We now take up postmodernism’s general tenants two and three: 2). Community is important, but never static, it must always evolve. 3). Reality is perception, and perception is personal not corporate. The reaction against a static community calls for the continual evolution of community. What is considered required, proper, taboo or essential by one generation must give way to more enlightened or more expedient forms of community. In other words, each person in each generation has just as much right as the community at large to determine what is acceptable.
Is such an idea of community novel?
At the end of the Book of Judges, which is the historical record of Israel’s dalliances with apostasy, it was noted, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25 KJV). That’s community evolving; nothing new there. The verse from the Book of Judges corresponds with the fourteenth century B.C.
According to postmodernism, reality is perception, and perception is personal not corporate. In other words, everyone has a right to his own idea of reality whether anyone else likes it or not, and such reality is just as legitimate as the reality of anyone else.
Reality as perception has a deeply sinister side.
As long as one’s perception of reality fits within the parameters of a civilized society, and does no violence against others, it may be considered only strange. Unfortunately, when personal perception of reality is given its full due, it can easily become a vent for the machinations of the darker side of mankind.
This is precisely what happened between Cain and his younger brother Abel. Cain’s perception of reality was that his sacrifice was just as honorable as his brother’s, and when faced with an alternative reality that offended Cain’s sense of what was real, he decided to eliminate the alternate point of view by killing Abel. When perceptions of reality clash, and one proves to be true, the false often seeks revenge whatever it may cost. The Genesis chapter four account easily antedates postmodernism’s notion of perception as reality. Again, nothing new, only more echoes from the past.
The final two of the five general postulates of postmodernism are: 4). Love is acceptance, never judgment. 5). Belief in anything ultimate (especially an ultimate being) is repressive and dangerous (untrue certainty must give way to true uncertainty).
Postmodernism’s position on love is judgment in reverse.
That is, “If you love me you will not judge me, and if you do, then you do not accept me, and therefore cannot love me.” This reverse form of judgment is commonly used by those involved in aberrant lifestyles, particularly sexually connected. So-called partners are brought to meet friends and family members, invited to social gatherings, and paraded before colleagues in a deliberate and provocative attempt to test the quality of love. If objections are raised, the perpetrators are shocked, offended, wounded, and their love suffers a grievous blow. Genuine love, according to this twisted logic is supposed to be evidenced by a valueless acquiescence to any form of offense.
Nevertheless, genuine love is also, by its very nature, intensely concerned with the well being of the one loved. Whenever this element is removed from the equation, love never sums accurately, and the bottom line is usually that the one demanding unconditional acceptance is the one whose love proves to be conditionally based.
Rejection of truth
At the heart of this tenant of postmodernism is an outright rejection of truth, and in order to resist the truth, the practice of reverse judgment becomes necessary. It is in fact, swapping truth for error which really is an old saw. In 760 B.C., Isaiah wrote, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21, 21 KJV). Postmodern thinkers may object to assigning inerrancy to the Book of Isaiah, but they cannot deny that people were thinking along those lines a long time ago!
It is postmodernism’s total rejection of an ultimate being, and zero confidence in certainty that is at the heart of each of the four other general tenants. In fact, the rejection of an ultimate being is what forces all of postmodernism’s other tenants to the surface. Accept the certainty of an ultimate being, and postmodernism suffocates in an instant.
The notion that there is no God, and certainty is untrue, is among history’s most hackneyed themes. No generation has been without proponents of this view. In the Book of Psalms this philosophy is met head on, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1 KJV). “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 53:1 KJV).
The record of history
The record of history will verify that in every society, national or local, whether in a family or in a single person, where there is a rejection of an ultimate being to whom mankind must ultimately give an account, there follows corruption and abominable works with the end results being the death of good. It was so with the Romans, the Nazis, the Communists, and it is so in our own time. One look at the nightly news will confirm this to even the most optimistic skeptic.
It has been demonstrated that postmodernism is hardly modern. It might more accurately be termed “ante-modernism” since its ideas and values flow not from the present, but from the past. It might also be termed “anti-modernism” because if its general tenants were widely adopted anarchy would ensue. Were postmodernism’s five general tenants implemented (for example) as a national policy, there would be no absolutes, no stable community, no corporate reality, no restraints and no ultimate authority.
Deep seated resistance
The real genesis of postmodernism is a deep seated resistance to the idea of control, which springs from a rejection of the idea of an ultimate being who communicates guidance, limits and boundaries. There is a well known proverb which addresses this issue poignantly. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). Vision, comes from a word which has as the contextual meaning “divine communication”. Perish, comes from a word which has as the contextual meaning “to be loosened of restraint”.
Therefore, when society has no Divine guidance, restraint is cast off resulting in varying degrees of social anarchy. Only those poorly schooled in world history need a lesson in how often this has been the case. When given its full stride, such forms of anarchy ultimately destroy the very institutions that once gave it the freedom to resist restraint. There is a narcotic self-consuming cycle to narcissism, which is a fair synonym for postmodernism.
Sophistry is subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation. Postmodernism is a dangerously deceptive form of reasoning, but it is anything but modern or original. It is an echo from the past, and those foolish enough to be lured irretrievably into its web will go down to the grave to hear not just a single echo, but a cacophony of eternal regrets. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25 KJV).
Read Part 1
Dennis D. Frey, M.Div., Th.D., President
Master’s International University of Divinity