July 31, 2019 (Transcript)
To answer the questions—what is the nature of the Bible and how is it relevant today?—let’s first look at the common viewpoint of truth and authority today.
The last 100+ years of Western philosophy has shifted how a person sees the world and interprets reality. What Christians often hear today from people around them is not so much radical atheism—though that certainly is still alive and kicking—but rather a new form of spiritualism tied to individual wisdom and desire—“that’s true for you, but that’s not true for me.” Why is this response so common? Postmodernism.
Postmodernism is the worldly wisdom of our age. Postmodern philosophy has rightly rejected modernism and modernism’s argument for human reason as the foundation for truth and knowledge. The term “postmodernism” began in architecture in the 1930s and but this philosophical movement was really born out of the 20thcentury study of language and linguistics. Men like Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucalt argued that all people are subjects of their time, place, and culture. No one can claim objective truth, truth that supersedes culture and history, because everyone is biased by their own culture, place, and time. This biased view of the world is expressed in all of us, first and foremost, in the use of language. Knowledge and language is power, and are the means by which a person oppresses or imposes their will on someone else. The following point is crucial to understanding our Postmodern culture today: language itself doesn’t picture or mirror reality as it is. Rather you use language to shape and determine reality.
Now, that may all be confusing, but we see these beliefs playing themselves out in everyday life. For example, this philosophy forms the foundation for the modern transgender movement. How can a biological male be a woman? Most people reject this idea as nonsensical, but what postmodernism has done is argued that your use of male/female language is something you’ve constructed. Your use of male/female distinctions don’t correspond to reality, rather, your use of language is something you’ve used to oppress other people who don’t identify with your binary categories. So what does the transgender community do? They use language as a means to determine and construct their own reality as it pertains to gender and sexuality. If gender is a social construct, why can’t a man call himself a woman even if it doesn’t correspond to his biological realities? A man identifying as a woman is forcing you through language to conform to his construction of reality.
As Christians, it shouldn’t surprise us that the unbelieving world sees language as powerful and authoritative. God is the Ultimate Author of reality. God created the universe through His speech. God saves and redeems through His Word. Postmodernism understands the power of language, but postmodernism is just another form of idolatry. Postmodernism rejects God as Author and replaces Him with human authors writing and constructing their own realities. What people need today isn’t an appeal to their own reason—human reason can be, and is often, wrong. What people need today is revelation from God Himself. We can’t see the world rightly because of sin, so we need God to reveal Himself to us, how He has created the world, and how we are to live in light of His revelation in the Bible.
Despite the claims today, people can know universal truth because we’ve been given a God’s-eye view of the universe in the Word of God. When reading the Bible on its own terms and in its own categories, we see how God has acted in human history. But the Bible doesn’t simply record God’s actions in history. The Bible also gives us God’s interpretation of His actions in history so that we’re not left in the dark, guessing about His purposes in the world or how to live. Psalm 119:105—“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We’re finite and sinful people. We need God to reveal Himself to us so that we might know Him and His salvation in Christ. Because the Bible is God’s revelation, it is completely authoritative and true in all matters to which it speaks. In Scripture, we see that God is there and He is not silent.
Going back to the example of postmodernism and the transgender movement, Christians can lovingly and graciously reject these false ideas and provide others hope because God has revealed that He created humanity in his image—male and female. God’s revelation, not our own construction, is what determines human sexuality, gender identity, and marriage. As Christians, we were brought out of darkness and into the light by God’s Word so that we can know God and share His revelation and His gospel with everyone around us.