By Dr. John E. Greever
In our present day, it appears that we are living in a time of radical transition culturally, societally, and historically. This transition has potent moral and spiritual implications. As the church of Jesus Christ seeks to be faithful to the gospel in this generation in the United States, we would do well to understand the unique and special circumstances in which we find ourselves today. Let’s begin with a brief cultural and historical overview.
- Pre-Modern: The pre-modern era of history in the western world was a time that immediately followed the classical period, roughly identified with the Greco-Roman era, ending in the 5th century AD. This period ended with the post-Nicene fathers in the religious world. The Middle Ages (Medieval Period) began in the 5th century running to the 15th century, when the western world and culture began pre-Reformation period in learning and Renaissance development. The major portion of the Renaissance engaged with the pre-Reformation and the Reformation. This was a rebirth of learning and cultural development. The Reformation was a rebirth of the gospel and biblical authority in the church.
- Modern: The modern period began with the Reformation and the Renaissance, both of which are closely tied together. The invention of the printing press in AD 1440 by Gutenberg was a major advancement in learning and cultural development. It was during this period (Modern Period) that the scientific method was born (although some will debate that the scientific method is linked to the period considered here). All the early scientists during this period were Christians. The scientific method was birthed out of the following presuppositions: (1) God created the universe; (2) The universe runs by physical laws, which God created and by which the universe operates in patterns and predictable trends; (3) Science codified the study of the physical universe in methodological systems. As such, the earliest scientists in the modern era held to the Christian faith. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626 England) said,
“There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of Scriptures, which reveal the will of God, then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power.” He said again, “There never was found, in any age of the world, either philosophy, or sect, or religion, or law, or discipline, which did so highly exalt the good of the community and increase private and particular good as the holy Christian faith. Hence, it clearly appears that it was one and the same God that gave the Christian law to men, who gave the laws of nature to the creatures.”
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 Frenchman, Father of Science of Hydrostatics, study of the properties of fluids when under pressure) said, “In Him (Christ) is all our virtue, and all our felicity. Out of Him, there is nothing but sin, misery, error, darkness, death and despair.”
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895 French scientist who developed the process of pasteurization of milk and vaccinations). He said, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. Into his tiniest creatures, God has placed extraordinary properties…” Pasteur, in one of his lectures, said, “Science brings man nearer to God.”
The Rise of Post-modernism
Post Modernism: Post Modernism began as a cultural phenomenon in the western world by the 1960s. At the end of the 20th century post modernism was the dominant philosophical and cultural power in the western world. Essentially Post Modernism denies any absolute transcendent reality. It asserts that the only absolute is that there are no absolutes. This is, of course, inherently contradictary, which results in such philosophical silliness that its implosion was certain and inevitable. Post-modernism characterizes everything as social constructs. This is particularly true in culture and society. Post-modernists state that all belief is simply that which is imposed by the power elite in a social context. When added to Progressivism (the application of Darwinian presupposition to culture and society) Post-modernists insist that we must de-construct all modern beliefs and re-postulate them in accord with another norm or guideline. Of course, Post-modernists have no guideline to suggest other than what THEY THEMSELVES THINK. The result of destroying any conception of objective reality, Post-modernism crafts a perception of reality that is built on subjective thinking, which destroys any base for metaphysical reasoning and moral contemplation. The natural consequence of Post-modernism is Utilitarianism, which requires that we decide “what works” before we can presume to plan for present and future decisions.
Post Modernism incorporates a variety of philosophical errors in its understanding of reality. It incorporates scientism and materialism as its explanation of the meaning and essence of material reality. It adopts evolution and Hegelian dialectics. It borrows despair and meaninglessness from Nietzsche, crafting artificial, individually driven meaning from Existentialism. Post Modernism as a cultural dominant force creates a BIG BLACK HOLE in the hearts of those who embrace it.
The Weaknesses and Insufficiency of Philosophical Post Modernism
- Post-modernism has no inherent integrity as a philosophical system because of its denial of absolute transcendent reality.
- However, Post-modernism seeks to impose its will and belief through power institutions: education, media, and government.
- Post-modernism has declined because it cannot stand up to the rigors and weight of problem solving in the culture; thus, it simply could not work in practical application. This means that Post-modernism was a transitional phase to something else; therefore, it was simply a bridge to further rebellion against God.
What Is Next? The Edenic Wave
So, what is next after Post-modernism?
The new view is utopian in nature; those who hold this view believe they are creating a better society, but they deny God’s Truth in the process and create their own ultimate reality before hoisting their viewpoint on others. The goal of the new view is to replace IDEAS in government, education, and religion; every influential unit of society and culture will be changed in their basic forms. The new view, therefore, will be oppressive and tyrannical in nature. This new view may be called the Edenic Wave, because it makes the same mistakes as were made in the Garden of Eden, and it is moving across the land like a wave of the ocean. This name represents the essential components of the view, which are: 1) Self-deification and 2) Self-determination. The temptation of Eve by Satan in the Garden of Eden composed essentially this: Satan offered to Eve the opportunity to be god and to be self-determined. She would make up her own rules; she would determine right and wrong, and she would determine what is true and false. This is exactly what is going on in the new view and movement. This is the EDENIC WAVE. This is the third cultural wave since Pre-modernity. May God be merciful to us at this time, and may He grant to us wisdom to appropriately resist this new development.
What is the Church to do?
- The church must faithfully hold to, teach, and minister the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the New Testament.
- The church must seek to give authentic demonstration of the life of Christ in and through Christian living. As societal and cultural pressure mounts, people will be hurt and will seek an authentic demonstration of love, joy, and purity. The church must give this to the people.
- The church must be prophetic in its message; therefore, the church must preach truth and righteousness to the culture. This will not be easy, because this will make the church a target.
- Christians individually, not the church organizationally, must seek to be influential in the democratic process of the nation as long as the democratic process exists.
John Greever is a professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University and pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO. He is a part of the leadership team of Founders Midwest and is an occasional speaker at the annual Southern Baptist Founders Conference Midwest. If you would like to more information about the Founders Midwest and the annual Midwest conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.