Will We Ever Return to Pre-Modernism?

We’ve lived in a world no longer black and white for a long time now. From politics to religion we live in a world of every shade of gray. We slide deeper into the gray each and every year.

As evidence I need only to read the papers of the college students I teach. This year I took particular note. I gave the class an assignment to react to an article pointing out why one denomination was “right” and another one was “wrong.”

Wow, did I get some interesting reactions. More than ever in the past I had students angry at the author of the article. How could he judge another person’s theology? How could he judge my religion?

Even those that agreed with the author said things like, “Even though I practice the author’s religion, I respect other people for their beliefs.” There is no line drawn, no recognition of absolutes, no black and white. Have we become too tolerant?

In her book, Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, Marva Dawn uses a baseball analogy to show how postmodernism works:

A pre-modern umpire once said, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I calls’ em as they is.” Believing in absolute truth that could be found, earlier societies looked for evidence to discover that truth. A modern umpire would say instead, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I calls’em as I sees’ em.” For the modernist truth is to be found in ones own experience.

Now a postmodernist would say, There’s balls and there’s strikes, and they ain’t nothin’till I calls’em.” No truth exists unless we create it.”

Even students from a conservative, Christian university straddle the fence between modernism and post-modernism. What will happen when absolutely everything is tolerated?  I fear that it will not end well.

There’s a reason that Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” He Himself is the dividing line between life and death, sin and forgiveness, black and white. And, as intolerant as it may sound, there are absolutes in life. They begin and end with God’s own Word…and with His Word made flesh.

Will pre-modernism ever make a return? Would you want it to? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 thoughts on “Will We Ever Return to Pre-Modernism?

  1. You ask, "What will happen when absolutely everything is tolerated?"

    I think the answer is, "There will never be a time when absolutely everything is tolerated." Instead, there will simply be an intensification of the situation that exists now: some things will be accepted and promoted, and other things particularly those which contradict or oppose the accepted things will be confronted with increasing ferocity.

    The only substantive differences between the ostensibly "tolerant" and the ostensibly "intolerant" are and will increasingly be the values, ethics and morals they either "tolerate" or refuse to "tolerate." The ostensibly "tolerant" simply accept and promote things that were and are opposed by more traditionally-minded people, and oppose the more traditional values, ethics and morals.

    The only things that will change are the values, etc. which were previously unaccepted by most people, but which the "tolerant" will drag into the open and demand be accepted and promoted by all people, and the increasing viciousness with which the "tolerant" will persecute the people who obstinately remain "intolerant" and refuse to accept and promote those things.

  2. Interesting thoughts today, Pastor. One question that I have is that when I was growing up, the strike zone was nips to knees. I did not watch the umps closely in those days, but now, ever ump has a different strike zone. I have also heard at least one story where an ump changed adjusted his zone during a game because he said that he was off. Hasn't it always been black and white depending on who is calling the balls and strikes?

      • If a person has a belief that is not It depends on who you are raised by and what the norms and mores of their upbringing are. If that is what they have been taught, then they may believe is true until confronted with the truth and undeniable evidence. Unfortunatly, there are some people that never back of a wrong position.

  3. Here's one problem I see: The message of "it's all relative" is repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated in schools (and the Lutheran grade schools and high schools, even our colleges are no exception), in music, on television, on the internet, and elsewhere. They hear relativism in all of its forms from their favorite teachers, actors, musicians, youth ministers, pastors, you name it.

    And if you look at how most people under the age of 25 spend their time, money, and energy, the overwhelming majority of it falls under education and entertainment. They are wholly immersed in relativity. And even if you're a Pre-Sem or Theology major, you write down "truth is relative" in your papers because that's been the right answer for the last 6+ years, and you don't start to catch yourself doing this until you've taken a few electives with Angus Menuge your sophomore year.

    No, I'm not speaking from experience on this topic. 😉

    So at an individual level, it's a matter of getting that person straightened out. It can be done. But if we're looking more broadly at society / culture, the question I ponder is this: What's it going to take to tear down Post-Modernism?

    What did it take for society to realize that the promises of Modernism were empty?