Guest: Laura Ingraham, nationally-syndicated radio talk show host
President Barack Obama gave a nationally-televised speech to a joint session of Congress this past Wednesday night laying out his vision for health care reform.
In the middle of the speech, House member Joe Wilson of South Carolina yelled out, “Lie!” when President Obama claimed his government-run plan would not cover illegal immigrants. The next morning, Representative Wilson apologized for his outburst.
Was apologizing the right thing to do, though, when the truth is Read more
Guest: John MacArthur, author, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore
“What would Jesus do?” That is the question Christians ask on any pressing issue of our day. The answer almost always given portrays a meek and mild Jesus, a lovey-dovey Jesus, and above all, a non-confrontational Jesus.
But is that a full representation of who Jesus Christ really was and is? Read more
We Are At The Most Dangerous Moment Of The Islamic Revolution: National Town Hall Meeting Set For Tonight
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
Eight years ago today, we lost 2,974 Americans and foreign nationals living in the U.S. (not counting the 19 hijackers) because we were blindsided by Radical Islam.
Will we be blindsided again? Read more
Postmodernism comes in all kinds of shapes and expressions. This sort of variety can make it difficult to understand. Further, postmodernism resists categories and distinctions, and this makes it more difficult to nail down as a worldview. There is a larger intellectual history that must be understood in order to grasp the uniqueness and significance of postmodernism as a worldview.
Ideas Have Histories: How We Lost Our Minds…
While dividing history into distinct time periods is not an exact science, there are two major historical transitions that can help us clarify the emergence of postmodernism: (1) the transition towards modernism, typically dated around the 1700s and (2) the transition away from modernism which began in the late 20th century.
The transition from what is often called the pre-modern period into the modern period corresponds with the influence of Enlightenment thinking and the scientific revolution. Prior to the Enlightenment, there was a dominant cultural belief in the existence of the supernatural. This was due in large part to the rise of Christianity and specifically the Roman Catholic church as the most powerful cultural presence in medieval times. This was a world of authority, and authority rested in the hands of traditional institutions, especially the church, since it was entrusted with interpreting and communicating this truth to the common person.
With a belief in God came a strong belief in the concept of revelation, that God not only existed but had revealed Himself and His will in the Bible. This revelation was considered the primary source of truth, and could be trusted to unlock God’s metanarrative (or, “Big Story”) for the world. Believing was the starting point of real knowledge. St. Anselm, typifies a pre-modern perspective on truth: “For I seek not to understand in order that I may believe; but I believe in order that I may understand, for I believe for this reason: that unless I believe, I cannot understand.” This view of revelation and authority did not fare well during the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment was a movement among European intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the decades leading up to this time, the church’s authority had been successfully challenged politically (reactions against corruption), theologically (Luther, Calvin and the Protestant Reformation), philosophically (downfall of scholasticism), and scientifically (Galileo, Copernicus, and Baconian method). There was a growing disillusionment with the traditional educational, political and religious institutions, as well as their authoritative sources.
During the Enlightenment, authority shifted from traditional institutions to human reason. A scientific approach to the world yielded tremendous advances in medicine, technology, and communications and challenged the centrality of theology and religious belief as the paradigm for learning. Free from the restrictive shackles of traditional beliefs (thus, modernism), progress seemed inevitable. Immanuel Kant described this period of time in this way: “Sapere aude! ‘Have the courage to make use of your own mind!’ is thus the slogan of the Enlightenment.” 
The modern period had begun. The growing skepticism in regards to anything supernatural was matched by growing faith in human ability to know the world, control it, and reap the inevitable benefits. The “Big Story” of the world was not given by revelation; rather, it was to be discovered and perhaps even determined by science, reason and technology. This major transition was at the heart of the modern period.
However, from our 21st century perspective, it is clear that the predictions of utopia guaranteed in the modern period never materialized. Instead, modernists became disillusioned as military increase brought world wars; failed development policies led to class oppression and colonialism; economic idealism resulted in communism and the Cold War; and our best science created nuclear weapons and the threat of global devastation.
Postmodern writers, beginning with Nietzsche, began to question the integrity of modernism’s metanarrative of progress. In fact, the main casualty of a postmodern perspective is the very idea of a metanarrative. Postmoderns are skeptical of any and all claims to an authoritative comprehensive worldview, absolute truth about reality, and an overarching purpose to the human story. Postmoderns embrace local narratives, not metanarratives; a multitude of stories, not a “Big Story.”
In short, it could be said that religious metanarratives were dismissed by modernism. Man-made ones are dismissed by postmodernism. This is what Myron Penner and others have referred to as “the postmodern turn:” postmodernism is a turn away from the certainty and optimism of modernism. As Jean Francios Lyotard wrote: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.”
Answering the Postmodern Challenge
Postmodernism’s impact on Western culture is hotly debated, and various thinkers and writers- including those coming from a Christian worldview- have offered diverging opinions of it. Some see it as a passing fad; others see it as long-lasting paradigm shift. Some decry it as dangerously destructive; others embrace its destruction of the oppressive structures of modernity.
The most helpful contribution of postmodernism is, first, that it has successfully challenged the reigning paradigm of the modern period, which was based largely on naturalistic humanism. Modernism, in seeking to arrive at absolute knowledge through empirical investigation, separated matters of “faith” from matters of objective knowledge about the real world. Postmodernism confronts this dichotomy in ways that are helpful for the Christian worldview.
Second, postmodernism has cast a large shadow of skepticism (and has offered a strong dose of humility) on the modern belief in the efficacy and near inerrancy of human reason. As was seen during the modern period, human reason can be quite productive, especially in the arenas of science, medicine, and technology. However, human reason can also be manipulative and destructive, especially when it produces the totalizing ideologies (e.g. communism, Nazism, colonialism, etc) that characterized the modern period.
Third, postmodernism has demonstrated that objectivity and certainty are not exclusive to the realm of science as was claimed during the modern period. In fact, science is often quite biased and agenda-driven, and is therefore in no place to claim to be the final arbiter on all matters of knowledge. This is especially helpful for Christians, who often feel the burden to play by the rules of modernism and empirically demonstrate every aspect of Christian truth.
Fourth, postmodernism rightly reminds us of the power of our culture, and especially the language of our culture, in creating our frames of reference. The modern period demonstrated that this power can be used to marginalize and oppress others at the personal and the systemic level. For the Christian, then, care should be taken to distinguish Scriptural teaching from our cultural perceptions.
Finally, the emphasis of postmodernism on story and narrative fits (to a limited extent) with the way the Bible presents God’s interaction with the world. The Bible is, on the whole, a narrative through which God gives us the Truth about Himself, humanity and the world. Of course, for the postmodernist, no story is to be considered true in this absolute sense over and above any other story, and propositions from one interpretive community are irrelevant for others.
The Bible does not present a God whose story is one among many, but a God whose story is the story above all others. So, in dealing with the postmodern mind, evangelicals face a difficult situation. For the past several centuries, modernity has relegated Christianity to the category of an unscientific, unrealistic worldview that is simply not believable for thinking people. Some Christians are tempted to settle for having Christianity accepted as a truth rather than face the prospect of being dismissed due to dogmatically claiming to be the truth, and abandoning the concept of worldview seems to be a small price to pay for having at least some claim to “truth.”
Although the dethroning of humanistic scientific reason is attractive to battle-weary Christian intellectuals, the postmodern denial of all objective truth is unacceptable. Further, it is important to note that none of the positive contributions of postmodernism originated with postmodernism! In fact, the Christian worldview has always attested to the limitations of unaided human reason, the effect of the fall on objectivity and certainty, the tendency of humans towards marginalizing others, and the role the concept of story plays in our experience.
Despite the popularity of postmodernism among many Christians, the Christian worldview and the postmodern worldview cannot co-exist without one capitulating to the other. One could argue that we are chronologically “postmodern;” but ideologically, we cannot become “postmodernists.”
- Immanual Kant, “An Answer to the Question ‘What is Enlightenment?’” available online at http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~lyman/ english233/Kant-WIE.htm.
- David Wells, Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 2005), 74–90.
- Myron Penner, Christianity and the Postmodern Turn: Six Views, 19–28.
- Jean Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi, in Theory and History of Literature, vol. 10 (Minneapolis, MN: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1984).
- Note: This article is an adaptation and abrdigement from the second chapter of Making Sense of Your Wolrd: A Biblical Worldview by Gary Phillips, William Brown, and John Stonestreet.
Guest: Dick Johnson, Bible Teacher, OpenBibleHour.net
Revelation 20:11-15 is one of the most terrifying passages in all of Scripture:
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… Read more
Guest: Jay Richards, author, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem
“Capitalism is based on greed and excess consumption.” “When someone becomes rich, it’s at the expense of another person becoming poor.” “The early church encouraged socialism and having all things in common.” “Capitalism robs and rapes God’s creation.”
You’ve probably heard Christians make some of these condemnations of capitalism. Read more
Guest: Wayne Mack, author, Sweethearts for a Lifetime
Understanding God’s purposes for marriage and applying biblical principles to this life-long covenantal relationship can be difficult today with all the man-based, psycho-babble being spouted from the culture and even the church.
With couples getting married for all the wrong reasons and then contending in marriage with unbiblical perspectives, it’s no wonder such a high percentage of marriages end in divorce, not the least of which are amongst professing Christians.
Wayne Mack, a professor of biblical counseling and author of our June-August Book Club selection, Sweethearts for a Lifetime, will join us live from South Africa this Saturday on The Christian Worldview to explain Read more
In a national teleconference call this week titled “40 Minutes for Health Reform“, President Obama, leaders of the “Christian Left” like Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter, along with 15 different religious groups, spoke to some 140,000 listeners about the moral imperative for health care “reform”, otherwise known as taxpayer-funded and government-directed health care insurance for all.
The President used biblical phrases like “I am my brother’s keeper” and said that there are “a lot of folks bearing false witness” about his health care plan and that health care is Read more
Guest: Pastor Tom Brock, pastor, Hope Lutheran Church
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) held their 2009 churchwide assembly this week at the Minneapolis Convention Center with the key issue of debate being whether the church should allow practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy (the vote takes place Friday). No doubt if Martin Luther were alive today, he would be nailing far more than 95 Theses to the doors of the Lutheran church across the street from the Convention Center where a freak tornado broke the cross off the steeple on Wednesday just as the ELCA was Read more
A crew from the 700 Club came to Minnesota in July to film a short feature on David’s background, faith story, and current work that aired on Thursday, August 20th.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH the 700 Club feature. The full transcript is below.
Please pray that God would use the message of the feature to prompt viewers to be in a “right relationship with the God of this universe” which begins through repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as God’s required punishment for that sin. ”What is more important than that?” the feature rightly concludes.
David Wheaton: A Turn in the Right Direction
By Will Dawson, 700 Club
CBN.com – Will Dawson [reporting]: He wasn’t born with a tennis racket in his hand, but it didn’t take long for David Wheaton to find one.
David Wheaton: At the youngest of age, I think I was four years old, I was taken down to the public courts just down the street from our house, and my mom started tossing me balls. I was wearing like a stars and stripes speedo bathing suit with no other clothes on besides that with a little cut-off wood tennis racket.
Dawson: Do you have a picture of that?
Wheaton: I think I do, but I’m not going to show it to you. I don’t want to be blackmailed later by it.
Dawson [reporting]: Eventually David gave in and shared this footage with us. But despite his questionable fashion sense, David says childhood was a joy.
Wheaton: Part of that idyllic childhood had to do with the fact that my parents were very strong Christians. They had a purpose in raising all of us to be followers of Christ. So I really had a great modeling in the home of what it meant to be a Christian.
Dawson [reporting]: His parents encouraged him as he developed his tennis game to pursue his dream of becoming a professional tennis player. David made the high school tennis team when he was in the seventh grade. As a freshman, he won the Minnesota state championship. At 15 David was offered a full scholarship to the famous Nick Bollatieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he competed against other young upcoming stars like André Agassi and Jim Courier.
Wheaton: I was in that realm of being in the very competitive junior tennis world, playing tournaments throughout the year. It’s a pretty tough scene actually. Tennis was really my focus at that particular point in my life.
Dawson [reporting]: David won the U.S. Open junior title and achieved a number one ranking in the junior tennis circuit in 1987. The following year he accepted a tennis scholarship to Stanford – one of the premiere college tennis programs in the nation. As a Christian though, David found more challenges in college off the court than on it.
Wheaton: Going to college is hard. You are away from your parents for the first time, the temptations of the flesh on campus, sexual immorality, drugs and alcohol. So going off to college I went down that sort of partying lifestyle, and I was going down the wrong path.
Dawson [reporting]: Although David was making poor choices in his personal life, his tennis career was taking off. He helped Stanford win the 1988 national championship his freshman year. From there he pursued his lifelong dream of playing professionally. In 1990 just two years after he turned pro, David won his first major tournament.
Wheaton: I beat Agassi and [Ivan] Lendl along the way to get to the semi-finals of Wimbledon that year, and so it was a very heady time sort of jumping up the ranks quickly.
Dawson [reporting]: David qualified to play in the year-end Grand Slam Cup. At the time it was the biggest prize money event in the history of tennis. David beat Michael Chang in the finals in front of a worldwide audience. But to his surprise, the thrill of victory quickly evaporated.
Wheaton: Within 10 or 15 minutes after the biggest win of my career, biggest moment of my life in tennis up to that point, most everyone was gone. I remember thinking, ‘Wow! That was really over in a hurry. My goodness! Where’s the victory lap here? Am I going to be running around the court or what’s going on?!’ And it was the first time in my life where I really realized that fame, fortune, success, what so many people chase after in life — that wasn’t going to be very fulfilling.
Dawson [reporting]: That’s when David began to question his purpose in life.
Wheaton: My relationship with my parents was very broken because of the way I was living my life. My relationship with God was obviously very broken. The relationships I had with other people were not right and just the things going on in my life. Yeah, outwardly I was very successful, but inwardly, I was very conflicted.
Dawson [reporting]: David turned to the his Bible for answers.
Wheaton: As I began to read the Word and just be under the conviction of God in my life, I came to realize how much I was offending God with my life and how much I couldn’t change myself. At that particular time over that month or two period, I came to a point of real repentance in my life, and I committed to following Christ. I believed that He was the Savior of my sin, and I trusted to follow Him as Lord. My life changed immediately 180 degrees in the right direction.
Dawson [reporting]: David went on to win four more tournament titles that spanned a 13-year career. Now 40, he still plays occasionally on the senior circuit. In fact he and his partner won the 35 and over doubles tournament at Wimbledon in 2004. Most of his focus these days though is as an author and host of a nationally broadcast radio talk show called The Christian Worldview. But of all his successes, there is one David regards more highly than any others.
Wheaton: Being in a right relationship with your Creator, being reconciled to God — this is the highest purpose in life. You can have everything. You can have nothing. Whatever situation you are in if you’re not in a right relationship with the God of this universe, you are never going to have a satisfying fulfilling life on earth. [And then] there’s the eternal benefit of having eternal life with Christ in heaven. What’s more important than that?