Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Without a Hint of Irony

J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future, Timothy George's compilation of the talks at a 2006 conference, isn't particularly absorbing. A few chapters are intriguing, Carl Trueman's in particular. It's actually unclear to me why Dever's criticisms provoke more defensiveness in Packer's concluding chapter (Dever = "Sheriff of Nottingham"), when Trueman probes more bluntly. Maybe you had to be there. But that's another matter.

What made me chuckle was Chuck Colson's assessment of the rising threat of postmodernism. Colson, many will recall, was one of the driving forces behind Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). ECT created quite a stir back in the 90s, and that stir still reverberates from time to time. Summary: Groups of evangelicals and Roman Catholics signed a document that both could affirm, and a portion of that document was a statement on justification. Numerous critiques, supported by corroborating evidence, argued that the two groups didn't really reach agreement on justification. Rather, they forged careful wording that both groups could infuse with their own divergent definitions.

With that story as a backdrop, it's extraordinary to read Colson's warnings against postmodern epistemology, written without a hint of irony. Though he describes in the passage below those who deny the possibility of knowing truth, his words apply equally to those who craft ambiguity:
[W]e are living in this great age of relativism where my truth is my truth and your truth is your truth, and we can have it any way we fashion it. (132-133)
And later:
If we do not take truth seriously, we will not take God seriously. The crisis we face in this country, unless we find a way to winsomely engage the postmodern culture, is that people will not take our God seriously. They may like having our God as an experience. They may want something from it. But they are not going to take it seriously. The problem, however, is not just in our culture today. The problem is also in our church, where we have stopped taking truth seriously. (134)
That's breathtakingly ironic, but incontrovertibly true.

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