Episode 14: Exposing Errors in Postmodern Thinking

Peace to Live By Episode 14: Exposing Errors in Postmodern Thinking - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       I trust everyone is doing well today.

       I want you to imagine today that we are at a theme park. Here in Ohio, if you've ever been to Cedar Point, you know that there are a variety of different kinds of rides you can take to your heart's content. Some are childish, and then some more mild. Then there are the medium ones―the ones that are a little scarey but not really. Then there are the rides that are more scarey. Cedar Point themselves calls these rides the “Aggressive Thrill” rides. Within these are the ultimate ones―like the Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, and Wicked Twister, for example. Today, I am going to focus on a topic that is a bit of a big issue, an aggressive thrill (as Cedar Point likes to call it). So, buckle in and let's get going.

       What I want to talk about today is a thought-pattern, a belief system, here in America, that has run rampant over the last fifteen years or so. This Postmodern belief is that all people's beliefs are equally valid, that in fact what everyone believes for him or herself to be true is equally true across the board. Today, I want to confront this error head on and explain that all beliefs are not equally valid or true. This discussion can be particularly hard for many as this Postmodern thought-process has been so ingrained into the minds of individuals that they are sure they are right. But will little analyzation, I think it will become clear quickly the error behind this type of thinking.

       Before we get started, though, I want us, as Christians, to consider what God says in Ephesians 5:11-17:

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (ESV)

Let's us keep this passage in mind as we discuss the error in postmodern thinking today.

       First, let me note that, as Christians, we shouldn’t expect people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ to act in the ways that God says are right. You can’t expect unregenerate people to accept the same belief system as you, even though you are right in the way you think if you align your thoughts with God’s Word. The people of the world can create whatever laws they wish, after all, it is their world. They can define marriage anyway they want to; but that doesn’t mean their definition is based in reality, in truth. Our job, as Christians, is not get unbelieving people to act like Christians. Our job is to tell the truth in hopes that the eyes of some will be opened so they will accept the truth, accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

       Let me take a moment and explain what I mean by “their world.” Isn't this both the world of Christians and unbelievers? Well, it's collectively our world in the sense that we are both residents here on the earth. As Jesus said in the Parable of the Weeds (the Parable by which I was saved by the way), “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:30, ESV). But there is also a sense in which believers do not belong to this world. Again, Jesus noted in his prayer to the Father in the garden in John 17 about his disciples, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (14-16, ESV). So, we are part of this world, but we do not belong to the world.

       Let us first identify what the actual problem is here that I am talking about. Many people in the United States today, especially those of the Millennial generation, have developed a thought-process that equates all people's beliefs, in their own minds, as equally valid. That is, what I believe is good for me and what you believe is good for you. The problem here is that kind of thinking―that way of thinking―is not true a lot of times. There can only be one origin of the universe that really is true. There can be only one religion that really is true, or you can count all religions as false. But multiple religions cannot be equally true. If one religion has a creation story, and so does another, they can't both be right. Now, they can both be wrong, but they can't both be right.

       And I think this brings up an important point, and that is a lot of people believe that religion really is just a belief system to make people feel good―or for people to lean on. I think as time progresses more and more people are adopting the idea that all religion is make-believe, that none of them really are true. These people typically adopt a naturalistic view of our world, a view that believes that everything just came about naturally. But a problem lies herein when one wants to look at the beginning of all things. That is, how did all of these natural things begin? It is unscientific to believe that something came out of nothing, but that is what you have to believe even under a naturalistic perspective. So, these people, whether they know it or not, believe in the supernatural (in the true essence of the word). They believe in miracles.

       Let's take a moment and think about naturalism. If a naturalistic perspective is correct, then why, person, do you care about other people? If everything is natural, then people have no inherent or indelible value. The strongest person should be the best, right? It's survival of the fittest. Then that means you shouldn't care about others, you shouldn't care about other's emotions, needs, etc. If it's survival of the fittest, then you need to gain more power so you can squash those around you and get what they have, obtain their things, their possessions, and power they might have. But such a notion is ridiculous.

       But all views, in reality, are not equally valid or true, and are not equally important. Many people can't see this reality because they are so steeped inside their environment, their culture, their society, here in the United States. They are victims of their surroundings. They can't see the forest for the trees. They can't understand God's perspective, nor do they try to. All they see is the people and environment around them. But even these people are not true to themselves in what they believe. Why is their opinion more important than someone else, if there is no God? If all beliefs are equally important, then why do these people shun religious views? Why do they particularly shun Christians? Under a postmodern mindset, Christians should get fair value for what they believe and fair treatment. But most often, they don't.

       There is absolute truth by the way. Many want to cling to the notion that one cannot understand what is really true, or that all perspectives are indeed true. But such notions defy logic itself. If you want an example of absolute truth, let's look at a skyscraper for example. If a person steps off the skyscraper, gravity will have its effect. The person will fall toward the ground because, here on the earth, gravity is an absolute truth. Let's say a person stepped off the skyscraper truly believing he or she would not fall. Well, it wouldn't matter what the person believed, he or she would fall. But this idea of there being no absolute truth really isn't even a new age idea. Remember the conversation between Jesus and Pilate in John 18? It is recorded: “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world―to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”” (John 18:37-38ex, ESV). So Pilate, 2,000 years ago, didn't even believe truth could be known. But the Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that truth can indeed be known, and that what he says is the Truth, and that those who are of the truth are the ones who listen to what he says―that is, believers.

       But many want to look to places like Hollywood to understand how we are to live our lives, as people. People will go into a movie theater, sit there two hours and be indoctrinated into what the culture believes is right. Not that going to movies is bad, just be careful what movie you are going to see. Many movies subtly promote doctrines that are destructive to people’s lives. Watching people committing fornication or adultery on the screen is almost commonplace, and typically these characters face no consequences. But that’s not reality. Bad choices do have negative consequences. These types of behaviors can and do damage people’s lives. Committing adultery can ruin your marriage, and having sexual relations outside of marriage can give you permanent diseases and permanent emotional damage. But film depictions often leave out these important facts. The filmmakers aren’t telling people the truth.

       There are some people who like to sit, as if it were, in neutrality to all beliefs. That is, they want to consider all sides, and do it in an unbiased way. But this again is foolishness. It starts with the underlying assumption, again, that all people's perspectives are equally valid and important. But they're not. The only view that is really true is one that keeps God in perspective. Any other view, absent of God, is not of God, and therefore is not equally valid or important. Not to mention it is impossible to be unbiased. Such a pursuit is true foolishness. To these people I would say, the way you think has been molded, most often, by the society and culture around you. You may be able to become of a lesser bias than most, but you are still biased in some way. All people are biased. For instance, you may focus on the affairs of humans, and think about these things. But why? Who said that the affairs you’re focusing on are important? Well, the environment you are in has made you believe these things are important. See the foolishness?

       Now some people want to say that the things that are important are the things the majority of people say are important. They want to base their beliefs on what the majority thinks. For one, that's good news if you believe this way because then you certainly believe that Christianity is the correct way then. After all, Christianity is the most dominant world religion, and therefore, must be the correct view under this type of thinking. But anyway, setting that aside, true beliefs shouldn't be developed based on what the majority thinks. Number one, the majority can be wrong. Number two, here again we are using human opinions to derive truth. To say that the majority is right undercuts the minority. But, both may be wrong. Only whoever agrees with God is right.

       Let's look at what God says about himself. Isaiah 45:5-6. It says:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (ESV)

So, the God of Judaism and Christianity says there is no other God besides him. Hmm. Now, that's a problem if a person wants to believe that all religions in the world are equally true. The God of the Christian Bible says he is the only true God. So, either he's a lair, or he's right. You see, all religions of the world cannot be equally true. Either one is true, and the rest false, or all are false, and none of them are correct. If Jesus Christ says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” then either he is correct in what he is saying, or indeed he is a liar (John 14:6ex, ESV). So, how can Islam be right, and Christianity be right then? The reality is, they can't both be right. There is no possible peace between them. They stand in contradiction to each other. Philosophically speaking, they can both be wrong, but they can't both be right.

       I want people to understand today that if they want to be true with themselves, they have to consider these things that I am talking about. Trying to unbiased, trying to believe that everyone is okay in what he or she thinks, trying to be neutral, isn't living in reality. People can try to believe both sides have equally valid points, but they don't. In a lot of the world's arguments today, often times I think both sides don't have any valid points. But God, Jesus Christ, is the one who is always right. The New Testament notes, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12ex, ESV).  And again, of God it is also noted that: “In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16-17, ESV). So, God in the past let people create their own religions and follow them. He let the ancient Chinese follow their own religion. He let Native Americans create their own religious systems. He let people go their own ways. Yet, God did not leave himself without testimony.

       What about tolerance? Many, again, cling to the notion that everyone has 'rights,' and what they believe is equally important. But not all rights are really 'rights.' The only rights that really exist and are permissible are those outlined by God in the Bible. Consider what God says to Christians in Ephesians 5:5-10:

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (ESV)

You see, it doesn't matter what rights people may think that they have in American society because if they don't line up with God's Word, they really don't have the right. There are no 'gay' rights, for instance. People can practice homosexuality, but they are just committing acts that are contrary to God's Word. 1 Corinthians 6:9, among other passages, clearly states God does not approve of homosexual acts. And no one is born 'gay.' God doesn't create humans with the inability to not sin against him (to not accept Jesus). Just as no one is born 'adulterous,' no one is born 'gay.' You don't hear anyone going around committing adultery and saying that, “Ah, I was just born this way. I can't help it. I have the right to be adulterous.” Just because American society may make people think they have these rights under its system of laws, they really don't have the rights, in reality. It doesn't matter what some judge may decide, if it's against God, people really don't have the rights. You can try to call it by a different name, but sin against God is sin.

       So, what are Christians to do as they find themselves in this type of world. Are we to go out into the country far away and find a piece of land, buy it, and build a village so that we can live out our lives believing in reality (some people, unfortunately, are hoping that we do). Consider what the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 5:

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people―not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler―not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” (5:9-13, ESV)

So, as Christians, we are supposed to live among those in the world who do not believe. If we didn't, how else would people hear the message of the Gospel, for instance? How would more people be saved?

       But the passage I just read brings up an important point. And this point is that there are many in the Christian church today, or who think they are part of the Christian church, who have forsaken a correct way of thinking according to the Bible, a correct way of living. These are the people, and the churches as a whole, who subscribe to the notion of things like “gay is ok” inside the church. Or, who don't practice church discipline necessary in order to purge the evil person from among themselves (ESV). These are false brothers and sisters, those who call themselves Christians, who use the Christian name, but who really aren't Christians. They are those who say they are Christian, but who contradict the very pages of Scripture they claim to ascribe to. And the leaders of churches who do this are called false teachers. They are the ones who lead the sheep astray within the church; they are the wolves among the sheep.

       There is no room in the 'real' church of God for those who want to allow sin inside the church. God says that we, as Christians, are supposed to identify these individuals within our group, and then to subsequently purge them from our midst. And this is where the downfall of a church begins. Churches often don't identify these people and purge them from their midst. These people move up the ladder of a church, they get on the inside, into the inner workings of the church, and then they start to promote their own doctrine, their own beliefs. The high-ups around them won’t do anything about it because they are worried about their own jobs, they don't want to lose their own careers. They are in a comfort zone. They care more about their own comfort and well-being than standing for the Word of God. They don't want to put themselves on the line, and they don't want to put their wives and children on the line.

       So these false brothers end up staying where they are in the high-ups, and then they recruit others to join them. They get their friends jobs, and move other like-minded individuals into important positions. Before you know it, you have a church that is headed toward apostasy, and the church starts forsaking some of its foundational truths. More and more false brothers come in until there are more of them than there are left the good people. The good brothers and sisters become a minority, and then all goes to hell in a hand-basket. The church is lost. It becomes totally false. Satan has won this battle.

       But this kind of downfall can be prevented. It is when sound-minded individuals, those who are willing to stand up for the truth, actually do stand for it and stand firm in the truth. These are the people who are not willing to compromise based on the latest fad, the latest ‘cool’ trend that is hitting the culture. These are the pastors who take a stand for what is right, and stand firm. These are the churches God will bless. Sure, there will be persecution, but God is with them. So, it’s ok. Jesus noted in the Sermon on the Mount:

““Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12, ESV)

Those people who stand for the truth will face persecution in some way, shape, or form. Unbelievers will speak out against them. But true churches, true leaders, true teachers are not left alone, not left to fare for themselves. 

       You see, false teachers, the Bible doesn’t change with the times. The Bible is not subject to change. Many want to change God’s Word to match the culture of their time, and they do this through reinterpretation. But if you’re going to do that, if you’re going to interpret the Bible to suit your fancy, why not just rewrite it? Why don’t just change what it says? But you would never to that; that’s too bold and hard. You just reinterpret it. Or, you ignore passages of Scripture that you don’t like, the ones you don’t agree with. Instead of taking a highlighter to important passages, you take a sharpie. You black out the passages you don’t like, the ones you don’t want to talk about. You end up with a different gospel altogether, which is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul has some harsh words for you:

“As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:9-10, ESV)

Are the true teachers of the Word trying to please themselves, or do it for some personal gain or merit? Come on, that doesn’t make any sense. If you wanted to earn the world’s favor, why would you preach Christ crucified? That’s foolishness to the world (see 1 Corinthians 1:23). Why not talk about other things, other topics, that are appealing to the world’s wisdom? No, indeed, true preachers of the Word do not do it for their personal gain, but because they care about the people of the world, just as God does (see John 3:16). They care about people and want them to be saved from God’s wrath to come in the future.

       In finishing today, perhaps friend you have been listening to this discussion, and perhaps you believe that these things are true. Maybe you have believed that Jesus Christ must really be God, and that his way is the right way, the real way, the only way. If that’s you today, then I am here to tell you that there is Good News for you. You can come to know Jesus, you can be made right with God, you can have no fear of your eternal future after you die. Since everyone will die at one point or another (unless you are raptured), then it is important to know where you are going. It is important to know you are right with God. 

       If you will accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you can be made right God today. You see, Jesus came to the earth some 2,000 years ago, died on a cross, and rose from the dead. He died on the cross because he was taking your place. God’s righteousness requires a perfect sacrifice for sins. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people would sacrifice animals. But they weren’t able to take away people’s sins. They only covered them. Jesus’ righteousness can be imputed to you. You can take his righteousness upon yourself, and therefore not be guilty of any of your sins in this life. That’s why he came the first time to the earth, that’s why he died. And he rose from the dead, triumphing over Satan and sin altogether.

       If you would like to accept Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I have sinned my whole life. I am guilty of not following your will, but doing the things I have wanted to do. I accept Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for my sins, and I believe he rose from the dead triumphant. I surrender myself over to you. Please, Father, change my life and make me like Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton