ad Dei GloriamMinistries

Home > Apologetics > Truth in a Postmodern World

Truth in a Postmodern World An Introduction

This article began as an introductory chapter to our “Can a Believer Lose His or Her Salvation” article (link will be added when article is uploaded), basically to explain what we mean by the terms “believer” or “Christian”.  Prior to the twentieth century, it would have been completely unnecessary since most people, even unbelievers, had a basic understanding of these and other basic terms.  We then realized that in our Postmodern world in which basic terms and concept are fluid at best, the same introduction would be needed for many other articles.  Therefore, we’re making this a standalone article that can be linked from any other article when applicable.

Written June 2024.

Truth in a Postmodern World

What is Postmodernism?

We start with a basic definition, which would actually be contrary the the basic belief of a postmodern, since he or she would typically reject objective definitions in favor of fluid concepts instead.  ScienceDirect defines / describes postmodernism as:

Postmodernism “eschews metanarrative, those sweeping interpretations that totalize human experience in some monolithic way … anything that reflects the past or present ‘hegemony’ of dead white males”.  The postmodern stance “is one of doubtfulness, of trusting nothing at face value, of always looking behind the surface, of upsetting conventional wisdom”.  Influenced by Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis, semiotics, and other theoretical models, it is opposed to a formalist agenda, seeing it as both intellectually fruitless and politically conservative.  As a philosophy, postmodernism rejects concepts of rationality, objectivity, and universal truth.  (bold emphasis added by us).  Instead, it emphasizes the diversity of human experience and multiplicity of perspectives.  In many ways, a postmodernist perspective is well suited to the utilization of photographic records, because it questions traditional notions of truth and the concept that records can have only one possible meaning.

For our ambitious readers who would like to dig deeper, the philosophy of postmodernism entry at the Encyclopedia Britannica is a great start.

For probably the best classic treatment of postmodernism from a Christian perspective, we recommend the 1968 classic book, The God Who is There, from the late, great Dr Francis Schaeffer.  In the book, Dr Schaeffer coined the phrase “line of despair” to describe a line of no return, a line below which rational conversations ended, and below which intelligent communication between two people became impossible.  This was primarily due to the diverging worldviews of the participants and the constant redefining of terms.  The conversationalists were speaking the same language, yet most terms had a different, and even oft-changing meaning.

Dr Schaeffer then traced this descent in historical thinking, beginning with the German philosopher, Georg William Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) who was the first modern thinker who, although he didn’t actually go below the line, he opened the door for others.  According to Dr Schaeffer, the Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was the first one to actually go below the line, leading to the complete disconnection between logic and rationality from faith.  This inevitably led to atheism, since according to the postmodern, there can be no absolute truth, therefore there can be no god, or at least no God as He has self-revealed in the His Word the Bible.  Thus, the postmodern must, against all true reason, must hang on to his rationalism despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Dr Schaeffer also coined another phrase to combat the relative truths in our modern society.  In the distant past, it was enough to say that something was the truth.  Today however, it has devolved into “my truth” has devolved into “my truth and your truth”, thus attempting to make all truth relative.  Incidentally, the popular statement at “all truth is relative” is a self-refuting statement since the statement itself is an absolute claim.  The 1913 Webster Dictionary defines “truth” as “The quality or being true; Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been; or shall be”.  But notice the subtle shift in a modern online dictionary, which reads “a fact or belief that is accepted as true”.  Thus, the definition of truth has changed from something being objectively true to only requiring that something being “accepted” as truth.  Thus Dr Schaeffer coined the phrase “true truth” to distinguish it from the modern accepted definitions.  A few years ago, author and theologian Os Guinness wrote a reflection on Dr Schaeffer and the nature of Truth.

What is a Christian / True Believer?

In our Biblical and Theological Dictionary, we define a Christian as “A true believer in Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and personal Savior, possessing the Holy Spirit and eternal life through saving faith.”  Christianity is defined as the religion founded on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  In addition, a Believer is defined as an individual who, not merely intellectually accepts certain facts about Jesus, but surrenders to his Lordship and trusts and relies on Him for their salvation.

Hyphenated Christianity

We give the above definitions due to the vast ideas regarding Christianity and Christians in a postmodern world.  I’ve heard a few pastors and theologians refer to the language and terms related to modern Christianity as “hyphenated Christianity”.  Due to the extreme diversions in belief in modern times, saying the word “Christian” will produce a great variance of understanding of the term.  In our times, we now have conservative Christians, liberal Christians, evangelistic Christians, and homosexual Christians, just to name a few, and this doesn’t include the various ethnic and racial tags.  I’ve even heard the tag “Christian Atheist” us of those that deny the existence of God, but believe you can live a better life if lived by biblical standards.  I heard an interview a few years back with such a man.  He stated that he and others did not believe in God, yet sent his children to private Christian schools so that they could be happier in life.

In many of our articles, we attempt to give a basic definition of some of the critical terms.  For other terms we suggest that our readers consult an older dictionary, back when words still had widely accepted meaning.  In today’s modern dictionaries, the meaning of many words continue to change, often before the dictionary can get to press.  Our personal favorite is the Webster’s 1913 Dictionary that is available online.

[Top of Page]