Saturday, February 21, 2004

Al Mohler on Post-Modern Evangelicals...

Check Al Mohler's post, Here Come the Post-Evangelicals, for an excellent commentary on Post-Modern Post-Evangelicals. He reviews a book by Dave Tomlinson titled, The Post-Evangelical. Here's an excerpt from Mohler's post:
The foundational issues for Tomlinson are cultural and philosophical. He is absolutely convinced that the emergence of a postmodern worldview requires Christians to make a fundamental shift in the way we conceive the Christian faith and the best means of communicating Christian truth. "Post-modernity," argues Tomlinson, "has become the new context in which the integrity and credibility of [the faith] must be tested." Rather than critiquing post-modernism, Tomlinson and his allies openly embrace this new worldview. Post-evangelicals, he argues, "are more comfortable with the mysteries, ambiguities, and paradoxes of faith," and are thus quite at home in the postmodern milieu.
This has been the basis of my arguments against PoMo Christianity. I have posited that the post-modern philosophy is not one to be embraced but rejected, and that the Em-Church fad seemed to be too focused on the experiential aspect. Mohler continues:
The evangelicals "are lodged in a cultural time-warp," Tomlinson accuses, "still interpreting their faith using the language of, and in the shadow of, the modernist 'big story'." According to Tomlinson, the post-evangelicals have escaped this trap and no longer try to present the Gospel as a meta-narrative or comprehensive truth claim. At this point the true contours of post-evangelical thought become clear. For traditional evangelicals, he asserts, "truth is rarely seen as problematic." As Tomlinson explains, post-evangelicals "feel uneasy with such a cut-and-dry approach and find themselves instinctively drawn towards a more relative understanding of truth." This "more relative understanding of truth" includes an open rejection of absolute truth or the appropriateness of expressing truth claims in propositional forms. According to Tomlinson, "post-evangelicals are less inclined to look for truth and propositional statements in old moral certainties and more likely to seek it in symbols, ambiguities, and situational judgment." How convenient. The post-evangelicals envision a Christianity free from all claims of absolute and comprehensive truth, liberated from the Bible's restrictive moral commands, and severed from awkward claims of revealed truth.
This is truly an unfortunate situation we seem to find ourselves in now isn't it? If Tomlinson is correct in that we can no longer expect to find propositional truth but must now rely on a relativistic understanding of truth, then what we have done is simply painted ourselves into a corner. We're left with two unacceptable options:
1) We cannot accept Tomlinson's assertion that there are no propositional statements because his assertion is in itself a propositional statement. 2) Yet if we do accept the assertion that truth is relative, then we're left standing with an assertion that, by definition, has no meaning.
Why is this so difficult for post-moderns to see? They proclaim from the mountaintop that "the meta-narratives of the past are no longer comprehensive truth claims!" Yet they ignore the footnote at the bottom of the page which reminds us that their very proclamation is a meta-narrative. For further analysis of propositional revelation I suggest you read Ron Nash' The Word of God and The Mind of Man. In it he argues that the Evangelical push away from Reason and towards Experience actually began with people like Kant and Hume.

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