05 April 2008

Some Counsel for People Confused by Postmodernism

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "The Anchor," a sermon first delivered in the morning service on 21 May 1876 at the Met Tab.




f it could be proved to be, as certain cultivated teachers would have us believe, that there is nothing very sure, that although black is black it is not very black, and though white is white it is not very white, and from certain standpoints no doubt black is white and white is black, if it could be proved, I say, that there are no eternal verities, no divine certainties, no infallible truths, then might we willingly surrender what we know or think we know, and wander about on the ocean of speculation, the waifs and strays of mere opinion.

But while we have the truth, taught to our very souls by the Holy Ghost, we cannot drift from it, nor will we though men count us fools for our stedfastness.

Brethren, aspire not to the "charity" which grows out of uncertainty; there are saving truths and there are "damnable heresies"; Jesus Christ is not yea and nay; his gospel is not a cunning mixture of the gall of hell and the honey of heaven, flavoured to the taste of bad and good. There are fixed principles and revealed facts. Those who know anything experientially about divine things have cast their anchor down, and as they heard the chain running out, they joyfully said, "This I know, and have believed. In this truth I stand fast and immovable. Blow winds and crack your cheeks, you will never move me from this anchorage: whatsoever I have attained by the teaching of the Spirit, I will hold fast as long as I live."

C. H. Spurgeon


53 comments:

Preson said...

Amazing super duper fantabulous post AS ALWAYS.

steve said...

Because Spurgeon was firmly anchored in the timeless counsel of God's Word, his own counsel will likewise remain timeless.

Whereas the counsel of Spurgeon's contemporaries who were caught up in modernist thinking is long gone, as chaff in the wind.

It's stunning to watch history repeat itself before our very eyes.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"...aspire not to the "charity" which grows out of uncertainty."

Nailed it! It is the misbegotten notion that hard truth is inherently "uncharitable" that is the cause of so much mischief today. So we show "love" by fuzzing up the truth.

It's like the surgeon who, if you don't like the idea of being cut open, will touch up your X-rays instead, and announce that, "All is well."

The Spokesman said...

Wow! Great counsel from Spurgeon! A man who was anchored in the truth of God's Word and wasn't "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming."

Just the opposite counsel coming from the "Postmodern Reformers". Their idea of reformation has nothing to do with becoming reoriented to the truth of God's Word but instead is geared toward drifting on the sea of uncertainty and then calling that, "Progress." It is a departure from the Word of God disguised as a reformation. If what is being called reformation is not reoriented and always reorienting to the Word of God, then it should be shunned as drifting - see Ephesians 4:14.

Grace and peace
Olan

RememberPolycarp said...

Clarification indeed! How wonderfully refreshing it is to hear declarations of an uncompromised stance on the Truth of God's Word expressed with such exactness and clarity! What vast wisdom in such a short bit of text! Oh, I would hope that every emerging, budding heretic and apostate--fueled by the spirit of this age in unbridled rebellion against the Lord of hosts--would read and take to heart these words of counsel before they would allow their doctrines of demons to come into full fruition! No, there is little chance of this happening I'm afraid, as there is much more evidence to the contrary. They continually blind their own eyes and deceive themselves through their own wordplay. The weeds of emerging liberalism in the garden of the believing church are taking hold rapidly, as there is hardly a square foot of it any longer in which the once beautiful and maintained varities of plant and flower are not entirely surrounded by the weeds of darkness.

Strong Tower said...

But, that was a century ago, many things have change since then. We know better!

One of the problems today is that many people see the anchor, detach it from the ship and toss it over, then say, see, that anchor was no good after all.

Robert N. Landrum said...

"Truth may be opposed, but never quite deposed....Take away truth and our faith is fancy" (Thomas Watson, Heaven Taken by Storm Pg.7,8).

donsands said...

"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me." -Luther

I thought of these words from Martin Luther as I read this powerful words from Charles Spurgeon.

Once again, thenks for sharing the prince of preachers wisdom. Timely wisdom.
It edifies the soul. And the Lord knows we need building up in this day smooth and seemingly lovely teachers within the Body of Christ.

Stefan said...

Johnny Dialectic:

Brilliant analogy, re the x-rays!

Spurgeon stands on the sure and certain word of God, but you had men like Matthew Arnold writing stuff like this:

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another!
     for the world, which seems
To lie before us
     like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy,
     nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace,
     nor help for pain;
And we are here
     as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms
     of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies
     clash by night.


Once you cut loose the anchor (or never cast it in the first place), what is there to stand upon?

And still today, many people are drowning, treading water in the wake of the anchorless Ship of Enlightened Doubt.

Stefan said...

(Dover Beach, 1867)

To carry the metaphor further, the preceding stanza mentions how the Sea of Faith, once high with the spring tide, was now at a low ebb (to paraphrase).

Bryan Riley said...

Great statement by Spurgeon!!!

I haven't met many Christian people who have said hard truth is inherently uncharitable. I have only found those who acknowledge that many of God's ways are difficult to understand and they graciously accept people with regard to disputable matters. Even Spurgeon here seems to be pointing to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which, by my reckoning, is the good news that Jesus, God's Son, who didn't deserve death because he had no sin, unlike us, died for us, conquered death, and gives us the opportunity for eternal life by trusting in His provision/His gift. It is all a gift, all grace, and all we must do is confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead (in essence accept the gift of faith in Him). I dont' think he's telling us that we must have hard and fast, exact beliefs on all matters.

That good news about Jesus is solid truth, unchangeable and unarguable, and we will cling to that in love even if it offends. It seems some of the commenters here keep throwing huge groups of people (anyone they label postmodern) under the bus.

The Spokesman said...

Bryan Riley: "I haven't met many Christian people who have said hard truth is inherently uncharitable." And, "It seems some of the commenters here keep throwing huge groups of people (anyone they label postmodern) under the bus."

No, they don't say that hard truth is inherently uncharitable; they only call those who speak it uncharitable!

Grace and peace,
Olan

Bryan Riley said...

Who are they, Olan?

And, what truth have you spoken that is hard and for speaking of which you have been called unloving?

The Doulos said...

Once again, the Prince of Preachers has spoken words that sound as if they were said today. Or as if they should be said today.

The Spokesman said...

Bryan,

They” are you. You are the one who calls those who speak hard truth, “uncharitable” – unless of course you believe that “throwing huge groups of people (anyone they label postmodern) under the bus” is charity!

Your assumption is implied – anyone labeling someone else “postmodern” isn’t speaking hard truth but is rather either speaking lies or at least dealing in an area of uncertainty.

Can we know for sure if “postmodern movements” are “a cunning mixture of the gall of hell and the honey of heaven, flavoured to the taste of bad and good”? Thank God the answer is yes! We can be certain of the spirit of truth and the spirit of error!

Some making comments here and labeling others as postmodern are certain of the poison contained in the doctrine. Is it unloving to label poison?

Spurgeon said, “Brethren, aspire not to the “charity” which grows out of uncertainty….” You said, I have only found those who acknowledge that many of God’s ways are difficult to understand and they graciously (with charity) accept people with regard to disputable matters (those which grow out of uncertainty)(interpretation in parentheses mine).

There are fixed principles and revealed facts. Those who know anything experientially about divine things have cast their anchor down, and as they heard the chain running out, they joyfully said, "This I know, and have believed. In this truth I stand fast and immovable. Blow winds and crack your cheeks, you will never move me from this anchorage: whatsoever I have attained by the teaching of the Spirit, I will hold fast as long as I live." Today’s postmodern movements are apostate movements based on philosophy rather than theology!

BR: "And, what truth have you spoken that is hard and for speaking of which you have been called unloving?" Red Herring !

Grace and peace,
Olan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Brian Riley: "It seems some of the commenters here keep throwing huge groups of people (anyone they label postmodern) under the bus."

Are you referring to Spurgeon, the TeamPyro Trio, RememberPolyCarp, Olan, myself, and others in your statement above?

Are you throwing us under the bus?

Bryan Riley said...

Truth Unites,

I don't know who I am throwing under the bus. I'm not attempting to do so to anyone. I'm commenting to the appearance of statements like:

"Just the opposite counsel coming from the "Postmodern Reformers". Their idea of reformation has nothing to do with becoming reoriented to the truth of God's Word but instead is geared toward drifting on the sea of uncertainty and then calling that, "Progress."

I don't know who all is included in the label above, but I now know it includes me, not that that matters, but it is claiming that an entire group of people are opposed to truth. It is a general statement of condemnation - not conviction or edification. When I ask what truths to which they (now we) are opposed, I am not given any answer other than that I am fallacious in my questioning. When the Holy Spirit convicts, he convicts specifically with the goal to correct and move to repentance and thus reconciliation with the Father. When the enemy condemns, he does so to keep humanity in a mire of self-condemnation and apart from God.

Now, I stopped with that one quote because I wanted to talk about it and how it made me feel, but there are a number of times where I have seen chest bumping over statemetns like "all of them," or "those pomos" (which ironically?! rhymes with homos, and then a bunch of negative statements about an undefined group of people. That is a negative judgment and stereotyping of what appear to be huge groups of people in the minds of the authors of such statements and I am trying to determine moer about the statements.

So, I commented on what I observed here on this site. If it speaks to you, then ask God to search your heart about it. I can't tell you who receives it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

the spokesman Olan: "Just the opposite counsel coming from the "Postmodern Reformers". Their idea of reformation has nothing to do with becoming reoriented to the truth of God's Word but instead is geared toward drifting on the sea of uncertainty and then calling that, "Progress."

Brian Riley: "I don't know who all is included in the label above, but I now know it includes me, not that that matters, but it is claiming that an entire group of people are opposed to truth. It is a general statement of condemnation - not conviction or edification."

(1) Brian, you say that the label of Postmodern Reformer fits you. As you know Olan describes one facet of his term Postmodern Reformer. You say that that doesn't describe you.

Okay. Could you then please tell me how you define the term Postmodern Reformer and how you self-identify with this term?

(2) Brian, your first statement says entire group of people. Your second statement says that it's a general statement. "Entire" is not the same as "general". Or do you think that "entire" means the same thing as "general"?

You might consider searching your own heart about whether you're being judgmental as a self-identified Postmodern Reformer.

Bryan Riley said...

TU,

When I said I now know it includes me in Olan's mind I was saying that because he said "they are you." i was not saying I was a postmodern reformer. I don't even know what that means. It means little to me. I was saying that Olan had called me a they. I don't know what he means and he has refused to respond to my questions by calling them a red herring.

As I've said many times before, often the problem we face as humans is that when one person sins (is unloving), we react to them in the exact same spirit. God calls us as His followers to walk in the opposite spirit. So, when someone is judgmental, we often find ourselves reacting judgmentally, but we are called to love.

Now, I may have done that here, but I don't believe I did. I pointed to a specific word from someone else and told you how it made me feel. I was just stating facts. The fact of the words someone said and then the fact as to how those words made me feel. I didn't say that the feelings were justified or that the speaker was bad. I just said that those words were generalizations about groups of people - a label - an easy way to prejudge people without knowing them or loving them.

So, I can say honestly that I love Olan. he is a gifted man who loves God's word and who, it appears, is seeking the truth of God. May He grow in the knowledge of Who God is.

As to your second point, I'm not sure I understand the fine point you are making. Entire was modifying group. General was modifying statement. How is that problematic??

The Spokesman said...

Bryan Riley: "I'm commenting to the appearance of statements like:"

John 7:24: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

BR: "It is claiming that an entire group of people are opposed to truth."

Do you mean like: "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees"?

BR: "When I ask what truths to which they (now we) are opposed, I am not given any answer other than that I am fallacious in my questioning."

You lie! You didn't ask that question, you asked this one: "And, what truth have you spoken that is hard and for speaking of which you have been called unloving?" It is fallacious and is a Red Herring - I never claimed anywhere that I had spoken a hard truth about which "they" had called me unloving.

BR: When the Holy Spirit convicts, he convicts specifically with the goal to correct and move to repentance and thus reconciliation with the Father.

Acts 5:32: "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."

BR: When the enemy condemns, he does so to keep humanity in a mire of self-condemnation and apart from God.

Acts 5:33: "But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them."

Question to BR: Some making comments here and labeling others as postmodern are certain of the poison contained in the doctrine. Is it unloving to label poison?

Grace and peace,
Olan

Bryan Riley said...

Olan,

I think this discussion shows the danger of making Christianity a religion of words. I must be the world's worst user of the English language because what you are hearing when you read my words is a brutalizing of what I think I've said when I write what I write. And, what's amazing is that we are speaking the same language at the same time. When we are trying to understand the gospels and epistles we are dealing with translations and cultural contexts and more.

Anyway, I digress. I can't really respond to what you've said, not because I cannot do so, but because to do so seems fruitless. you've now called me a they and a liar. What am I to do with that when i haven't lied and I still don't know who they are?

We've so lost touch with what has been intended I can't rehab it with more words.

Nevertheless, I will try to change the subject to what I've written on the Coffee Klatsch post as I am not sure you've read them and I am interested, Olan, in your thoughts on them.

I wrote:

To all, (and thank you Strong Tower for answering my questions!):

We are called to be Christ's representatives here on earth and the purpose of that is to minister reconciliation - what reconciliation? - the opportunity to introduce people to Jesus and the good news of the Kingdom - reconciling men to the Father through the saving blood of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.

And, we know through the teachings of Jesus that men can know who He is through the unity of those who follow Him. John 17. We also know that people will know we are Jesus' disciples by our love for one another. John 13:34. In other words, the way people will be attracted to Jesus is by seeing Jesus in us, working through us, to give us love for one another and a unity together in Jesus.

it seems to me that all of our writing, our blogging, our living, our talking, our doing should be about reconciling men to the Father, exhibiting the love of God toward one another, always endeavoring to build one another up and call one another to a life of repentance, freely forgiving one another, and walking in love and grace AND truth.

Now, how do I feel about my short time commenting here on Pyromaniacs? I feel like I've come to a town of Christian men who all see things generally in the same way. And, when they talk about how they see it they like to chest bump and high five about how well they've said it around a cup of java (or do some have brew at the pub?). They are highly intelligent and seem like a fun group of guys. It would be lovely to have a monday night football party with them. I definitely would have fit in a few years ago, but today i have a slightly different paradigm and, dare I say, hermeneutic. Because of that I sometimes question things that our said. Immediately, I feel like I'm the guy who gets picked up in the town center, put on the train, and railroaded out of town.

Now, if we are trying to be iron sharpening iron and if we truly want to have discussions and draw men and women to the Father, wouldn't we rather have some people who question things, flesh things out, etc.? And, not just so we can bludgeon and prove our incredible apologetic (argumentative) skills? Wouldn't it be better if we were truly trying to build one another up?

Perhaps you are trying to do so, but I can tell you that from my point of view, the way I feel, I feel very unwelcomed here. I feel like some would rather me take my thoughts elsewhere.

Any thoughts on this??

Bryan Riley said...

Olan,

As to your question about poison - I do want to answer it. I'd also like to know what you consider to be poison (1) in anything I've said and (2) in postmodernism as you believe postmodernism is (can you provide me your definition of these labels you use so freely so that I can understand?! and then tell me why "they" are wrong).

Clearly, if something is poison, it absolutely is loving to label it as such. Why ask me such a silly question? There is a right answer. :) (Perhaps that means I'm not post-modern in your mind - i believe in truth - lol). I think you hope to teach me, but it seems a bit condescending in this context.

The better question for me is, am I mislabeling? Have I decided something as truth and anything less than that is poison when such a decision is wrong?

Did the Pharisees adn Saducees mislabel? I absolutely agree that Jesus lumped them together, but they were all of one mind as to the law and their writings. I don't know what, if anything, a group of people you label as Postmodern are of one mind about. I don't even know if I am postmodern. Perhaps by saying that you would believe that I certainly am (because I admit I don't know?? - that's another question).

LeeC said...

When my pastor came to this church 50% of the membership left, the most common complaint I heard (I was not attending here at the time) is that he is "Unloving". His crime? he preaches the Word faithfully and refuses to tickle ears. Since coming here I have found him one of the most loving men I know. He loves us enough to preach Gods Word so faithfully that we might be offended at it. He loves God and us too much to do otherwise, even to what the world would say is his detriment.

I have heard similar accusations against Phil and his pastor.

I praise God for such men.

Bryan Riley said...

LeeC, great comment.

i love that about Jesus. Just when there were crowds following Him, he would teach something like you must hate your father and mother. I'm sure his disciples were thinking - ugh... why'd he have to go and say somethign crazy like that... look at everyone leaving. LOL. we serve an amazingly loving God.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Bryan Riley: "Perhaps you are trying to do so, but I can tell you that from my point of view, the way I feel, I feel very unwelcomed here."

You write about how you feel a lot. Who do you consider more responsible for your feelings and how you're feeling: Is it you or is it other people, for example, the TeamPyro bloggers?

Also, what if you and your constant expression of your feelings and how you feel is offensive to others, what would you think then? Would you still knowingly persist in airing your feelings even though they offended others? Or would you stop?

Bryan Riley said...

Are feelings not important? Are we not to love God with more than just our mind? Are we not to love people with more than just our minds? Why was David different than Saul? What does it mean to be hospitable? What does it mean to love? What does it mean to encourage? What does it mean to lift another's spirits? What does it mean to refresh another? What does it mean? If it doesn't involve feelings, what does it involve?

Bryan Riley said...

Lest anyone think i don't understand that love is more than a feeling, I will say that as well. It clearly is an act of the will to lvoe another unconditionally.

Phil Johnson said...

Bryan: "Any thoughts on this?"

What characterizes something as "chest-thumping"? Mere disagreement with your perspective? Because while there are doubtless many commenters here who would disagree with the implications of some of your statements, no one has yet threatened you, tried to intimidate you, or suggested that your comments are unwelcome here.

Yet almost from your first comment, your remarks have frequently coveyed a kind of chip-on-the shoulder passive-aggressive tone that is frankly more distasteful than raw, literal chest-thumping. But that passive-aggressive attitude is itself a kind of chest-thumping.

But I'll make you a deal : you let people comment here without deconstructing the elements of their "tone" and I'll extend the same privilege to you. You ARE welcome here, regardless of how you "feel" about it. Just try to stay on topic, OK?

Bryan Riley said...

Phil, I am trying, but it seems I speak in a different language. Things I say get deconstructed and misconstrued. i also thought this was a topic about people confused by postmodernism. Some have accused me of being one. How about we let me flesh out my thoughts and feelings, as well as your own, to try to understand how I am confused?

Are my questions off topic? Perhaps if someone would answer them I could then make the point as to how they are on topic? Who knows.

Look I am happy to talk intellectually about something, but I don't think God approaches us just with the mental and intellectual, so I am a bit confused as to why people struggle with talking feelings. Perhaps that is part of the problem and the misunderstanding between those labeled here as PM or emergent and those labeled here as guardians of sound doctrine? I don't know... i'm thinking out loud. is that okay? (I am not being sarcastic at all; I am trying to learn your rules.)

thanks for trying to understand.

Bryan Riley said...

Oh, as to your question on chest thumping and high fiving... first comment above is an example. But when one disagrees he becomes a they. An other - as in Lost. :)

Bryan Riley said...

Phil, also, I really don't have a clue what you mean by describing me as being passive/agressive. Perhaps I need examples.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Bryan Riley: "Are feelings not important?"

No one ever said they weren't. However, that wasn't my question. My question was this: "Who do you consider more responsible for your feelings and how you're feeling: Is it you or is it other people, for example, the TeamPyro bloggers?"

Bryan Riley said...

Sorry Truth Unites, I missed that question, and after this comment will give you all a rest as to these posts (unless someone actually deems my earlier questions relevant and takes time to answer them).

I hope I can continue in future conversations.

Clearly I am responsible for my feelings, but as brothers and sisters in Christ we belong to one another. Romans 12:5. We are to owe nothign to one another but to love. We are clearly to hold each other dearly, putting others' needs above our own. So, given all of that, it becomes each of our responsibility to do all things to lead to peace and to do away with unwholesome talk and to guard our tongues so that they are filled with words of love and edification.

i talked about how I felt because you cannot refute that. I did feel that way. My words were twisted and I was accused of being a them and many made judgments about my point of view, reading each word I wrote to see how it fit into one's view of those darned postmodern folk.

If we are not able to see through others' eyes, we will struggle to love them. We will question their hearts, their motives, their everything. But if we can begin to set aside our selfish perspective and our rights and take on their perspectives, we can begin to love more purely.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Bryan Riley: "Clearly I am responsible for my feelings,..."

Thank you for acknowledging that. Therefore, if you don't like how you're feeling, then you've stated that you're responsible for how you're feeling.

Bryan Riley: "... but as brothers and sisters in Christ we belong to one another. Romans 12:5. We are to owe nothing to one another but to love."

I would posit to you that my act of love towards you is trying to help you understand that you may have an unhealthy fixation on your feelings.

Bryan Riley: "i talked about how I felt because you cannot refute that."

Yes. I saw that and I saw through that.

The Doulos said...

I came late to the party, so have the perspective of reviewing the whole comment chain. Here's my observation, to you Brian R and the respondents.

Once again, we see the near impossibility of engaging in meaningful discussion with someone who self-identifies as holding to a postmodern position. Why? Because postmodernism, like the emerg*** spirituality that flows from it, seeks to intentionally defy clear definition. Whenever a reference is made to "pomos" or "emergents" the response seems to be "Who is that?" or "I don't agree with all of that" or something similar. I agree that using terms like "them" is not always helpful in these kind of debates, especially when referring to postmoderns who want to use the label on their terms but protest when others use it to refer to them. And then the debate becomes more focused on tone, nuance and emotions as the words are deconstructed and ancillary motivations are applied, resulting in a complete inability to communicate with any clarity and then veiled accusations (pomo/homo, chest-thumping, etc). This is exactly what's going on in this whole comment thread. And it's extraordinarily frustrating.

Go back to the original post and to Spurgeon's words. What's the point? The point is that contrary to the core tenets of postmodern philosphy that say certainty is overrated, the opposite is true. Certainty of some core, essential truths provided by God in Scriptures is a foundational anchor for anyone who would call themself a follower of Christ. And the clear and certain communication and defense of those truths is in fact the highest expression of love there can be.

I'm sure my comments will be further deconstructed here, but "that's all I have to say about that."

The Spokesman said...

Bryan,

First, you deconstructed the counsel by Spurgeon to fit your philosophy of Christianity. The very thing he gave counsel not to do - you contradicted as seen here:

Spurgeon said, “Brethren, aspire not to the “charity” which grows out of uncertainty….” You said, I have only found those who acknowledge that many of God’s ways are difficult to understand and they graciously (with charity) accept people with regard to disputable matters (those which grow out of uncertainty)(interpretation in parentheses mine).

Then I showed you the inconsistency of your philosophy (for correction, not for condemnation) because instead of "graciously accepting people with regard to disputable matters, you call those who speak it, "uncharitable." "It seems some of the commenters here keep throwing huge groups of people (anyone they label postmodern) under the bus."

Look at the context of what I was quoting from you at 3:58 PM, April 05, 2008 and you will see that the "they" I was referring to was "the Christians who won't say that hard truth is inherently uncharitable but will say that those who speak it are." That's you!

Now you're even twisting what has been said about Jesus labeling the Pharisees and Sadducees:

You said, "Did the Pharisees adn Saducees mislabel?" You do know that's another Red Herring don't you?

And then: "I absolutely agree that Jesus lumped them together, but they were all of one mind as to the law and their writings." What? The Pharisees and Sadducees were all of one mind? You haven't read the Scriptures! Read Acts 23:7-8.

I'll be glad to deal with your question to me about poison - but will have to do it another day.

Grace and peace,
Olan

Bryan Riley said...

Doulos, thank you. I think you made a great comment.

Olan, if you want to take our discussion off of Dan's blog (likely a great idea), then please just email me at bwriley4[at]yahoo[.]com. I may see if you have an email out there somewhere.

RememberPolycarp said...

I wrote my comment yesterday before going out with the family all day and night; wow, it looks like I missed all the action throughout the day.

Thank you Phil for clarifying so concisely to Bryan what I would have tried to do in many more chunks of text, as I wanted to say the same thing about the perceived "chest-bumping" and "chip-on-the-shoulder" preconceptions.

Bryan: I asked you a similar question on the "Coffee" posting the other day, but I'll ask it once again: I notice you like to focus on the value of subjective, relativistic, and circumstantial feelings/emotions (a perspective that I nor others here view in the same way you do in contrast to the far superior value of absolute, objective, and timeless Truth), so I will ask WHY is that your feelings seem to reflect varying degrees of opposition, rather than wholehearted enthusiasm and embrace, to so many of the frequently-made statements here at TeamPyro (which read like sweet honey to those who love to submit to God's authority): the absolute sovereignty of the Lord God in all circumstances, the folly of man's attempts to make the Lord God small through postmodern contextualization, semantics, and relevancy, the rejection of any doctrine/person that undermines the Gospel, our total deparvity as wretched sinners, the recognition and celebration of God's HOLINESS with fear and trembling that must always be close to our minds and hearts if we are to even begin to appreciate, understand and apply God's mercy, grace, and LOVE. In my experiences with postmodern and/or emerging/ent people who profess an association with Christ (and self-declared postmodern pagans in my workplace for that matter), there is consistently a rather vitriolic reaction to those statements of the Christian faith that are absolute, confident, black and white, objective, and in full submission to God's authority. Now, before you emotionalize this and jump to the conclusion that I am likening you to either an emergent or a pagan (I could see how you might do that, given the way you have processed what others here have said), I am suggesting that you may not even realize to what degree this spirit of the age--the one that has taken hold of the emergents entirely--has shaped your rhetoric, your hearing of the rhetoric of others, your understanding of false notions that have entered the church like "tolerance over truth" or "belonging before believing", or the many other branches of relativism/liberalism that exist in both the church culture and the secular culture around us. This is not a condemnation, but rather edification (I know you may not see it as such). However, as a believer in the sovereignty of God, I do not believe in accidents nor luck; I believe you are here, reading this blog at this very moment, because God has directed you. Please search your heart and mind as you consider the discussion in which you've become engaged in recent days; ask what God might be trying to teach you through it. Perhaps it might be an examination of the environment of your present church or your reading? We are all subject to being shaped and/or influenced, which is why so many here at this blog believe that anything that would influenece us must be scrutinized and willfully submitted to God's authority--which is by no means a form of legalism I might add; it is wisdom. For what it's worth, what denomination or church do you attend?

DJP said...

Olan, if you want to take our discussion off of Dan's blog....

That's funny, Bryan: are you calling Phil "Dan"?

Because if you are, that's the first time it's gone that way! (Usually it's the reverse.)

Strong Tower said...

But, I call Dan Phil all the time ;)

Phil Johnson said...

Bryan Riley: "Oh, as to your question on chest thumping and high fiving... first comment above is an example. But when one disagrees he becomes a they. An other - as in Lost."

Well, that's rich, because "Preson," who left that comment, is a perennial carping critic of our blog, and a tireless defender of all things postmodern. His comment was dripping with sarcasm; it was not a "high-five" by any stretch of the imagination. You should lurk and get to know people around here for a little while before psychoanalyzing the community.

As for your claim that anyone who disagrees "becomes a they. An other - as in Lost"—that is purely and demonstrably in your own imagination. Search for the pronoun "they," and you'll discover that it was used precisely once by one commenter before you yourself started using it, and you personally were not included in the reference until you included yourself.

Yet you portray yourself as beaten and bloodied by these comments. Why? Because someone disagreed with you. That is all anyone did to you here.

Newsflash: people—LOTS of them—disagree with me every day in these comment-threads. It's true that this forum is not about "feelings." I have nothing about them; you're welcome to have as many as you like. It's just that we discuss ideas and propositions here, and we generally avoid letting anyone's personal feelings—including mine—become the topic of discussion or commandeer our comment-threads. There are certain places in the blogosphere where people love to emote and analyze their own feelings ad nauseum. Not here. And if mere disagreement makes you "feel" so bad, and if you're going to use how you "feel" as your central argument against every opinion you disagree with here, you're liable to start getting a few of those verbal "high-fives" on the back of your head.

Now let's get this thread back on topic, or I will close it.

DJP said...

Right on, Dan.

donsands said...

" ..nor will we though men count us fools for our stedfastness."

"Create in me a clean heart O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm51:10

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth" Eph. 6:14

"I have given them Your Word ... Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth." John 17:17

"Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your Word.
I rejoice at Your Word
As one who finds a great treasure." Psalm 119:161-162

The Scriptures are God's greatest treasure to us, His Children, only second to Christ Himself, through the Holy Spirit.

From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.--The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

Strong Tower said...

TUAD-

e-mail me...

Gilbert said...

Strong Tower said:

"One of the problems today is that many people see the anchor, detach it from the ship and toss it over, then say, see, that anchor was no good after all."

But they don't realize until it is too late that the anchor rope was snagged to their leg when they threw it over...

And you know something? Heresy doesn't change! No matter how pomo, how "new" or fresh you are, the Gospel is the same. Always has. Always will be.
Mr. Spurgeon's comments are anbsolutely striking to me. They perfectly reflect and mirror what he saw a generation ago.

farmboy said...

bryan riley offers the following: "I think this discussion shows the danger of making Christianity a religion of words." How can anyone understand the content of Christianity if Christianity cannot be described using words? Words have objective meaning. Because words have objective meaning, we need to be careful and precise in our use of words. Because words have objective meaning, we need to contend for the proper use of words, following the example of Mr. Johnson in his series of posts on contextualization.

John describes Jesus Christ as the Logos, the Word, and as the Way, the Truth and the Life. When we defend, preserve and advance the proper use of words and language, to a great extent we are contending for the Word and the Truth.

To the extent that postmodernism denies the objective meaning of words or denies the objective truth content of words, it is fair to conclude that postmodernism is an assult on the Word and the Truth.

The postmodern worldview may well be a response to the modern worldview. As Christians, however, we have never been called to understand the world from either modern or postmodern perspectives. Instead, Christians are called to understand the world from the perspective of a biblical worldview.

This is part of the problem at Cedarville University. The postmodern progressives are imputing (an interesting word to use here on another theological dimension) the failings of the modern worldview to the biblical worldview.

bryan riley also offers: "...I wanted to talk about it and how it made me feel..." I would suggest that, in the whole scheme of things, our subjective feelings are not all that important. Let's focus instead on what transcends us: objective truth.

Bryan Riley said...

I was going to cease and desist, but I have been asked a couple of questions, and I do want to address a bit of what farmboy just said.

First, although I think it irrelevant, and it feeds into the incessant need to categorize people that we all tend to get caught up in, Remember Polycarp, I spent nearly 30 years in the SBC (at a small rural church as a child and a larger college town church as an adult) and am now a member of a nondenominational church that sprang out of a bible study of Church of Christ families and an pastor who had been SBC and then Fellowship Bible.

In response to farmboy's comment, I will first say this paragraph is a gem and is spot on:

"The postmodern worldview may well be a response to the modern worldview. As Christians, however, we have never been called to understand the world from either modern or postmodern perspectives. Instead, Christians are called to understand the world from the perspective of a biblical worldview."

I will also, in response, reveal a bit more about myself. I am a lawyer by training and spent ten years practicing law before finally giving in to God's call to the mission field.

I reveal that I am a lawyer because there is a HUGE difference, in my mind, between the Living Word, Jesus Christ, and words written on a piece of paper (or here electronically). Words often fail to capture objective truth and can be argued to fit whatever we want them to. We are creative people (created in His image) and we have these Jeremiah 17 hearts that put us in a difficult spot when it comes to reason and words. Here it seems people bemoan what they've called postmodern but perhaps we should bemoan post Enlightenment first.

Furthermore, the NT is not the new covenant law. Let's not fall guilty (be bewitched!) of what Paul railed against in Galatians 3.

Last thought...Feelings do matter. They mattered to God, as I've illustrated scripturally before and could add to. I also think that it would be interesting for any of you to tell your spouses what farmboy said or to say let's talk about what matters, not feelings.

Good discussion

Daryl said...

"I also think that it would be interesting for any of you to tell your spouses what farmboy said or to say let's talk about what matters, not feelings."

If we're talking about whether we should do domething like buy a house or something...or do something forbidden by Scripture...

Those things are more akin to what we're talking aboutr around here. The discussions on Pyro are not "I feel fat" or "Do you really love me? I mean, in your heart of hearts". While those are common (and necessary) conversations in a marriage, they are not what's going on here.

So no, feelings are not relevant to the discussion. If God says "A", my feelings towards "A" are irrelevant, "A" it is, like it or not.

There are facts to be believed in Scripture, irrespective of feelings. True, feelings may come (or not) but truth remains.
And even in marriage, we can't affirm or deny our relationship based on feelings, not even a little bit. That's what the world does "It didn't mean anything, honey, I don't have feelings for her". Try that and see how it flys.
And on the positive side "Follow your heart" is bad advice all the way around.

This is Spurgeon's point in the orginal post. It doesn't matter if I feel charitable, or if I feel like you are being uncharitable, the facts are plain and we must believe them. Telling someone that they are wrong and the Bible is right is hardly uncharitable, it is true.

farmboy said...

Bryan Riley observes: "I also think that it would be interesting for any of you to tell your spouses what farmboy said..."

I've said as much and more to my wife countless times. She's a solid, super woman. Unlike Bill Clinton, she understands that it's better to do something that alleviates a person's pain than to merely feel that person's pain.

Bryan Riley also observes: "Words often fail to capture objective truth and can be argued to fit whatever we want them to." Given that God is infinite and we are finite, it is true that finite creatures cannot grasp the entirety of an infinite God. In this respect, the words of special revelation (Scripture) do not fully capture the objective truth of God and His attributes. However, to fail to fully capture the infinite is not the same as failing to accurately and faithfully represent those attributes. Still, special revelation is necessary if we are to know the specifics of God, His attributes, His plan of redemption, and such. It's not a know-completely or know-not-at-all dichotomy. Instead, given our finite, fallen natures, it's know as completely and fully as we can.

Men dedicated to defending, preserving and advancing the truth do not "argue words to fit whatever they want them to." Yes, all men bring biases to the task of accurate communication and interpretation. That doesn't mean, however, that we should give up on the task and go home. No, far from it. Instead, being aware of these biases, men dedicated to defending, preserving and advancing the truth do the best they can to address and subdue those biases. They study words to understand the truth and use words to communicate the truth, as best as fallen, finite humans can. That this task takes place within the Christian community further addresses and subdues the biases any one individual brings to the task.

Both the modern and postmodern worldviews have man as the measure of all things. The modern worldview thinks too highly of man, positing that objective truth exists and that man has the capacity to completely and exhaustively access objective truth. Based on this knowledge, man, who is presumed to be inherently good, can bring about almost unlimited progress.

The postmodern worldview over-reacts against the excesses of the modern worldview. Instead of complete, exhaustive access to objective truth, objective truth does not exist. Each man is free to construct his own subjective truth. It is in this worldview where men "argue words to fit whatever they want them to."

The biblical wordview notes the existence of objective truth, based on the character and creative activity of God. The biblical worldview also notes the effect of sin on man's capacity to access objective truth. Men are blind in their trespasses and sin. Men hate the light and love the darkness. Men do what is right in their own eyes. This inability to access objective truth is most acute when it comes to spiritual truth. Part of being born again is God reorienting us so that we can see and understand the world from God's perspective, from a biblical perspective (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Only God can undo the blinding, incapacitating effects of sin. He does this by working through the power of His Word being proclaimed. I see this as one of the strongest arguments for a presuppositional, as opposed to evidential, approach to apologetics.

As a legal rabbit trail, consider the strict constructionist and living document approaches to interpreting the Constitution of these United States. How judges and attorneys from these two camps handle the Constitution has many parallels with how Christians from the biblical and postmodern worldviews handle Scripture.

Bryan Riley said...

Farmboy, great comment.

I think of the letter to Philemon when I think of an expressive, feeling Paul... he could have just ordered it, but instead he appealed in love. He describes Onesimus as his heart. Amazing.

RememberPolycarp said...

Wish I had more time, but I'm on my way to teach a class tonight. However, you can celebrate the fact that you will not find the words modernism or postmodernism in scripture all you want; what you will find is the "spirit of this age" that is characterized by a number of features, namely rebellion. Of course, rebellion is the first sin, it is Satan's sin, and it is the poison that accompanies all sins. Few will deny that postmodernism, including pagans who boast in it, is characterized by rebellion. If you likewise wish to focus on emotions, then look at the emotion of rebellion--which is also cognitive and spiritual--that surrounds not only postmoderns in general, but emergents in particular--just glance through any of their prominent websites and you see their seething anger. Is this the emotional warm-fuzzy's you are talking about? Is it really that hard for you to call rebellion what it is? Or rebels what they are? How's that for grouping people?

REB said...

The Holy Spirit saw this day coming.

Daryl said...

Reb,

He planned it...