Archive Picks

More from 2002

"The Back Page: More Doctrine, Not Less"

We need to proclaim truth to a truth-impaired generation
2002This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

"Don't fight postmodernity," the speaker, a popular theologian, exhorted the packed crowd of Christian educators. "Take advantage of it. Express experience over reason, image over words."

But should Christians really be celebrating postmodernism? Admittedly, it's good that modernism, which jettisoned God in favor of reason, has collapsed. But postmodernism has rejected not only God and reason but also the very idea of universally valid truth. It teaches that individuals are locked in the limited perspective of their own race, sex, or ethnic group; claims to moral truth are viewed as oppressive.

Postmodernism has thus radically altered the way many in this generation think about life's most basic suppositions. And as postmoderns begin filling our pews, it becomes increasingly hard for those who think in traditional terms to communicate the biblical view of life, or even to present the gospel.

When we speak of truth—meaning binding absolutes—our postmodern neighbors hear just one more opinion among many. The biblical story, which we present as divine revelation, is seen merely as one of many, equally valid cultural narratives.

This makes moral propositions increasingly problematic to postmodern listeners. For instance, how can we argue for the "common good" when postmodernists don't believe in a common good, seeking instead, as philosopher John Gray put it, merely "to reconcile conflicting goods"?

We lack even a common language for moral discourse. When we use the term liberty, for example, we mean the classic definition, famously articulated by Benjamin Franklin: the right to do what is right. Our Founders tied freedom—the highest political goal—to moral truth.

But postmodernism unties the knot; today, when newcomers to our pews ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
Previous Charles Colson Columns:
From Issue:
April
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
More from this IssueRead This Issue
Read These Next
close