Archive for May, 2006

Borrowed Authority and “Pomo” problems: Part Two

I noted in my last post, “A pomo does not accept any ideology as objective and consequently authoritative. They will engage in “mutually beneficial dialogues” so long as all involved admit to bringing subjective views which carry no absolute authority. Then, without warning, they borrow authoritative speech to assert their ideas and marginalize opponents for naively believing in objectivity.” For example:

Emerging Parenthood
“Son, I hope you can learn the value of listening to our perspective…our contribution to family dialogue could perhaps offer a fresh look at this moral/ethical matter. Of course, we’re not saying that we are right or that your choices fall short of some fixed standard of wisdom. We just want to continue forging an authentic relationship with you…one of give and take…where we all benefit from each other’s emerging journey”

Emerging Scholastics
“Students, the title of this class, Ethics you can rely on, is perhaps misleading. Our semester objective is to teach…er…uh…suggest that there are basic fixed…I mean…common sense…well—common enough anyway—principles that seem to represent t-t-truths we can use to develop ethical and moral wisdom…wait…not absolute wisdom, but a kind of relationally-validated set of guidelines we might pose as “wise” for authentic living. These objectives will be on the test, and will count as 50% of your semester grade! Does everyone feel they understand the variables for success here?”

Emerging Economics
“Sir, you say that when you agreed to the terms of your loan, you read the contract and accepted the normative, standard meaning of the words used? Well, this is an unfortunate turn of events indeed, because in order for this institution to enjoy an authentic relationship with you we need the freedom to prepare loan contracts with our own personal “story” as a backdrop. It would have been fiscally advantageous for you to become personally familiar with both your loan officers life-narrative and this lender’s emerging history. Perhaps then you would have been closer to a true understanding of the terms of your loan. There is little we can do now, except possibly extend your payment due date another 10 days, 10 being taken to mean a variable number of days chosen to reflect the best possible help in paying your obligation while getting to know us better. Now, would you like to include the required $100.00 overdue charges with your payment today?”

Emerging Nuptials
“Brian and Cheryl, does each of you willingly stand alongside the other, as your always free and therefore authentically changing friend? Will you express your kind of love to each other with the guarantee that neither will take the other at their initial word? Will you seek to learn the other’s peculiarities, while accepting the reality that “learning” means never truly knowing anything for sure? And will you both acknowledge that human relationships can only become authentic when two people realize they can never presume to really understand each other? Lastly, do you both commit to never taking these vows as meaning any one thing at all? Then, by the authority…umm…rather the selection of myself as your conjoiner, I now pronounce that you could be—if you so choose to understand it this way—Brian and Cheryl together for now…an authentic, but always emerging story of two people.”

Emerging Hermeneutics
Don’t even go there…

The point should be obvious…pomo’s should “argue” within the framework of their own epistemology. You’re allowed to assert that I’m not objective, but you forfeit the right to do so with equilateral privilege or authority. See no objectivity, hear no normative meaning, speak no conviction!

Together for the Gospel (PT 1)

I had the privilege to represent my home church (www.fbccarmel.com) at the recent Together for the Gospel conference (T4TG). The event took place in Louisville about 10 minutes away from Southern Seminary. T4TG was hosted by Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and CJ Mahaney. They invited three of their heros (MacArthur, Sproul, and Piper) to join them for this conference. These leaders have an accurate understanding of the evangelical landscape. They know the gospel is constantly under attack from those outside the church and by some within the church as well.
John MacArthur encouraged these leaders to write an official statement affirming what they believe concerning the fundamentals of the faith. I’ve included the opening prologue below:

We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause – to stand together for the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among many who claim the name of Christ. Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the church’s Gospel witness.
As in previous moments of theological and spiritual crisis in the church, we believe that the answer to this confusion and compromise lies in a comprehensive recovery and reaffirmation of the Gospel – and in Christians banding together in Gospel churches that display God’s glory in this fallen world.
We are also brothers united in deep concern for the church and the Gospel. This concern is specifically addressed to certain trends within the church today. We are concerned about the tendency of so many churches to substitute technique for truth, therapy for theology, and management for ministry.
We are also concerned that God’s glorious purpose for Christ’s church is often eclipsed in concern by so many other issues, programs, technologies, and priorities. Furthermore, confusion over crucial questions concerning the authority of the Bible, the meaning of the Gospel, and the nature of truth itself have gravely weakened the church in terms of its witness, its work, and its identity.
We stand together for the Gospel – and for a full and gladdening recovery of the Gospel in the church. We are convinced that such a recovery will be evident in the form of faithful Gospel churches, each bearing faithful witness to the glory of God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2800 pastors and lay leaders joined together in this common affirmation of Christian unity. Of course their are many ungodly ecumenical movements that seek to downplay truth for the sake of so-called peace/unity; this is NOT one of those movements. Nate Busenitz posted some great thoughts on this very issue at http://faithandpractice.blogspot.com/ (see 4/25/06 post). It’s great to see Christians come together with a common faith and a common mission. Despite our disagreements over issues like tongues, believers baptism, eschatology, infant salvation, etc. we do stand together for the gospel.

Borrowed Authority and “Pomo” problems: Part One


Offering a serious critique of the postmodern mind is becoming a bit like learning algebraic theorems. Just when you’ve put your finger on one of the “tenets”, an advocate simply changes a variable and “viola!”, you haven’t quite solved for p. In fact, postmodernism is by definition a system of ever-changing variables as numerous as its adherents. In the hallowed halls of postmodern thought, truly objective knowledge is unattainable. Should anyone dare to imagine that they’ve discovered a kernel of information free of personal subjective bias they are, well in a word, picayune.

One particular frustration of mine is the postmodernist’s (hereafter referred to as “pomo”) very bad habit of defending themselves in utter disregard for their own rules. Allow me to illustrate. A pomo does not accept any ideology as objective and consequently authoritative. They will engage in “mutually beneficial dialogues” so long as all involved admit to bringing subjective views which carry no absolute authority. Then, without warning, they borrow authoritative speech to assert their ideas and marginalize opponents for naively believing in objectivity.

Now listen…if you’re going to be a consistent pomo, you must learn to sleep in the bed you’ve made. Nothing you declare, argue, postulate, defend, or teach as universal is allowed! By your own admission, the views you advance (even those regarding your opponents) are riddled with subjective biases that must be embraced before any “true” ground is gained. You can never “declare” anything as though it were true in any objective sense. Every argument you make is merely a game of wits, accomplishing nothing except to amuse the players. You must never even hint at a proposition with any authority, for you have considered authoritative speech unhealthy. Should you ever teach, please qualify every notion with the statement “this is just my biased opinion and should not be considered important enough to follow”.

(Editor’s note: part two will offer a few examples of this “borrowed authority” trend).

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