Maybe God is more post modern than we thought? Pt. 1

postmodern art

The Prophet Isaiah declares;

Isa 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
Isa 40:11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Isa 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
Isa 40:13 Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?
Isa 40:14 Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

Scripture speaks of God as mighty, caring, immense, wise, all knowing; but today the God of scripture is charged with being immoral, uncaring, weak and ignorant. Why? It seems the postmodern mind has determined God does not fit the mold of their conceptions of good or evil. For the post modernist, God is really weak because his claim to unlimited knowledge doesn’t jibe with their inability to reconcile why supposed innocents are left to the slaughter of lunatic gunmen, insane terrorists, exploiting greedy men while God seemingly does nothing about it. For others God is a buzz-kill a party spoiler. To these postmodernist thinkers God represents the fly-in-the-ointment or wrench inside the gears. God gets in the way of a happy conscience that will have all it wants and whatever it wants with no feelings of guilt. “Let no one guilt trip me about homosexuality or about gay marriage”, others say “there is no objective truth, its what we make of every situation, how we describe it, how we define it, we create our own morality and in turn our own ethic, there is no need for ancient standards to invade the individuals freedom”.  For them to jettison ancient standards is to invite freedom from ancient oppressors. What is the upside? Freedom from guilt, freedom from scrutiny, freedom from accountability to others, freedom from adherence to truth statements that are mere perspectives framed in words used to categorize and oppress those who do not agree with those in power.

To other postmodernists, the God of scripture is unable to identify who he/she is. The postmodernist believes they are evolving as a person, changing and moving from idea to idea, need to need; each day and each moment presents to them the school of what it means to be who they are. Situational-ethics is more than a chosen moral act of the moment, its a progression of being, it’s learning what it means to just be themselves in the face of myriads of moral and ethical dilemmas. For some, morphing is necessary part of who they are.  The question arises, how can God know me, I don’t know myself? How can God judge me, I am still learning, still evolving and what I was, I am not now, what I will be has not yet appeared?

The postmodernist worldview is not liberal or democratic per-se, it uses liberalism or a political party as a vehicle to further the individuals own happiness. Much the same way Christians will use the Republican party as a vehicle to pursue modernist and conservative philosophies that are conducive to a Christian lifestyle. Political platforms and philosophies are vehicles, they always have been vehicles. Ask anyone who is thinking about the world, their own place in it and how attitudes and culture affects them and they will tell you that making the whole world liberal is not the goal, making the whole world conservative is not the goal. What is the goal? Its to find a place and a people where they may be free to live as they truly are and express themselves without fear of reprisal. In short, its a place and people that will love and accept them for what they are.  The Postmodernist is seeking community, but community not built upon constraint but freedom, love not hate, tolerance not intolerance, expression not repression. The meta-narratives of the world do not answer the desires within them, religion or atheism can be a vehicle but not in itself the answer. For the postmodernist, they have found that in the past others have sought the same community, but they failed. Why? The postmodernist concludes that the modernist mindset that presupposed the meta-narratives of the past was the poison that eventually killed genuine community.

What were the supports for the meta-narratives? In short, the postmodernist pulls out the main 4 pillars that give the modernist meta-narrative the power to stand . Those four I believe are contained  in this. Personal fulfillment, Objective truth, Historical interpretation, Human identity 1.  Allow me to show you how it appears to work. Personal fulfillment is the acting out of our own personal desires, whereby what we do is loved and appreciated, not just for the act itself but because I am doing it and it represents a clear expression of myself in some form. Any meta-narrative that prohibits or denies my freedom of expression sexually, morally, verbally or in acts or deeds through art, literature, invention or some form of creativity is an enemy to me.  The postmodernist says I am trapped and condemned by such a narrative. When objective truth is used, it is generally regarded as not objective but subjective and therefore oppressive. The truth is again just another form of containment, but this time it’s built on words and ideas that may have nothing to do with me or my world. Truth, becomes the law of the oppressor, the prison guard that forbids expression of all that is contradictory to that so-called ‘truth’. The postmodernist says “who wants truth that is nothing more than a verbalized power play”? Historical interpretation again deals with the idea that language does not convey truth to the postmodernist, but an interpretation of events tailored to give one side advantage over another. The postmodernist says “I don’t agree that history can warn me of a future event, or that it has relevance to my way of living.” Finally human identity used by the modernist is for categorizing people into various ‘kinds’ that do not necessarily fit me and it again is simply a way to corral people into groups for the benefit of others.

Hopefully through some of this, I have represented the postmodernist mindset. No doubt it will not fit all and it might even be errant in some respects considering I am not a postmodernist myself. I do hope that I have at least offered a usable sketch that can take us where I am attempting to go.

Now let us transfer some of these traits of postmodernism to what God has said about himself. It’s fair to give God a hearing, the postmodernist believes he/she should be heard on the mere basis that what they think and feel is important, so too, God should be given the same respect and audience.

I will ask a few basic questions.

1. Is it not fair that God has the right to express himself as he wills?

2. Cannot God who created the world and all that is in it, determine to do what he wills with what he has made without being condemned by those who do not share that same power?

3. Can God know something we do not know, act upon it then proceed to alter the course of multitudes based upon information that we do not have?

4. Is it fair to condemn God according to our standards of morality when postmodernism permits many various expressions of morality and applauds itself for doing so?

5. How can we who do not have the power to know the future or shape our lives with certainty lay claim that God is weak when in fact his actions at any moment are not easily discerned?

6. Why do we humans presume to judge God on the morals and mindset that we have now, when in years past God would have been applauded and vindicated?

7. Is postmodernism saying its the ‘culmination of wisdom and fairness’ for all generations?

You are free to answer these questions for yourself. As a postmodernist its very modern to set the judgment bar to where you judge God cannot jump over it. But is that what postmodernism is about? Is it about making God a villain in order to pretend we are bigger, smarter and more powerful than is reality?

More about God and postmodernism to come.

1. Take from Kevin Vanhoozer’s work mentioned in Alister McGrath’s book Mere Apologetics Baker Books pg.33-34.

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