Jesus As Lord In A Post-Modern World

That Jesus is Saviour is something that many people can somewhat stomach, but when we talk about Him as Lord, perhaps a lot of people might be a little unsettled. While the Lordship of Jesus has always been challenged all throughout history, the challenges we see in a postmodern era are pretty staggering and scary to say the least. At a time when every person is their own "lord", to even suggest that Jesus is the true Lord and King who is worthy of all service, obedience and honour in all matters of our lives is seen as utterly archaic.

Where Have We Come From

I find it very important to sort of help us understand where we are as a people in the history of the world. For many Christian ministers, this is a subject I would encourage you to look into so you know the particular "gods" of our age which by God's grace we will all pull together and push back against as we preach the gospel to all people. My attempt to simplify these more complex epochs of human history would require your own further study to clarify and further understand.

The premodern world (a.d. 1200-1600) was a time when truth and authority was vested in God, or a diety of some sort. D.A Carson puts it this way:

"...during that time an account of human knowing would go something like this: God exists and knows everything. We human beings, made in his image, know only an infinitesimal part of what God knows. In fact, if we are to know anything, then we must come to know some part of what God already perfectly knows-and so revelation is required. Revelation can come through Scripture or the church’s teachings or by the Spirit’s illumination or through experience or by means of what we today call “science.”"

Summarised for simpler understanding, people in this age believed that:

1. Truth was gotten by revelation

2. Truth was determined by God and was absolute

3. Truth and knowledge could be learned through the supernatural

Fast forward to a period when people began questioning Christianity, and the way that people acquired knowledge and determined truth - the modern world was birthed. This is in the early 17th century. This is the time we see Ren Descartes's famous axiom, "I think therefore I am."

Slowly, society moves to an understanding and acquiring of knowledge that is based on the individual and not on God, or the Church. This is the time of the Enlightenment and this is where people based truth and knowledge on what mankind could figure out with his intellect and rational, or scientific discovery.

Simply put: science and reason were collaboratively or in conjunction with each other in how people acquired knowledge.

Summarised for simpler understanding, people in this age believed that:

1. The individual could acquire knowledge and determine truth using rational and scientific methods.

2. Truth and knowledge was based off of some agreed foundational basis of determining it (scholars, universities, theorists), and hence it could be certain and absolute.

3. Truth that was proven to be truth had universal acceptability - it transcended culture and history.

Understanding Postmodern Society

"The mark of the Postmodern condition of knowledge is a move away from the authority of universal science toward narratives of local knowledge" - David Noebel

Postmodernism, which hit the scene in the late 1950s, had huge queries about the previous methods of obtaining knowledge and truth. One author put it rightly when he said, "Postmodern approaches seek to deconstruct previous authority sources and power. Because power is distrusted, they attempt to set up a less hierarchical approach in which authority sources are more diffuse."

The idea here is simple: the old, boxed ways were just not working, and now, you can use the old ways, or just do it your own way. This is postmodernism summarised. From moving to determining truth from revelation, to using rational and science, the world we currently live in determines truth "locally". By "locally", I simply mean that the individual is the sole authority and determiner of truth, hence phrases such as: "Whats true for you might not be true for me."

Looking at art and architecture from say, the 1960s going forward, one would note a definite departure from the "norms". In particular, I always think of the youth culture of the 70s, and the music of that age. In this time period, one of my favourite songs, Bohemian Rhapsody was actually recorded in 1975 by the British band, Queen. The arrangement of the song, which many would say is pure genius, epitomised the age it was produced in. It defies all ideas of "these are the rules of music we should stick to." This song has an opera in the middle of it, an opera, people!

In essence, this time period is a move from establish norms to daring to "do whatever one would please" and enjoy, "as long as no one is hurt" in the process.

David Noebel would say that postmodernists agree with Nietzsche that “God” (that is to say, the supreme being of classical theism) has become unbelievable, as have the autonomous self and the meaning of history.

Jesus as Lord

"Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?" - Jesus, in Luke 6:46

If the fundamental truths about life, the world and my purpose are determined primarily by me, then I will have no need for a Lord. So, a Jesus who tells me what is right and what is wrong is then primitive at the very least, and bigoted at most. It is no wonder why you can scroll the pages of any social media and see confused young people who breathe the post-modern "self-Lordship" air while they also want to identify with the Jesus of the Bible. These will always be in conflict.

In his book, What Jesus Demands from the World, John Piper lists and explains a total of 50 demands that the Lord Jesus demands of all those in the world from the Scriptures. He demands that we be born again, we repent, we deny ourselves, worship him in spirit and truth, we be humble, we love our enemies and our neighbours, we make disciples, we strive to enter through the narrow door etc - the list can go on.

Following the demands of Jesus is the path to joy and fulfillment. While some of his demands will be antithetical to the culture around us, He is the Good Sherperd that leads His sheep to green pastures and still waters. It is when we follow this good sherperd that our souls are most at rest. My soul is at rest when I know my place - I am a servant in the courts of a King. I am a child in the house of a loving Father. The moment I allow my "postmodernity" to overrule, and make ME the proprietor of knowledge and truth, I have experienced great hurt and dissatisfaction.

Listen, understand the times, and do not imbibe this idea of you and I being inherently truth-makers, and determiners. We are not. Let God be true and every man be a liar.

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