Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Reminder About Modernism and the Gospel

Two recent and unrelated event collaborated to remind me of the nature of Modernism as compared to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 First, the recent death of my advisor by suicide (I have not yet decided whether I want to publicly share my thoughts on that subject) has prompted me to investigate memories and thoughts of his, which are no longer available to me through direct contact with him. In doing so I ran across an address of his on modernism, in which he defended (with a bit of unease and qualification) the modernist idea of the autonomous liberal subject.

 Second, I spent this morning watching portions of Paul Tripp's video series on Christian parenting; creating a culture of grace. One of the many important points he stressed in parenting children ages 0-5 was the responsibility of parents to impress upon their children daily the reality that, 1) they do not have the right to determine things for themselves and 2) they are not sufficient in themselves for the things they need. In other words, children must be instructed and trained to acknowledge God's authority of all things.

 If there is anything more destructive to the modern Church than buying into the modernist idea of the autonomous liberal subject, I am hard pressed to discern what it would be. The notion that I, as an autonomous individual, hold within myself all of the rights and requirements necessary for the complete realization of myself and the society in which I choose to live is the precise opposite of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ claims, which is that it is only by living according to God's appointed rights and requirements--by bowing the knee to His power and petitioning His favor for our needs--is where all that is necessary for the complete realization of myself and the society in which God is fashioning His kingdom is found.

 Modernism is the present-day incarnation of Babel, and post-modernism is the present-day equivalent of God's response to Babel--the confusion of our common understanding, the result of which is to scatter us and thwart the power and effectiveness of our self-destructive actions. While post-modernism is by no means an entirely healthy response to modernism, the Church should be thankful for the fact that postmodernism has successfully undermined (at least to whatever extent it has actually done so) the idolatrous and self-destructive system of modernism.

 What remains for the Church is to acknowledge its own complicity in the idolatry of modernism assumptions about the nature and purpose of man and to exhibit the Gospel-drive culture as a light to the western world, which languishes in the malaise of postmodern society that its people so desperately longs to escape from. Where confusion and darkness reign, there the light is most persuasive, most coveted, most desirable to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Christians who "get it" have a hard task, since most of us to some extent have enjoyed the spoiled fruits of a false system. Radical amputation is certainly a good prescription, along with a robust regimen of grace-driven standards and practices. May the Lord open our eyes to the great opportunity before us!