Pragmatism and Postmodernism


by Mike Ratliff

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28 NASB)

Postmodernism : A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

Postmodernism is “post” because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characteristic of the so-called “modern” mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning. As the philosopher Richard Tarnas states, postmodernism “cannot on its own principles ultimately justify itself any more than can the various metaphysical overviews against which the postmodern mind has defined itself.” – From Faith and Reason

Pragmatism:
Function:
noun
Date:
circa 1864

1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs <tried to strike a balance between principles and pragmatism> 2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

Postmodernism is a term that that was claimed by the Emergent Church movement. Even though the Emergent Church movement has been absorbed into other movements such as the Social Justice and WOKE movements, this philosophy in the first part of the 21st Century has come to dominate Western thinking. In each area of thought within it we find that, invariably, pragmatism is its root. Pragmatic philosophy says that everything is relative because ultimate, transcendent truth does not exist. This makes reasoning with a pragmatist extremely frustrating. Also, there are moral and absolute standards in our society that are continually under attack and, seemingly, are crumbling under our feet all around us. The culprit behind this is Pragmatic philosophy coupled with postmodernist thinking.  Continue reading

The post-modern golden calf


by Mike Ratliff

1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NASB) 

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4 (NASB)

Those familiar with the Exodus of Israel from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan know that the journey was long and arduous. Only two men from those who left Egypt made it through the journey. The rest died on the way including Moses. Their children were those whom Joshua led to conquer and claim the land flowing with milk and honey. God tested them in the wilderness. They were put in circumstance after circumstance by God to see if they would repent of their stiff-necked resistance to His Lordship, and time after time they proved that they were temporal, fleshly people who did not trust Him. In this post we will look at a parallel between one of those circumstances and the condition of the Church in the early 21st Century. Continue reading

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?


by Mike Ratliff

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Romans 1:26-27 NASB)

The Postmodern paradigm sees, “… affirming gays as liberating them from their oppressors…” This postmodern mindset is deeply engrained in what is known as Emergence Christianity. This is why its leaders nearly all line up and stand with their “gay friends” in support and do not attempt to get them to repent of their sin because they actually believe that a person can be a practicing homosexual and a good Christian at the same time. Well, actually, I do understand what they are saying and I do understand the underlying compassion that leads them to this, but there comes a point as Christians when we cannot cross certain lines. What God calls sin is sin regardless of how we or anyone else “feels” about it. What does God’s word say about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God? Continue reading

Cause and Effect


by Mike Ratliff

I have been in a fascinating discussion today with members of our discernment team at CRN. It brought back a lot of memories of those early days of this ministry when those wounds and bruises from the battle at our former church over whether it should go Purpose Driven or not were still very evident along with the inherent resentments over how our supposed brothers and sisters in Christ simply brushed us aside not caring that we left since we would not conform to the PDC takeover. From that I learned much. I became determined to find the smoking gun, the mechanisms behind what makes the PDC paradigm and Rick Warren seem so monolithic and impossible to resist while at the same time, so shallow and unbiblical and able to sidestep nearly every very direct and valid doctrinal issue about his theology, ecclesiology, and epistemology. On these issues, he has been like the “Teflon Don,” able to deflect and seem untouchable no matter how well we show what he says and writes is questionable at best when lined up with Christian doctrine.  Continue reading

Those Who Practice Homosexuality Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God


by Mike Ratliff

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27 ESV)

My friend Ken Silva told me this evening that the Postmodern paradigm sees, “… affirming gays as liberating them from their oppressors…” This postmodern mindset is deeply engrained in what is known as Emergence Christianity. This is why its leaders nearly all line up and stand with their “gay friends” in support and do not attempt to get them to repent of their sin because they actually believe that a person can be a practicing homosexual and a good Christian at the same time. Well, actually, I do understand what they are saying and I do understand the underlying compassion that leads them to this, but there comes a point as Christians when we cannot cross certain lines. What God calls sin is sin regardless of how we or anyone else “feels” about it. What does God’s word say about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God? Continue reading

The Post-Modern Zeitgeist


by Mike Ratliff

I previewed a movie today that had the simple title, “Zeitgeist.” Before I give you my impression of it, let’s define what the term “Zeitgeist” means. My Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1983, defines “Zeitgeist” as, “the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.” That sounds innocuous enough doesn’t it? However, after I started viewing the film, I became aghast, as it was a direct attack against God, our Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian religion. The narrator came across as one deriding all religion, but the focus of Part I of the film was to present Christianity as a form of Astrology and Man as a product of evolution. Continue reading

Meditations After a Monday at Barnes & Noble


by John Piper

A trip to Barnes & Noble on my day off takes me beyond the Star Tribune and NPR in my daily culture dose of postmodern pronouncements. Consider Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation(Knopf, 2006). It is ranked as the fourteenth best seller in the nation at Amazon as I write (just behind Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion). It begins like this:

Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.

Later he says that not believing that man evolved from lower life forms is like not believing the sun is a star. Our nation is being overrun with anti-intellectual people who scoff at true science. The Intelligent Design movement is a scheme to replace science with religion by people who get PhDs to provide a cloak of respectability for their anti-science agenda. And so on. Continue reading