Postmodern philosophy declares that all truth is valid truth. Since every person’s particular definition of truth is considered to be, in fact, true, there can be no competing ideologies. In other words, everyone can hold to their own personal ideology, regardless of whether or not it can be proven true, because it is true in the mind of the beholder. Since it is true to the person holding it, it is not necessary to actually prove or defend said truth, as it does not have to be true in the eyes of any other person. This results in creating a personal echo chamber wherein truth holders surrounds themselves with only that information which affirms their belief and never allows anything in that could challenge their thoughts.
The problem with the postmodern belief system is that it still allows other persons or groups to belief and espouse truths that contradict our own. Despite the fact that multitudes of people attempt to live in their personal echo chambers, opposing belief systems will ultimately crash into each other. To use an extreme example, if a person believed that traffic laws did not apply to them, and that they could drive on any side of the road they chose, a person who believed the opposite would one day have a face to face meeting with them. Likewise, our individual belief systems impact how we think, speak, and act. No matter how much culture says your beliefs can only be your own, and hence, should not impact others, the reality is that we will act out on our beliefs in our interactions with other people. Therefore, our personal echo chambers cannot filter out other belief systems no matter how hard we try to plug our ears.
Once we are confronted with truths that contradict our thinking, especially if we hear those truths espoused en masse, we are forced to defend what we believe. This is one of the most difficult aspects of the post modern philosophy to deal with in practicality. We cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of society, so we must live with the reality that ideas have consequences. Our personal truths do not exist in a vacuum. They impact our lives in how we live, how we work, how we vote, and so forth. When people are allowed to pursue whatever truth they wish, they ultimately we live out those truths around us. They will speak to us and act toward us in ways that are inconsistent with our personal truths. We are then forced into a series of options: we can remain consistent with post-modernism, allowing their actions to impact our lives in uncomfortable ways; we can abandon postmodernism, returning to the search for truth by debating which belief is actually true; or we can determine that competing belief systems are intolerant and offensive, thus are not deserving of protection in the postmodern philosophy. It is this last option that has been resoundingly accepted in our current culture.
It is important to understand the anti-intellectual nature of the the “I’m offended” argument. For the Christian, we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). We are not commanded to simply be emotive, but thoughtful in our worship. We are to know not only the love of the Lord in our hearts, but we are to commit His Word to our mind and meditate on it’s meaning. Knowing His commands changes our thoughts processes and works itself out in our daily living. Christianity, then, is a thinking man’s religion.
When we attempt to engage the culture, we must recognize it is now operating primarily in the realm of emotion. Human emotion is fickle and affected by numerous outside sources. Our circumstances can throw our emotional state into a variety of directions, even if it is only a perceived, rather than real, problem. Thus, a culture that desperately seeks to hold to personal truths on the basis of feelings is not operating in the same arena as those who are seeking to work through issues by means of objective truth. While we should never seek to be personally offensive to another person, by simply appealing to a factual and logical argument, we can be perceived as attacking one’s person. This is because the culture is equating personal truths as being part and parcel with a person’s character. Thus, to argue against one’s personal truth is to argue against the very existence of the person.
This is not to say that we ought to never attempt to argue from an objective standard of truth. In fact, the only means by which we can overcome emotional rhetoric is showing the actual disparity between perception and reality. This type of argumentation cannot be done with haste or heavy-handedness. It can take a great deal of time to overcome one’s belief that their personal truths have actual weight and merit in reality. Additionally, there is a persistent conflation of objective truth with personal preferences and perceptions in our culture. In other words, many view objective truth as having the same merit as preferences in flavors of ice cream. It is argued that we all have our preferred truths, just as we do in culinary treats; therefore, there is no need to establish one view (or preference) as being objectively true.
This means that when we seek to establish the Word of God as the sole source of truth and light in this world, postmodern adherents equivocate this to telling them that chocolate ice cream is superior to all other kinds of ice cream. When we claim that Christ is the only means of salvation, with all others leading to condemnation, the postmodern hears it as saying that eating any other ice cream means you should be poisoned and killed. Such a claim would seem ludicrous if truth is only in the eye of the beholder. The postmodern believes holding to an objective truth that is applicable to all other persons, regardless of personal truths, is highly offensive because it is asserting one preference is applicable to everyone, regardless of personal taste. Again, this results in an anti-intellectual stance because it refuses to allow for an examination or distinction between preferences and actual truth claims.
Our culture is now faced with the fact that competing ideas have real world impact. Thus, postmodern adherents have come to the conclusion that not all belief systems, especially those which hold to an objective truth, can be allowed to espoused. If allowed to exist and be expressed, such truths will not only contradict other personal truths, but impact a peroson’s ability to live out those personal beliefs. By way of real world example, post-modern philosophy argues that pro-homosexual marriage practitioners can hold to their beliefs with the same vigor as do Christians who hold to the biblical definition of marriage. The problem is that, upon acting out those beliefs, both groups are impacted by each other. One cannot propose biblical marriage as the only valid form of marriage without impacting homosexual unions. Proponents of gay marriage cannot have the laws changed without affecting those who hold to biblical marriage. Both groups are equally affected by the existence, and practice, of competing beliefs.
In times past, these competing groups would have brought the issue into the public forum for debate and discussion. However, the current practice of postmodern thinking does not allow for competition of ideas. This leaves only one means by which they can address the objective truth stance held by Christianity. That is the utter eradication of a competing belief system. Thus, it is now argued that some personal truths are so offensive, so damaging to the mental well being of others, that they simply cannot be allowed to be espoused or practiced. The cry for tolerance and non-offensiveness is couched in the idea that people cannot be allowed hold to ideas that cause others emotional hurt. If we profess beliefs that have impact on the practice of another person’s beliefs, then we are damaging that person mentally and emotionally. As such, these beliefs are considered too backward, too dangerous to be allowed into the public arena. It then becomes perfectly acceptable to demonize not only the beliefs, but the persons who hold to them, as hateful and bigoted. Thus, the anti-intellectual stance is given credibility when it would have normally been exposed as a logical fallacy.
The evangelical church has been infected by postmodern thinking for many years. Many polls and studies shows an increasing number of professing Christians who believe it is wrong to challenge the beliefs of other people. Believing that Christianity is only one path to God, denying immoral sexual behavior is sin, and even believing the Bible is not inspired or inerrant have become commonplace in the professing church. Many Christians have even adopted an “eleventh commandment” in the form of “Thou shalt not judge” by misapplying the teachings of Christ in Matthew 7. This stems from a deep seated emotional desire to be liked among those with whom we live and work. Knowing that the culture has radically rejected the objective truths of Christ, many professing Christians seek to adopt worldly thinking in order to soften the blow of Scripture’s teachings. This leads to an unbiblical compromise that strips the Word of God and the gospel of any authority and power.
Christians cannot compromise in this arena. No matter how loudly the world screams against us, we must hold to the authoritative and objective truth of the Scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “ All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Paul made it clear that God’s Word is the sole authoritiative source for life and godliness. Christians cannot submit to man made philosophies in order to soothe the consciences of the world. Those who are outside Christ are enslaved to their sin. Their hearts are hardened and their consciences are seared. The world will hold to whatever philosophy will excuse its wretchedness before an almighty God, even one which demands we throw all intellectualism to the wind. As such, we must bow before the mighty wisdom of God and trust in His work to reach them. While we must always preach the truth in love, we cannot ever abdicate that truth for fear of offending someone. Christians, let us be congnizant of the situations and circumstance in which we speak. We must not add offense to the gospel by our own arrogance and pride. Let us always be humble speakers, knowing that we deserve the same condemnation the rest of the world, yet, are redeemed by God’s precious mercy. And that only can be found in the unwavering truth of the gospel, contained in the objectively true and unapologetic Word of God.