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Mohler: In the test of worldviews, Christianity superior to postmodernism

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Imagine a postmodern pilot, or a postmodern banker, R. Albert Mohler Jr. says.

The pilot refuses to believe in gravity, while the banker stubbornly asserts that two plus two actually equals five.

Even the most devoted postmodernist, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president says, would not trust such a person. And that, Mohler says, is one reason why postmodernism — a worldview that rejects the reality of absolute truth — is absurd.

“No one can live that way,” Mohler said on the nationally syndicated radio program “Issues Etc.” hosted by Tim Wilkens and originating at KFUO in St. Louis. “They can’t live that out consistently, and that’s one of the tests of a worldview. That’s why Christianity is superior. Christianity can be lived out consistently and any failure is our failure to be faithful — not a failure in the truth structure itself.”

In discussing a host of issues relating to the culture’s rejection of absolute truth, Mohler noted that the term “absolute truth” is redundant.

“It’s either true or not, and if it’s true it’s absolutely true,” he said.

Postmodernists generally believe that truth varies from person to person. Such a belief is often reflected in the phrase, “what’s right for you may not be right for me.” Another staple of postmodernism is a firm belief in pluralism — the belief that all religions are equal.

Postmodernism, Mohler said, must be rejected by the Christian church. As an example of a postmodern worldview, he compared Christianity with Buddhism.

“Buddha and Christ — if you put their teachings alongside each other — are not only not the same, they’re almost precisely the opposite at every turn,” he said. “Who’s right? The postmodernist says, ‘No one’s right. Christianity is a socially constructed reality that was put together by Christians for their reasons. Buddhism is a socially constructive reality put together by Buddhists for their reasons. There is no truth.’

“If you buy into postmodernism, all you can say is that this is meaningful for me.”

A postmodern approach to Christianity, Mohler added, is not biblical Christianity.

“Christianity does not claim to be merely meaningful,” he said. “It claims to be true. It claims that Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross at a specific moment in space and time and died there as our penal substitute in our place, and [that] he was raised by the power of God on the third day.

“If those things are not true, [the apostle] Paul says in 1 Corinthians, then we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. The postmodern gospel is no gospel.”

Many Americans — including some Christians — have unknowingly adopted postmodern beliefs, Mohler said.

“There are too many Christians,” he said, “who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ … who are really thinking according to the patterns of the world and not according to the pattern of biblical truth. …

“Christians are just as prone as anyone else in the world to start thinking that way if we do not have biblical defenses in place.”

Mohler said postmodernism has affected the English vocabulary, including changing the meaning of the word “tolerant.” In the old definition, he said, toleration meant that people recognized each other’s right to hold differing and sometimes opposing beliefs. They could peacefully debate an issue, disagree over every single point, but still be viewed as tolerant. The old definition, Mohler said, should be embraced.

In the new definition, he said, no one has the right to declare that another person’s beliefs are wrong. In this definition, every belief is right.

“Tolerant is one of those words that has almost been destroyed in terms of its usefulness,” he said. “It meant one thing in an historical perspective that it doesn’t mean anymore.”

Mohler and Wilkens discussed ecumenical movements and inter-religious gatherings, in which people of different religions fellowship and often pray together. Mohler said such gatherings go against the message of the gospel.

“We do not go to present Christianity as one more page in the catalogue of options,” he said. “We go having said, as Paul did in Acts 17 to the Athenians, ‘You ought not to think of God this way.’

“The political and politeness pressure on us is to reduce theology to etiquette and to let etiquette rule by modern standards. We just can’t do that. We may be considered standoffish and horribly judgmental, but I think that’s a part of the scandal of the gospel we have to bear in this generation.”

The Oct. 31 taping is archived on the Internet at http://kfuo.org/Issues_Main_page.htm.

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  • Michael Foust