice but to sin. When Christ changes that, I am free from sin and its consequences.

Look at Joseph, who certainly had the most compelling reason to go along with the pressures of the society in which he found himself. Betrayed and abandoned by his brothers, in a land away from home, cornered by a woman of power, who wanted him, a handsome seventeen year old. Instead of yielding to the external forces, he found the fortitude (“How could I do this great evil and sin against God?”) to say no to her.

What about Daniel? Or Stephen? What about Abraham? Rahab? Or Abigail? I could go on and on with people who stood against the prevailing winds of society, some even standing alone and dying because of it.

In other words, the outside forces did not create a sinful heart in those people. Why? Because sin comes from within and is something God must deal with. Which brings me to the next point.

3. Neither the serpent’s actions or his words directed performances of Eve and Adam. First, only Eve was deceived by the serpent’s words. And still, she chose to believe him rather than to believe God. It was her clear choice—believe the truth or believe a lie.

Adam may not have been (probably was not?) present when the serpent was talking to Eve. She, after eating, gave him the fruit. My guess is, he knew full well that the serpent was lying. (After all, when he talked to God later, he didn’t blame the serpent; he blamed “the woman that You gave me”). His choice was based on what? Perhaps a lack of faith—Eve messed up and God couldn’t fix it. Or maybe a sense of not wanting to be left behind. She would know what he would not. Can’t say for sure, but Adam’s motives were not shaped by the serpent. Again, he made a choice knowing—here’s what God wanted him to do, here’s what Eve wanted him to do.

Downing’s argument for these events in the garden supporting the power of language to shape ignores completely the fact that God was the one Adam and Eve walked with and talked with in the garden. What about the power of His language?

In conclusion, we are not the victims (though postmodernists don’t evidently use that word, this is the picture they would paint) of cultural forces.

Instead, we are creatures molded by God’s own hand; made in His image; with His breath, brought to life. And we are fallen. Condemned by our own rebellious hearts to alienation from the One who made us for connectedness with Himself. We are at the mercy of our merciless sin nature.

Except for Christ. He made a way of escape because He is God—someone else the postmodernist doesn’t seem to understand.

Published in: on September 14, 2006 at 2:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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