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Published by Bot Psalmerna

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Published by: Bot Psalmerna on May 24, 2008
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An Historical Overview
 A pastor, in criticism of my stubborn insistence that the first priorityof the church is to be the ‘pillar and support of the truth’, wrote,‘The Bible does not place a great priority on being right. We are tobe holy and righteous, pure and just. We are to believe, understandand proclaim the truth. But that is not the same as being right.’Welcome to the world of postmodernism, where words don’t mean what they mean, truth is subjective and contradictions in logic areperfectly acceptable. Until we understand that our philosophicalclimate in the Western world has changed, we are going to be bothfrustrated and confused attempting to fulfil the truth mandate asgiven to the church (1 Tim. 3:15). It is therefore of vital importancethat we understand the times in which we live.
 The changing times
We must begin with a broad overview of history and a look at thethree philosophical and religious eras that have dominated West-ern civilization.
During the premodern era, which extended from medieval timesuntil the French Revolution of 1789, the Western world believed inthe supernatural. No one doubted the existence of God (or gods).
THIS LITTLE CHURCH STAYED HOME22Spirits, demons and other beings existed beyond the realm of thesenses; and this spiritual world somehow controlled and dominat-ed life in the physical world. Of course there were many world- views thriving under premodernism. Animism, mythology, Greekphilosophy and Christianity all flourished and battled during thepremodern era, but as diverse as they were all held firmly to a be-lief in some form of a supernatural spirit-world.Biblical Christianity is obviously premodern in this sense.When presenting the gospel it was not necessary to convince peo-ple that spiritual beings or gods existed — everyone believed this.The challenge was to persuade individuals that there was only onetrue God, who sent his Son into the world as the God-man to diefor their sins. In many ways the premodern worldview (which stillexists in numerous places throughout the world) was a more fertileenvironment for the spread of the gospel than either modernism orpostmodernism. One of the criticisms levelled at Christianity dur-ing the last three centuries is that since it is steeped in premodernityit is primitive and foolish. The supernatural carries no regard inmodern thought; therefore, the supernatural had to be jettisonedby the liberal church to gain respectability in Western society. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The foundations of premodernism began to shake a bit with thearrival of first the Renaissance and then the Reformation, but it was the Enlightenment that proved to be its undoing. Influentialphilosophers such as Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) began ques-tioning not only the dogmas of the past but also all sources of authority. By this time the Western world’s authority was to befound primarily either in the church (Roman Catholicism) or inthe Scriptures (Protestantism), or in the case of Islam in the Ko-ran. The architects of the Enlightenment challenged these authori-ties, including the beliefs founded upon them, and offered in theirplace human reasoning. ‘The goal of the “Enlightenment project”… was to free humanity from superstition and found a philosophyand civilization on rational inquiry, empirical evidence and scien-tific discovery. The term “modernism” is often identified with this
 An Historical Overview
23overall project. The modernist vision presupposed the power of rationality to discover truth.’
 The Enlightenment would usher in the age of modernity.Michael Kruger writes, ‘With the rise of the Enlightenment therecame a new guardian of truth to replace the church: science. Nolonger would human beings stand for the irrational musings andarchaic dogmatism of religion — science (with reason as the foun-dation) was the new god, and all intellectual theories had to bowand pay homage in order to be seriously considered. Science viewed Christians as being naively committed to ancient myths,unable to see past their bias and to take an objective and neutrallook at the world. So modernity proffers the idea that mankind,armed with rationalism and science, is able to access absolute truthand make unlimited progress toward a better life for itself. There-fore, at its core, modernity is a celebration of human autonomy.’
 Deism would emerge for those wishing to be both enlightened andreligious. The deist, which many of America’s founding fathersclaimed to be, believed in a God who created the universe andthen walked away. Therefore a God could exist, even be worshi-ped, and at the same time human reason would become the finalauthority.Some have conjectured that while the roots of modernity wereevident many years before, the actual birth of modernism was in1789 at the fall of the Bastille in France during the French Revolu-tion. Gene Edward Veith reasons, ‘The French Revolution exem-plifies the triumph of the Enlightenment. With the destruction of the Bastille, the prison in which the monarchy jailed its politicalprisoners, the pre-modern world with its feudal loyalties and spir-itual hierarchies was guillotined. The revolutionaries exalted theRights of Man. They dismissed Christianity as a relic of the past.During the course of the revolution, they installed the Goddess of Reason in Notre Dame Cathedral.’
 As with all worldviews, except the biblical one, modernity would ultimately disappoint. People became disenchanted withreason and science, as neither was able to deliver on their prom-ises to solve all human problems and reshape society into utopia.So disappointed did the Western world became with modernismthat it finally breathed its last and has been pronounced dead. The

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