Sunday, November 11, 2007

Postmodernism and the Doctrine of the Fall

Despite the rantings of some church leaders about how awful pomo is, I personally think it fits better with one basic Biblical doctrine than modernism does. The modern assumption is that man is basically good, and with proper education, health care, and the elimination of poverty, everything will be fine. The Bible teaches that man was created good, but rebelled against his Creator; and ever since, man has been flawed. Compared to what he was, he is now flawed morally, intellectually (researchers figured out years ago we only use about 10% of our brain's capacity) and physically. This means you can't always count on people doing the right thing; even the smartest have blind spots and weaknesses, and very few are as smart as they think they are; and our bodies run down, wear out, and succumb to diseases.

It is common to claim that postmoderns don't believe in absolute truth. But what if there are some absolutes, but you can't rely on fallen Man, as he now is, to (1) recognize one if he stumbles across it, (2) understand it completely if he does recognize it, and (3) express it accurately to someone else so they can understand it? I think the real net effect is nearly the same; you don't have properly functioning absolutes, not because there are none, but because Man doesn't "get it" when he sees one.

Which of these two views of Man--the modern mantra that Man is basically good, or the historic Christian teaching that Man is marred by the effects of sin and death--actually corresponds better to the real world we live in? If Man is good, why are there such people as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam Hussein, Ahmedinejad, Charles Manson, and the neighborhood mugger? But according to the Bible, such people are to be expected because of the present nature of man. Even when he means well, Man does not always do what he knows he ought to do (I've worked in residential construction for the last 20 years, and I've seen way too much shoddy, substandard, unsafe, and just plain WRONG work done by supposedly trained and licensed tradespeople--and missed by the building inspectors, too!) And there are some people who don't even mean well.

I think the postmodern shift is going to allow us to get back to some basic Biblical concepts that the modern world rejected and tried to ignore. As Brian MacLaren expressed it, the modern world was not a bed of roses for Christianity; let's look for the opportunities the new situation may bring.

1 comment:

ded said...


This is so right on. We are basically bad. Modern Christianity has reduced the individual Christian experience to a self-help, self-improvement plan. The only problem is that the old man and his sinful nature cannot be improved. Holiness of the Most High God cannot be achieved by study and discipline.