One of the things that postmodernism sort of introduced in our culture is the idea that your truth is yours and mine is mine. This was sort of the battle cry of tolerance that was taught in early 2000’s (which now seems like a really long time ago). The idea at the time seemed to be that I’m ok and you’re ok. We’re all ok as we are. What we feel is ok. What we see as true is ok. We should tolerate differences not only of experience but we now could say that our different perspectives and experiences were actually different truths that were ok to live out of. Back then it was ok for everyone to not agree. In fact the idea was that no one should impose their belief or truth on anyone else.
Many in the church sort of went along with this. I don’t mean to say that most church leaders agreed that truth was relative. But I think the idea was that to get along and work in this new culture we should just sort of let that go and be loving and understanding. This idea of loving and understanding everyone isn’t a bad thing as far as it goes but by not standing up stronger we gave a lot of things that aren’t true a lot of ground. The results are that now even more believers are of the belief that there is no absolute truth and that half of millennial evangelicals think evangelization is wrong. After all that would be forcing our truth on others.
All of this has backfired spectacularly both inside and outside of the church in our culture.
There are lots of reasons why this was a bad idea. Postmodernism is not just a current culture. It’s wrong as a philosophy.
First of all while everyone does have a different perspective of the truth, not all those perspectives are equally right. In fact I’d argue most are wrong.
You may have heard the analogy of a group of blind people describing an elephant. Different blind people touch different parts of the elephant. One person touching the tail says this is a skinny rope like thing. Someone else touches the trunk and says it is a long thick thing. Someone else touches the body and says this is a huge rock like thing. And so on. The postmodern thought says all of these people are right. But here’s the thing. The person who can see says not that each person is right but that all the blind people are wrong. The problem is they are blind. The postmodern person says the elephant is all of those different things individually to each person. That’s wrong though. The elephant is a whole elephant. They don’t have the truth.
What I mean by this is that there is actual absolute truth. And that truth is the elephant in the room, even if no one wants to see it.
The second problem is that this idea bled over into moral truth. The idea was that what is moral for one person is not for another. But that is not true either and we know it. We know it because there are always things that most everyone knows are wrong. Everyone has a line somewhere. The easy one is child abuse. That’s bad. At least so far. Every culture forever has had things that were universally wrong.
This leads to the third problem. That is that when we decide something is true, we tend to want everyone else to agree with it. What the postmodern people said in the late 90’s and early 2000’s was that everyone got their own truth and we would all be better if there was not absolute truth. In other words we could just respect each other’s truths so to speak. But that was destined to fail. This is because if I believe something is true, especially about me, and you don’t agree with that, I see you as opposed to my truth. And so all of the individual truths come into conflict. And without absolute truth to sort of referee we get . . . well we get where we are now.
So what do we do as Christians in this situation? How do we navigate this? To even start to deal with that we will need another post.