This is the famous line from the 1967 hit movie that older readers will remember, “Cool Hand Luke.” Luke was a convict in a Florida prison camp, played by Paul Newman, who refused to let “The Man” break him and mold his thinking to conform to acceptable thought compliance in the camp. He was made to do meaningless tasks, such as digging a huge hole and then filling it back up in an attempt to make him yield to prison-camp group-think.
I was reminded of this movie during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing and subsequent confirmation to the Supreme Court. The culture today is under intense attack by the left in the same manner, led by academia. They are insisting that we “get our minds right” and conform our thinking to their postmodern thinking. That is we each can create our own reality and we can choose for ourselves our own truth that is the “truth for us.” Absolute, universal truth is out, and they are busily at work demanding that we accept and buy into this way of thinking.
This, of course, flies in the face of basic Christian teaching that tells us Jesus Himself is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14;6). He, and what He said, are “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). It neither has, nor ever will, change.
If you are reading this posting you probably believe that, but many Christians are still in the process of actually learning to transfer that idea from theological theory to live experience. Therefore, we are susceptible to being fooled into postmodern thinking without realizing it.
For example, postmodernism leads us to accept homosexuality as an alternative life-style and gay marriage is perfectly acceptable, if the consenting couples agree that it is. In the postmodern world, there also are no factual, unchangeable, absolute differences, including between the sexes, so gender confusion and transgenderism are perfectly normal feelings and should be accepted, even encouraged, by society.
Christian churches, even solid, orthodox ones, are fuzzy in their understanding of what is happening. They often confuse love with leniency, and they are not the same. Love is recognizing in others (that’s easy!) and in ourselves (no so much so!) any deviation from the biblical standard and calling it sin, not excusing or ignoring it, but loving the sinner unconditionally anyway. On the other hand, leniency is refusing to call the behavior sin, even though the Bible does so, and then confusing that attitude with love, therefore condoning and justifying it. Postmodernism and its lack of absolutes strikes again.
Postmodernism is adverse to the whole idea of absolutes of any kind, and we as Christians are susceptible to this way of thinking as well. A perfect case in point to illustrate this postmodern invasion into Christian thought is our recent investigation into what I have called “Theology for Dummies,” a four-point summary of the theological ideas that form the basis of Christianity. Each has been diluted by postmodernism until the general consensus among Christians today on the meaning of each point is far from historical, reformational thought.
For example, in answering the first point, “What is God like?” most Christians say they believe that God is sovereign, but they balk at the idea that God plans and ordains everything that occurs in His world, not just “allows” it, or “permits” it (Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 135:6; Isaiah 45:7).
Yes, God intentionally causes everything, even sin, playing Satan like a violin to accomplish His eternal purpose. How could a God who is absolutely sovereign not cause everything that happens on the earth? Did He not plan and execute Himself the most heinous sin ever committed, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, to accomplish His great purpose of saving the world?
Can you see that “free-will” is a postmodern construct that allows us to have a say in the ordering of our lives, for, after all, since the Garden of Eden, we now have the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.” We can decide for ourselves what we will do, giving lip-service to “God’s leading” but, of course, always reserving the right to make final decisions ourselves.
“We aren’t puppets, are we?” comes the complaint from all of us who are addicted to the fruit of the forbidden tree in the garden. The answer is, “No, not puppets—that isn’t the biblical word—but we are slaves,” according to Paul in Romans 6:17, 18. “Free will” is a figment of our imagination. We were “slaves of sin,” without a free will but thinking we were completely free, yet doing exactly what Satan determined, Now Paul says we are “slaves of righteousness,” with an absolutely sovereign God constantly at work in our lives to accomplish His will through us.
Postmodern thinking has also influenced our view of Theological Point #2: “What am I like?” We know we are sinners, but not many of us realize the “absolute” nature of that sin as Paul describes it in Romans 3:10-18 “Not even one person is righteous. No one understands. No one searches for God. All have turned away. They have become completely worthless. No one shows kindness, not even one person! Their throats are open graves. With their tongues they deceive. The venom of poisonous snakes is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They run swiftly to shed blood. Ruin and misery characterize their lives. They have not learned the path to peace. They don’t fear God.
Very few Christians really believe that this description perfectly describes all men in their hearts, including themselves, and it is only the mitigating effect of Christianity that has modified their external behavior. We have been influenced by postmodernism and subconsciously jettisoned the reformation concept of absolute depravity, described beautifully by the above verses.
Finally, the third example of postmodernism influencing Christian thought is Theological Point #3: “How do I relate to God?” All genuine believers initially answer that question with, “By grace through faith,” but postmodernism has attacked the intrinsic absolute nature of that statement, too. The result is that believers generally think there was something they did to be saved and then must continue to do in their Christian lives to grow. They “invited Jesus into their hearts,” or “made a decision for Christ,” or “committed themselves to Jesus,” and now must continue in the faith by obeying, reading the Bible, praying, attending church, etc. In other words, God did not absolutely save us at the cross, fully and completely, case closed, but only made it possible for us to save ourselves by doing something—repenting, committing or re-dedicating ourselves, or thinking a new way. He did not “absolutely” save us. We must act in some way to close the deal, i.e., to help God out in our own salvation!
The church is beginning to see through the postmodern lie of “50 shades of gray” to the truth of the Scripture: an absolutely sovereign God came to earth to redeem absolutely sinful man by His absolute grace expressed fully at the cross. It is finished. There is nothing left to do. Only when we realize this do we “have our minds right” and are ready to answer Theological Question #4: “What is my purpose in life?