“Postmodernism” is a worldview. Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/) defines “worldview” as:
The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
Everyone has a worldview. A “worldview” is often used synonymously with “philosophy” or “belief system.” It is what reality is perceived to be. Because the prevailing “worldview” forms the basis of the way life is ordered and conducted in a society, an individual frequently accepts that worldview without examination. That is, it is assumed to be true without critical consideration of the validity of its postulates. One worldview in vogue in the western world today is called “postmodernism.” This Bible study guide will lead you to critically examine “postmodernism” from biblical principles.
(It is recommended that before beginning that you first study the guide entitled “The Authority of the Bible” – volume 1.
What is the “postmodern” worldview? The trunk of the tree of postmodernism is the proposition that “truth” is not absolute (or if it is, it can’t be known). That is, “truth” does not transcend cultures or eras. “Truth” is what an individual or group (such as community, culture, society, club, nation) makes it. Consequently, what is “true” for one person may not be for another. As the nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in The Will to Power, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” Anyone claiming to know “the truth” is trying to control others; he is seeking power over other people. Postmodernism has led to multiculturalism (the belief that no culture is better than another) and to “cafeteria religion.” (“Cafeteria religion” means that a person’s religion is composed of beliefs selected from different religions. For example, a person may believe in reincarnation, genuflect before a crucifix, read the Koran, and dance to honor the Great Spirit, all the while not being bothered by the fact those religions, from which those varying practices originate, conflict with one another.)
1. Why is tolerance such an important value to postmodernists?
2. Can you give an example of a “cafeteria religion” held by someone you know?
3. Explain the inherent contradiction in the statement, “There is no absolute truth.”
4. Other than multiculturalism and “cafeteria religion,” what other beliefs might come from a postmodern worldview?
What is truth?
JOHN 18:38 – “Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’”
1. At what other time in history does the Bible indicate that people doubted one could know “truth”?
2. Why do you suppose people doubt a person can know the truth?
JOHN 17:17 – “….Your word is truth.”
3. What did Jesus say is truth? Was Jesus quoting scripture? Read Psalms 119:160 Psalms 119:160Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of your righteous judgments endures for ever.
American King James Version×and answer.
4. Where does one find God’s word? Consider 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×.
PSALM 119:151 – “You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.”
5. What else composes truth?
JOHN 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life….’”
6. What did Jesus mean by saying He was “the truth”?
Nature of Truth
MATTHEW 11:2-5 – “ ‘And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.’”
1. How was John to learn the truth about who Jesus was?
Comment: Truth corresponds to reality and reality consists of all there is—seen and unseen. Since there is more to the universe than just individual people, truth must correspond to what exists outside of a person’s own body, his own brain, his own thoughts, his own feelings. Hence when Jesus answers John’s question, He tells John to look for the truth by looking at the evidence, to look at what was occurring in reality.
2. Why did Jesus mention those particular acts? Why should those acts convince John that Jesus was truly the Christ (Messiah)?
PSALM 100:5 – “…His truth endures to all generations.”
PSALM 117:2 – “…the truth of the LORD endures forever ….”
3. Postmodernism claims truth is relative, that it doesn’t exist through the ages. What does the Bible say about the accuracy of that claim?
Comment: Mankind does “look through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12 1 Corinthians 13:12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
American King James Version×KJV) at some matters, so mankind’s knowledge may not be total, with the result that we may not see reality with complete clarity on some matters. This is certainly true with scientific investigations. However, postmodernism extends this view of truth to the realm of morals and ethics. God is eternal and has created all that exists; therefore, His definition of truth is everlasting. Since God has inspired the Bible, we can know some things that are absolutely true.
PROVERBS 14:12 (16:25) - “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
JEREMIAH 10:23 – “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”
DEUTERONOMY 30:15-20 – “ ‘See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish…. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers … to give them.’”
4. Does the Bible agree with postmodernism concerning man’s ability to know the truth about how to live? What about the belief that what is true for one person may not be for another?
5. What is likely to happen when one discounts revealed truth in the Bible?
DEUTERONOMY 4:5-8 – “ ‘Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them…. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? ””
6. Postmodernism says that truth is relative to each culture. Does the above scripture agree with that assessment? Why or why not?
DEUTERONOMY 12:29-32 – “ ‘When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.’”
1. Postmodernism sees every culture as morally equivalent, and that one should not judge the culture of other peoples. Is God happy with every culture?
COMMENT: A postmodern believer, in order to be consistent, would have to accept child sacrifice as a legitimate activity.
PSALM 19:7 – “…The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple”
ISAIAH 8:20 – “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
2. What does God say about the reliability of His inspired Word? Is it the wisest basis for determining behavior?
3. How should you regard activities in any culture that conflict with God’s law?
1. Can one worship the true God in any fashion, with any ceremony and have it accepted by God? How do you know?
JOHN 4:23-24 – “ ‘But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’”
2. What is the only acceptable way to worship God?
ACTS 4:12 – “Neither is there salvation in any other [than Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
3. How many religions teach that Jesus is the only way to salvation?
4. A common belief is that all religions worship the same God. Is that true? How do you know?
1. What expressions have you heard that you think fit with the postmodern worldview?
2. What is “truth”? Does it transcend cultures and time? How does it relate to the outside world?
3. How must we worship God?