ASK AUGUSTINE

Aren’t you wasting your rational appeals to Christianity? Weren’t those arguments more suited to the ages of enlightenment and modernity, instead of the present age of postmodernity?

Indeed postmodernists (those who hold to the belief that truth is relative, that it doesn’t exist in any objective sense but is created rather than discovered) state that rational arguments for the truth of theism are no longer valid. Therefore they advise that Christians should simply share their story, invite people to participate in it and not contend for its singular, objective and absolute Truth.

I believe this sort of thinking is guilty of a disastrous mis-diagnosis of contemporary culture. The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth because a postmodern culture is really impossible. Postmodern people become subjective, relativistic and pluralistic only in matters of religion and ethics. People are not relativistic or postmodern when it comes to matters of science, engineering, technology or even baseball.

Why can’t baseball have a postmodern umpire. Envision a game in which the umpire is from the age of enlightenment. After the umpire objectively and absolutely calls a pitch specifically a strike; the batter asks why was it a strike? Our umpires says, “I calls ’em as I sees ’em.”

Assume the same situation except our umpire is from the age of reason or the modern age. When he’s asked why the pitch was a strike, our umpire objectively and absolutely replies, “Because it specifically crossed the plate, below your arm pits and above your knees.”

Now try to conceive of the third scenario in which we have a postmodern umpire. He could not call the pitch because in postmodern thinking truth is multiple, relative and subjective – so the umpire would have to ask the batter and the pitcher what they would like it to be.

Unfortunately postmodernism intellectuals mistakenly move away from Scripture and Judeo-Christian tradition and embrace subjective decision making. They allow feelings to trump facts. As Rousseau predicted, “Sincerity becomes more important than truth, and feeling more important than reason.”

The majority of Western intellectuals today no longer consider theological knowledge to be possible. They mistakenly maintain that the person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic. The creature, and not the Creator, has the final say on what is right and wrong. When there is no objective standard the basis of action becomes the moral inclination of the individual.

Obviously it is the hope of the postmodernist that Christianity will forego its apologetics (rational arguments) because then Christianity will be reduced to but another voice in a cacophony of competing voices, each sharing its own narrative and none commending itself as the objective truth about reality.

Meanwhile, scientific naturalism will continue to shape our culture’s view of how the world really is. Seen in this light, tailoring our gospel to a postmodern culture is self-defeating. By laying aside our best apologetic weapons of logic and evidence, we ensure postmodernism’s triumph over us.

It is true that the gospel is never heard in isolation. It is always heard against the background of the current cultural milieu; and a person raised in a cultural milieu, in which Christianity is still seen as an intellectually viable option, will display openness to the gospel.

Christians who discount apologetics because “no one comes to faith through intellectual arguments” are tragically shortsighted. While it is an eternal truth that regeneration precedes faith, that it is God alone who first must melt our atheistic hearts before we believe, it is equally true that faith comes by hearing the Truth.

Therefore, it is the task of Christian apologetics, to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women. Christian apologetics gives people the intellectual permission to believe when their hearts are moved.