Piper’s Thesis of “THE FUTURE OF JUSTIFICATION”

The Thesis of “The Future of Justification”

In the opening lines of the introduction, Piper lays out the intent and thesis of the book: “the subject matter of this book—justification by faith apart from works of the law—is serious. There is as much riding on this truth as could ride on any truth in the Bible. ‘If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose’ (Gal 2:21).”[1] Piper goes on to remind the reader that if Christ died for no purpose, then believers are still in sin, and those who have died in Christ have perished.[2] N. T. Wright believes the “discussions of justification in much of the history of the church,” since Augustine, got off on the wrong foot of misunderstanding Paul and “have stayed there ever since.”[3] Piper believes that Wright’s portrayal of the gospel, in particular the doctrine of justification, is so disfigured that it is difficult to recognize as biblically faithful. In Piper’s eyes Wright may think he has a clear grasp of the gospel and justification, but Piper is concerned that this belief system will not make the lordship of Christ good news for sinners or show how those overwhelmed with sin may stand righteous before God.[4] Piper’s hope with this book is to correct this misunderstanding and cause believers to seriously study and faithfully preach the gospel, including the good news of justification by faith apart from works of the law (Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16).[5] The dominant argument of this book is that John Piper believes the gospel is being lost not in outright dismissal of it, but in a gradual relaxing of it due to the obscuring of the biblical understanding of justification. Piper believes this distorting of justification is so dangerous that Wright may be reinforcing Roman Catholic soteriology.[6]

[1] John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007), 14.

[2] Ibid, 14-15.

[3] N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Saul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 115.

[4] Piper, The Future of Justification, 15.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 183.

The Realistic View of Imputation of Sin

After reviewing the mediate view of imputation on sin and evaluating it, we now turn our attention to a more popular view on the Realistic view of Imputation of sin.


The earliest explanation for the sin of Adam and the guilt of all his descendants was the realistic theory which states that human nature constitutes both generically and numerically a single unit.[1] The same substance which acted in Adam and Eve, having been communicated to us, their act was as truly and properly our act, being the act of our reason and will, as it was their act.[2] It is imputed to us therefore not as his, but as our own. This means humanity literally sinned in Adam, and consequently the guilt of that sin is our personal guilt and the consequent corruption of nature is the effect of our own voluntary act.[3] “The total guilt of the first sin, thus committed by the entire race in Adam, is imputed to each individual of the race, because of the indivisibility of guilt.”[4]  This means that each individual nature is guilty and corrupt for the whole of the first sin or “offense” against God because even though the common nature is divisible by propagation, the offense and the guilt are not divisible.[5]

Continue reading

Hebrew Parallelism in Psalm 19

As a follow up to the previous post, here is an example of Hebrew Parallelism taken from Psalm 19. This is just one way that it could be done as some verses could have slight identification difference.

HEBREW PARALLELISM IN PSALM 19

  • Psalm 19:1

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:2

Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:3

There is no speech, nor are there words;

Their voice is not heard.

[Synthetic]

  • Psalm 19:4

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their utterances to the end of the world.

[Synonymous (lines 1-2)]

In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

[Synthetic (lines 1/2-3)]

  • Psalm 19:5

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;

It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

[Emblematic Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:6

Its rising is from one end of the heavens,

And its circuit to the other end of them;

[Synonymous (lines 1-2)]

And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

[Synthetic (lines 1/2-3)]

  • Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:8

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:9

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

[Synthetic]

  • Psalm 19:10

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:11

Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;

(Your servant) In keeping them there is great reward.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:12

Who can discern his errors?

Acquit me of hidden faults.

[Synonymous]

  • Psalm 19:13

Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

[Antithethical (lines 1-2)]

Then I will be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

[Synthetic (lines 3-4)]

[Synonymous (lines 1-4)]

  • Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

[Formal (lines 1-2)]

O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

[Formal (lines 1/2-3)]

10 Observations from Acts 1:6-11

The purpose of this assignment is to make at least ten observations from the section of Acts 1:6-11. The point is to not only enhance your observation techniques but to see how a section of Scripture can all tie together. It is to see a specific verse in the greater context.

Acts 1:6

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

  1. “They” alludes to the “men of Galilee” mentioned in verse 11.
  2. “Lord” refers to Jesus because the “two men in white” say “this Jesus” in verse 11.
  3. The “men of Galilee” are only focused on Israel.
  4. By asking Jesus the question, the “men of Galilee” are thinking of an earthly kingdom.
  5. “They were asking Him” indicates that the whole group was interested in this question, not just one or two people.
  6. “Come together” indicates they had been apart or separated and not seen been together as a group in while.
  7. “Restoring” indicates that the kingdom was taken away or destroyed.
  8. “The Kingdom” indicates a certain kingdom with a certain purpose.
  9. “You are” indicates that the “men of Galilee” recognized his authority and power to restore the kingdom if Jesus wanted to.
  10. “Lord” indicates that they saw Jesus as a ruler or king.
  11. “Lord” indicates that they saw themselves as servants of Jesus.

Acts 1:7

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

  1. “Has fixed” indicates that “the Father” set or secured an exact date.
  2. “The Father has fixed by His own authority” indicates that He knows the exact date of the restoration.
  3. “Times or epochs” is plural indicating future events.
  4. “Not for you to know” indicates that Jesus doesn’t want them to worry about the date or when the kingdom will come.
  5. “He said to them” indicates that Jesus has the ability to speak.
  6. “By His own authority” indicates He has ultimate power and decision.
  7. “Father” is capitalized indicating that it is a proper name or title.
  8. “Know” indicates the information or awareness of the time.
  9. “Own” is used with the possessive “His” to emphasize that “authority” belongs to “the Father”.
  10. There are three characters in the verse: “them” refers to the “men of Galilee”, “He” refers to “Jesus”, and “the Father”.
  11. “It” refers to the “restoring” of “the kingdom” mentioned in verse 6.

Acts 1:8

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

  1. “But” is a contrastive conjunction indicating a continuation from the previous text.
  2. The Holy Spirit brings the power to be a witness.
  3. Three specific places are mentioned in this verse (Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria).
  4. “Remotest” is an adjective describing the command to the witnesses to go to all populations regardless of location.
  5. The result of the Holy Spirit coming is power to be witnesses in the remotest parts of the earth.
  6. The Holy Spirit has not yet come upon them.
  7. Jerusalem is mentioned first.
  8. “My witnesses” indicates that they belong to Jesus.
  9. The goal of the verse is to empower the “men of Galilee” to go be witnesses all over the earth.
  10. “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you” refers to an event that will happen.
  11. The Holy Spirit has the authority or the ability to give power.
  12. “Will receive” is a transitive verb clause that indicates the listeners will acquire or come into possession of power.
  13. “Power” in this verse indicates the strength, words, wisdom to be a witness for Jesus.
  14. “Part” is singular and the direct object of the word “remotest” to indicate a location.
  15. “Holy” indicates that the Spirit is divine.

Acts 1:9

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

  1. “Looking on” indicates they observed Jesus being “lifted up”.
  2. “After” is a preposition to indicate the time following Jesus speaking.
  3. “These things” indicates the sayings in verses seven and eight.
  4. “Was” is used in the third person passive with the pronoun “He” to indicate the subject of who was being “lifted up”.
  5. “Lifted” indicates being raised from a lower position to a higher position.
  6. “Up” indicates the direction of being lifted.
  7. “While” is a conjunction indicating that Jesus was being “lifted up” at the same time as they were “looking on.
  8. “Out of their sight” reiterates that the “men of Galilee” were able to watch Jesus ascend but now they could see Him no longer.
  9. “A cloud” indicates a certain, specific singular cloud.
  10. The result of Jesus saying “these things” is him being lifted up.
  11. “Received” indicates that the cloud accepted Him or was given Jesus.
  12. The independent clause is “He was lifted up while they were looking on”.
  13. “And” is a coordinating conjunction that joins the independent clause with the dependent clause.

Acts 1:10

10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.

  1. “While He was going” indicates that it wasn’t a quick ascension, it took some time. He didn’t just vanish.
  2. “Intently” indicates that Jesus’ ascension had their full and earnest attention.
  3. “As” is a correlating conjunction indicating that while they were looking and Jesus was ascending the “two men in white” appeared.
  4. “Two” gives the exact number of “men in white clothing” that appeared.
  5. “Men” indicates the gender of these visitors.
  6. “Into the sky” refers to where they were gazing.
  7. “Behold” indicates that they saw and observed these “two men” in a sudden and remarkable way.
  8. “White” indicates the color of their clothing.
  9. “Clothing” indicates that these visitors were wearing clothes and the “men of Galilee” could see that it was clothing.
  10. “Stood beside” indicates that the “men of Galilee” were also standing.
  11. “Beside” indicates the where they were standing.

Acts 1:11

11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

  1. “Heaven” indicates where Jesus went.
  2. “Will come” is the main verb of this sentence representing a future event that is to occur or happen.
  3. These men were also able to speak.
  4. The two men address the group as the “men of Galilee” to refer to those who Jesus addressed, visited and will receive power from the Holy Spirit.
  5. “From you” indicates a closeness, bond and friendship.
  6. This verse brings hope to the “men of Galilee” by telling them that just as they saw Jesus leave them, He will come back.
  7. This verse indicates the “way” that Jesus will return.
  8. The title “Men of Galilee” was given to the group of men, whether they were from there or not.
  9. “Into” indicates the movement of Jesus going to heaven and being surrounded or enclosed by heaven.
  10. “This Jesus” indicates the person the men just talked to and be lifted into heaven.
  11. “Why do you stand looking into the sky?” is a rhetorical question.
  12. “In” represents Jesus entering earth from heaven.

More Observations on Acts 1:8

This assignment is to perform an additional 25 observations on Acts 1:8

Acts 1:8 (NASB)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

  1. Jesus is the one speaking.
  2. The Holy Spirit has not yet come upon them.
  3. Jerusalem is mentioned first.
  4. “My witnesses” indicates that they belong to Jesus.
  5. “You” is used three times to indicate a personalness or familiarity.
  6. The goal of the verse is to empower the audience to go be witnesses all over the earth.
  7. “Earth” is used to indicate that Jesus wants His witnesses outside the surrounding region.
  8. Judea and Samaria are regions that are close to each other.
  9. “Even” is used in a shocking or surprising way to the audience to go beyond the boundaries of Judea and Samaria.
  10. “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you” refers to an event that will happen.
  11. “Come upon” indicates when the Holy Spirit meets the audience.
  12. They didn’t have the power yet to be witnesses since the Holy Spirit has not come to them.
  13. The independent clause starting with “but” offers the audience hope for the power to keep going.
  14. The dependent clause starting with “and” is a declarative statement that results in a command to be witnesses.
  15. “Holy” indicates that the Spirit is divine.
  16. “Spirit” indicates that it does not have a body.
  17. The ‘H’ and ‘S’ in “Holy Spirit” are capitalized indicating that it is the proper title or name.
  18. The ‘M’ in “My” is capitalized referring to Jesus and His authority, divinity, and holiness.
  19. “To” is a preposition that indicates the direction suggestive of movement toward the “remote parts of the earth.”
  20. “You” is a pronoun that indicates the group that is being addressed.
  21. “Upon” is a preposition that indicates a direct action of the Holy Spirit coming very close or arriving on the listeners.
  22. The Holy Spirit has the authority or the ability to give power.
  23. “Will receive” is a transitive verb clause that indicates the listeners will acquire or come into possession of power.
  24. “Power” in this verse indicates the strength, words, wisdom to be a witness for Jesus.
  25. “Part” is singular and the direct object of the word “remotest” to indicate a location.

Surprised by the Voice of God Review

The following posts will comprise a series of smaller parts that make up the whole of the bigger review. This review was issued to seminary students to do a critical review of the Jack Deere’s book, “Surprised by the Voice of God.” Part of this review is to identify the good and the bad parts that make up this book. While the book challenges the reader to look at their own life and not be happy with a static life with God, it calls into question some of its methods or what it tends to elevate. I hope that all of us will be able to experience the fruit of the Spirit, but also the gifts of the Spirit will be exhibited.

SURPRISED BY A DIFFERENT REVELATION

If you are a humble, willing and available Christian, then there is a way to hear the audible voice of God and have prophetic visions, dreams and impressions. All this could happen on a regular, normal basis that far exceeds what most Christians experience and could even exceed what the church of Acts experienced. In the book, “Surprised by the Voice of God,” Dr. Jack Deere provides a simple formula to experiencing God on a normal, direct, consistent basis.

There are various claims throughout the book that Deere makes about himself and his associates receiving divine messages about the future, as well as information regarding others and their issues. These experiences reportedly include precise information about other people (13-17), events that are both past and future (343-58), and specific direction regarding one’s life (286-88). Each one comes with some amount of success to make the stories sound plausible. At the heart of the book, Deere explains why he believes God is speaking to Christians today on a frequent basis to those that are keen to listen. According to Deere, the same phenomena that a Christian reads in Scripture, should represent what our normal Christian life is like today. He believes those experiences did not cease once the apostolic era and New Testament canon was closed.[1] Throughout his book, Deere subtly and convincingly structures his argument by: appealing to Scripture to validate his case, claiming to hold Scripture as an authority and frequent illustrations that support his ideas.

However, as he makes his claims he sends the reader down a very dangerous path. He calls into question the authority, canonicity, inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible. He elevates experience to the same level or authority as Scripture. In his generalizing of Scriptural interpretation, he makes the miraculous into something normal, which is also to say that his Christianity is superior to others, or that if we aren’t experiencing what he does, it is because we are prideful idolaters. The goal of this essay is to review the claims that Deere makes in his book and provide an alternative view to his conclusions.

[1] Jack Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 276-278.

“True Words” by Nicholas Wolterstorff – what is truth?

This post discusses the meaning of truth as defined by Nicholas Wolterstorff in his article “True Words.”

How does Wolterstorff define truth? interact with his biblical support.

    • Wolterstorff suggests that the “root notion of truth is that of something measuring up – that is, measuring up in being or excellence.
    • In the John 5:31 verse where Jesus says, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.” This is a response by Christ that the standard was the law which required two or three witnesses. So His testimony alone doesn’t meet or measure up to the standard of the law. This is also why He goes on to say, in this context, that another testifies about Him which makes it true in the very next verse.  “There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.”

How do you evaluate his definition of truth?

    • While each case will be different and the standard will be dependent on the context, Wolterstorff lays out a simple yet sophisticated way to determine what truth is. He also does a good job of distinguishing between commands and assertions. His definition provides an excellent litmus test to determining if these assertions are “true” by meeting a certain criteria that pertains to the context. Wolterstorff does well in providing an explanation to what a “standard sense” is by saying that the “true assertion” must fit or “correspond to the facts.”

What are the most significant strengths?

    • The most significant strength of his definition is that it simply uses a certain criteria, or standard, to measure truth against. It says that if this assertion, with all of the facts, meets this standard, then it is accurate, correct and thus truth. If it doesn’t, then it is not true. Or if the proposition states that something is not true, then it is not true.

Are there any significant weaknesses?

    • While he provides one of the best definitions of truth, it does have some weaknesses. First, there will be different standards for different assertions. Each case will be different and dependent upon the context. It will be limited to those propositions. Secondly, Wolterstorff states that the listener assumes the way of measuring up to the standard is the way the speaker has in mind of measuring it. This leads to the human factor. This means that because we view truth through our limited perspective of humanity. That if we “assume” incorrectly, we may not have an accurate view of truth.

Models of Revelation continued: Presence, Awareness, and Proper Evangelical

Continuation of the discussion on Avery Dulles’ book, “Models of Revelation.” This post discusses the dialectical presence model and the new awareness model. Finally, it concludes with what the evangelical model more accurately looks like.

Model Four: Revelation as Dialectical Presence

Dulles defines this model by stating that, “God…could never be an object known either by inference from nature or history, by propositional teaching, or by direct perception of a mystical kind. Utterly transcendent, God encounters the human subject when it pleases him by means of a word in which faith recognizes him to be present.”[1] The “crucial moment of revelation” for this model is God’s utterance of a word charged with divine power.[2] This model is a response to the inner experience model which overemphasized the imminence of God. In this model, God is unknowable unless He makes Himself known. Revelation begins with God’s self-disclosure. The difference between this model and the experience model is that this encounter begins with God’s initiative. The content of revelation for this model is God, particularly God revealing Jesus Christ through words is one of its strengths.

Other strengths of this model are its focus on Christ and the need for revelation as God’s self-disclosure. The problems with this model is that it “views Scripture as a fallible witness to a revelational encounter” and considers its propositional statements fallible.[3] In addition, it limits divine revelation to the encounter with Christ and ignores other forms of divine revelation.

Model Five: Revelation as New Awareness

The form of revelation for this model is that of a “breakthrough into a more advanced stage of human consciousness, such that the self is experienced as constituted and empowered by the divine presence.”[4] The “crucial moment of revelation” for this model is the “the stimulation of the human imagination to restructure experience in a new framework.”[5] Revelation occurs by active involvement and immersion in the world. It is a reflection of God in human consciousness and is ongoing, not to be confined to the past.

The strengths are that symbols and experience can produce and induce a divine consciousness. It is also not as rigid and as authoritarian as other models. The weaknesses of this model though are quite substantial for the evangelical. Since God is not the object of revelation, the lack of content and rejection of verbal revelation are serious problems.

The More Complex Evangelical Model

Dulles reminds us that “The differences are limited and relate more to the theological understanding of revelation than to the fundamental idea.”[6] These models point out how different people understand the same terminology differently, which is part of the issue with revelation, it is how we respond or interpret it.

As we have seen, each model offers a variety of strengths and weaknesses. In the revelation as doctrine model, the major strengths are that God does speak and reveal Himself and His will verbally. Other strengths include the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture we recognize as part of the evangelical model. In the revelation as history model, God revealing Himself in acts in history is the main strength. The major strength of the revelation as inner experience model is that God does reveal Himself in a personal and communal relationship with His followers. The strength of the dialectical model is revelation occurring by God’s initiative and that God is perfectly revealed in Christ. Finally, the major strength of the revelation as new awareness is the value of symbols and active involvement in the experience of God’s creation. In summation, the evangelical model is much broader and more complex than Dulles originally described. By taking the main strengths of each models and incorporating them into the evangelical model, it becomes a more comprehensive and complete model that symbolizes the views of the evangelical Christian in an effort to know and respond to God’s divine revelations.

[1] Dulles, 28.

[2] Ibid, 28.

[3] Henry, 24.

[4] Dulles, 109.

[5] Ibid, 28.

[6] Ibid, 118.

Bibliography 

Dulles, Avery. Models of Revelation. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1992.

Henry, Carl F. H.. “The Authority and Inspiration of the Bible,” in The Expositor’s Bible

Commentary, vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

RESPONSE TO GRENZ & OLSON, WHO NEEDS THEOLOGY?

Book Review of Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson’s “Who Needs Theology”. The book describes the public misconception about theology in the church, the good and the bad, and why proper theology is so useful in today’s society.

RESPONSE TO GRENZ & OLSON, WHO NEEDS THEOLOGY?

The book “Who Needs Theology” by Stanly Grenz and Roger Olson takes the reader on a journey to discover why everyone needs theology and everyone is a theologian. It describes the common misconceptions that many have with theology and exposes those misconceptions to the real purpose and truths of theology. That purpose is not just one of amassing knowledge or growing to know more about the Christian faith, but it is to affect the life of a believer in Christ, and allow one to be able to articulate truth to the surrounding culture. It is to take that knowledge and truly know what one’s beliefs are and whether they are doctrinally sound. Proper theology does not follow with blind faith but develops a strong faith to use as a background as to why one does believe God and why God is real; theology moves us from knowledge to living out ones faith and “help us be the believing people of God in the world today.”[1]

The major thesis of the book and greatest lessons are that theology is not just about a set of beliefs or doctrines but it is about strengthening the foundations of Christian faith, living out that faith in the identity that God created the Christian to be, and not being satisfied to just know truth but to explain that truth to contemporary culture. The authors remind us that theology is not about us, but about knowing God and being God-centered. The authors describe that theology “results in God being glorified even in believers’ minds themselves. Theological reflection leads to thinking rightly about God as well as about oneself and about the world as a creation under God.”[2]

One of the brightest parts of the book is essentially a step-by-step guide in forming theology. These instructions guide the reader by using the critical and constructive tasks of theology to rely on the proper sources to form ones’ theology. They remind the reader that God’s Word will always be the primary source, with the additional sources being tradition and culture. They share the dangers of starting with the wrong idea first and the repercussions that could lead to by not having a theology that is either relevant or effective.

Reading this book reminded me that our lives are to glorify God in all we do and to seek knowledge where our theology “moves beyond our head to touch our heart and even our hands.”[3] A challenge that is posed to the reader is to create one’s own “integrative motif”. While they selected community, what struck me the most as I read was how the authors reinforced the idea that theology can’t just stay inside of a believer. For a believer’s faith to grow, theology is necessary to know what to believe, to discern false doctrines and to know and please God by knowing Him more. That is why my “integrative motif” for this book and Scripture as a whole is the glory of God, specifically revealed through Christ Jesus our Lord.

[1] Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 94.

[2] Ibid, 48.

[3] Ibid, 46.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Grenz, Stanley, and Roger Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Postmodernism: a definition for the undefined

DEFINING POSTMODERNISM: The subject of this assignment was to create a personal, working definition for Postmodernism. This is part 1. The second part will describe the Christians response to postmodernism.

During one of the most confusing and troubling times in the history of American culture, one of the greatest artists and poets once said, “The times they are a-changin’.” No one will ever mistake Bob Dylan as a prophet but in this song written for the purpose of creating an anthem for change during the civil rights movement, little did he know that those lyrics would apply to the shift that the Western world was undergoing.

Postmodernism is a specific movement of the late-20th-century in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a reaction and a departure from modernism. It was a cultural phenomenon that invaded every facet of academics, including skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism. It is often associated with deconstruction and post-structuralism because its usage as a term gained significant popularity at the same time as twentieth-century post-structural thought.[1] Postmodernism seems to mean anything, everything, and nothing.[2] Alister McGrath says that a full definition of postmodernism is “virtually impossible.”[3] While postmodernism is no longer a major them in the art and architecture worlds, the word “postmodernism” has been applied in different ways now, most specifically in discussions of culture.

Postmodernism can refer to a group of people that have typically been the marginalized or even called “the others.” It is a desire to do justice to the claims of those whom the dominant culture has excluded politically, economically, and (probably not least of all from the postmodern perspective) rhetorically.[4] Postmodernism can also refer loosely to advanced consumer capitalism, in which the prevalence of choice has rendered everything level.[5] But many suggest that postmodernism refers to a “profound skepticism toward modernity’s assumptions about knowledge, truth, and reason.”[6] Jean Lyotard, the French champion of many postmodern themes, said that “postmodernism requires a suspicion of the overarching stories (often called “metanarratives”) that support our claims of truth. Any claim to know truth or any attempt to commend truth to others is likely to be just a power play, they argue, an attempt to impose one’s own metanarrative in the guise of an absolute truth.”[7]

Characteristics of Postmodernism

One of the defining characteristics about postmodernism is its direct opposition to the Modern Era. After the optimistic view of the Modern Era was attacked in the twentieth century by increased wars, violence, turmoil and civil unrest many people became more pessimistic. The world that was once positive and thought that all problems could be fixed or discovered, now had to deal with a world that was falling apart. The postmodern world became weary and more restrained about science and technology because they witnessed what it could do and how it could inflict pain. Brian McLaren states, “9/11 demonstrates the fear of postmodernity with a controlling metanarrative, a controlling big idea, controlling story which has proved to destroy.”[8] In turn, this created a growing cynicism and skepticism about the world around them.

The postmodern world has the fastest rate of change when compared to the two previous era’s, the Pre-Modern and the Modern. The Pre-Modern world basically lasted from 500 BC to 500 AD and had a very gradual rate of change, but during the Mordern Era, also called the Enlightenment Project, which lasted from the 18th to 20th centuries change was very rapid. During the Modern Era, communication tools became more widespread and resulted in a serious growth of information and information sharing. The postmodern world on the other hand is an age where everyone is connected. There is virtually a wealth of information at one’s finger tips. With the abundance of information and rapidity of change, the postmodern world is one that is multi-sensory and experiential.

At the heart of postmodernism is a redefining of truth. While the truth of the Modern Age could be discovered or reasoned in an individual way, truth in the postmodern age is found in community. Truth may be the tradition of the community. Culture has become the garden for growing truth. Whereas culture used to conform to accepted standards of truth, now truth conforms to accepted group culture. The concept of truth can be different because what one community defines as truth may be different from what another defines as truth. There is no longer a single authoritative truth. “This means that there is no one meaning of the world, no transcendent center to reality as a whole.”[9] “Truth is established neither by the correspondence of an assertion with objective reality nor by the internal coherence of the assertions themselves… we should simply give up the search for truth and be content with interpretation.”[10] Since there is not an absolute truth in the postmodern world, truth now comes from sharing and hearing others stories so that some type of truth might be received. Metanarratives can longer be trusted because they are seen as oppressive and controlling. Tim Keller writes, “In this view [denial of truth], all ‘truths’ and ‘facts’ are now in quotation marks. Claims of objective truth are really just a cover-up for a power play. Those who claim to have a story true for all are really just trying to get power for their group over other groups.”[11]

Contrasting Postmodern and Modern

Postmodernism in contrast to the individualistic ways of the Modern Era has a more holistic view of life. It sees that in some way we are all connected. The Modern Era believed that we had unlimited resources and once all those resources are used up, they can be gathered from somewhere else. Whereas the postmodern world is aware of the world’s limited resources. The postmodernist is able to view the side effects of using those resources to make a particular item. In the Modern Era, the world was full of questions and they believed that there was an answer to every question. If they were not able to answer a question it did not trouble that society, because the people believed it gave them reason to live. In a postmodern world, the opposition to the Modern Era is displayed by the knowledge that there will be some unanswered questions because there is more to life than anyone will ever know. The postmodernist is not troubled by the lack of certainty.

One final contrast between the two time periods is the belief in God or a god. During the modern time, there was belief that there may or may not be a God. The overarching metanarrative for that time period was a Christian one. Grenze writes, “evangelicalism is a child of early modernity.”[12] Postmodernism on the other hand, because of the distrust of the metanarrative, Christianity is seen as oppressive and controlling. Although many in postmodernism have an interest in spirituality that relates to the Pre-Modern age.

[1] “Postmodernism,” in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia; (Wikimedia Foundation Inc., updated 20 February 2014, 05:13 UTC) [encyclopedia on-line]; available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism; Internet; retrieved 28 February 2014.

[2] Andy Crouch, “What Exactly is Postmodernism?,” Christianity Today, November 13, 2000, 76.

[3] Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 73.

[4] Crouch, 76.

[5] Ibid, 76.

[6] Ibid, 76.

[7] Ibid, 76.

[8] Brian McLaren, “An Open Letter to Chuck Colson,” A New Kind of Christian, Internet, available from http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000018.html, accessed 28 February 2014.

[9] Stanley Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 4.

[10] Ibid, 4.

[11] Tim Keller, “Preaching Morality in an Amoral Age,” The Resurgence Leadership Journal, Internet, available from http://theresurgence.com/files/pdf/tim_keller_1996-01-01_preaching_morality_in_an_amoral_age, accessed 1 March 2014.

[12] Grenz, 4.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Crouch, Andy. “What Exactly is Postmodernism?” Christianity Today, November 2000.

Grenz, Stanley. A Primer on Postmodernism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Guinness, OS. Fit Bodies, Fat Minds. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

Keller, Tim. “Preaching Morality in an Amoral Age.” The Resurgence Leadership Journal. Internet. Available from http://theresurgence.com/files/pdf/tim_keller_1996-01-01_preaching_morality_in_an_amoral_age, accessed 1 March 2014.

McLaren, Brian. “An Open Letter to Chuck Colson.” A New Kind of Christian. Internet. Available from http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000018.html, accessed 28 February 2014.

McGrath, Alister E.. Christian Theology: An Introduction. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Postmodernism. 20 February 2014, 05:13 UTC. In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Encyclopedia on-line. Available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism. Internet. Retrieved 28 February 2014.

Riley, Jennifer. “Brian McLaren: Postmodern Christianity Understood as Story.” Christian Post. Internet. Available from http://www.christianpost.com/news/brian-mclaren-postmodern-christianity-understood-as-story-31238/, accessed 28 February 2014.

Tozer, A. W.. The Pursuit of God. Harrisburg: Christian, 1958.