Romans 12:2 by Robert Dean
Who can tally all the months, years, and centuries the academic chattering class have wasted trying to figure out what the universe is all about when God has revealed the truth in the Bible? Listen to this lesson to learn about the history of ideas that appeal to man's sin nature but lead to a life of depression and despair. See how these philosophies have impacted everything in life from morality to law and social studies and music. Step up to the challenge of having your mind transformed from the inside out and marvel at the omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence of God who is always in control and has a perfect plan for mankind.

Worldview Shift – Part 2
Romans 12:2-3

We're going to do a little review of what we covered last week so we can continue to set up where I'm going in this particular study. Romans 12:1-2, as I've stated in the last lessons, is a critical passage. The more I have studied this over the last ten years or so, the more I think this is the blueprint for the Christian life. Paul begins, "I beseech you, I urge you, I challenge you by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God which is your reasonable service." Reasonable here means it's a logical deduction once we understand what God has done for us in His grace then we conclude that we should serve Him.

The way we do this is explained in verse two telling us in the negative not to be conformed to this world. It has the idea of being pressed into a mold. The phrase "mercies of God" is the same as the beginning of the next verse. Paul has explained in the last eleven chapters that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice. Bible doctrine is not just an academic exercise in learning things about God and theology but it implies and demands a change, a course of action in our lives.

 I used the example last week of how the pressure of the world system with the example of Phil Robertson and the whole Duck Dynasty. I did hear that Jessie Jackson opened his mouth as usual and stated that what Phil Robertson did was analogous to the man who wanted to force Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus. Of course this is so surprise coming from the Rev. Jackson. He has now firmly planted his feet in the anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Christian mode and he just says there's no reason for Robertson to say what he did. Well, what about the verse that was quoted? Isn't Jackson supposed to be a Christian pastor? I was driving back from Louisiana this morning when I heard that. I was wondering what kind of Christianity he holds that takes a razorblade to various passages of Scripture that identify homosexuality as a sin. Then you say that's akin to racism.

This is just an example we're developing when we talk about modern and postmodern thinking. It turns everything inside out and we no longer have any kind of input or reference point by which to evaluate anything. That's a perfect example of it. I just love it when the news gives me my illustrations. So we're pressured constantly to conform or think like the world or we're threatened with all kinds of consequences. Instead we're to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

The word for world there is the idea for the thinking of the world. We're going to see several different words for thinking in this chapter. This word aion has to do with the thinking of the world system but as it's expressed in different time periods. Every time period in history has different nuances. It's obvious to any thinking person that they all manifest the same lie of the Devil, but every generation dresses it up in different clothes. So those different clothes somehow disguise it for us because we're sheep, remember. We're not too bright and so we have to come to understand how Satan's lie is being manifest in our generation so we can understand it in terms of our own thinking.

So we're not to be conformed to the world but we're to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, which means that the Christian life is essentially thinking. It has to do with understanding how to think as God thinks. It's not a life based on emotion. It's based on thinking accurately and objectively according to God's revelation. When we change the way we think it changes the way we act and by living that out, we demonstrate that God's will is good, acceptable, and complete. The New King James translates that word as "perfect" but it has the sense of being complete. It deals with the sufficiency of the Scripture.

I then went to James 3 and talked about the contrast between the wisdom that is above in James 3:15 versus that which is earthly, natural, and demonic. The word there for earthly is focusing on what's manifested on the earth by the inhabitants of the earth. The word "natural" is the word psuchikos in the Greek. It's translated natural also in 1 Corinthians 2:14 and referenced to the soulish or unregenerate man who is unable to understand the things of God because they are spiritually revealed.

So this is showing that false wisdom is that which comes from the creature that is not oriented to eternal things. This emphasizes these two worldviews we have. You either think like the devil or you think like Jesus Christ, one or the other. In our lives from one moment to the next we may be thinking according to God's principles and then we're out of fellowship and we're thinking like the devil. We may think we're just as neurotic or borderline psychotic as we can be but that's because one moment we're thinking and living according to the Scriptures and we're walking by the Spirit and then the next minute we're in rebellion and we're walking according to the sin nature and we're completely out of fellowship. We closed last time talking about the fact that we all have a worldview. We all have a way of looking at the world. Every human being does. We think of the world in terms of our religious assumptions, in terms of other intellectual assumptions and I showed this in terms of basic assumptions every worldview has.

There are four basic areas: ultimate reality, what philosophy calls metaphysics, that which is beyond the physical senses and this refers to God or theism as a worldview or it can refer to pantheism, polytheism, atheism, Darwinism, and secularism. All of those have different views of what exists such as ultimate materialism which looks at the universe as only material and everything is controlled by material forces. From our understanding of ultimate reality we also have a view of who we are as human beings.

In terms of anthropology we have a view of knowledge or epistemology as it's identified in philosophy. This asks how we know what we know. Then we have the practical outworking of those in terms of ethics and how we live. All of these as they go into that worldview Mixmaster gets stirred up and from that develop different views of origin, different views of religion, man, nature, creation, science, and society including marriage, family, politics, suffering and the solutions to suffering and law as well as the arts.

This is important because a lot of places where people pick up the worldview of their time is through the arts, through literature and stories that are read, through the music that is heard, not just the words in the music but the music itself. Music changes when the worldview changes, just as everything else changes in history. All change when our presuppositions about reality change. It also affects things like economics and business. So that's the worldview Mixmaster.

When we break down a worldview it's helpful to break it down in terms of the four fundamental assumptions: what does it say about God or ultimate reality? What does it say about man and the nature of man, such as whether man is basically good or basically evil? Knowledge which is how do we know what we know and how do we know for sure? And ethics and even the relationship of those four to one another.

Last time I identified the basic questions that every worldview seeks to answer: What is ultimate reality and how do we know that it's real? What's the nature of external reality? What is mankind? Is mankind just the product of time, place, and chance? Was there an accidental spark in some primordial ooze and out came and what developed from that over a period of time is essentially human beings? What happens when a person dies? Are we just composed of electronic impulses acting upon different aspects of our physical nature or do we have volition and responsibility? Or is that just something that we think we have but it's actually just the function of chemical reactions within our body? If it is physical reactions within our body then how can we be responsible?

That has huge impact on our understanding of law and punishment. That is something every lawyer deals with every time he's in the court. Many of you know Bob Guerra. He's a lawyer down in the Valley and he's told me many times that it's getting so much worse than we imagine. Nothing that anyone does is their fault. Never. It's never their fault. It's always someone else's fault. This is accepted in the courts. It's not their fault. It's their parents' fault. It's someone else's fault. It's the food that they ate. Whatever it might be, the environment, the chemicals put out by the petro-chemical plants, whatever it is, it's never someone's fault because they made a decision. That flows out of a natural assumption that we're products of purely physical force from a purely material universe.

Next we come to knowledge questions. How can we know? How do we know? Can we know anything with certainty? Then how do we know right from wrong? What determines right from wrong? For example going back to the current event with Phil Robertson and the Dynasty controversy, what gives anyone the right to say that he was wrong? What gives him the right to say that homosexual behavior is sinful? Where do you get your absolutes? Where do you get the ability to say that something is right and something is wrong? If there are no universal absolutes outside the human race then we just make it up as we go along.

That's what we're going to see when we end up in post-modernism is that everybody's story is competing and no one has the right to a meta-narrative or overarching story that determines absolute truth. So it's just pure competition so what gives anyone the right to come along and say something is right or wrong. That is where it boils down to power. What we see that the movers and shakers in our culture who understand this realize that in post-modernism when there's no absolute authority then the real issue is who has power. Coming to a place of power and using that power regardless of what a Constitution or anything else says, is how you have success. That's how it's measured. That's how we get into what we have today in terms of power politics.

Next, what's the meaning of history? Is history going anywhere or is history just random events that occur and it has no meaning and as Henry Ford said, "It's just one damn thing after another"? So is there meaning to history? From a Christian viewpoint, a Biblical Judeo-Christian viewpoint, history is supremely important because history is the outworking of God's plan and history is going somewhere and God is going to eventually bring resolution to all of the conflicts and problems that take place within human history. So if you are opposed to God what you will propose is that history is meaningless. You will do everything you can to demean history and to change history and to change the details of history and revise them to fit your story. That's a lot of what we see going on today.

 I ended last time with a diagram that Charlie Clough developed which I think is a great illustration of the whole principle of Romans 1:18 that when men reject the truth of God and the truth of His Word then they have to replace that with something. The Bible says they're suppressing truth in unrighteousness. Any Biblical truth and principle, for example the principle that Phil Robertson said last week about homosexuality being wrong, that immediately gets absorbed by the systems of unbelief that are dominant in a culture and they attempt to neutralize it, to destroy it, to prevent it from having an impact on a culture.

Now a culture that is more influenced by Biblical truth will witness less of this but a culture that has less Biblical truth is going to see this happen again and again. We live in a culture that is in decline and so the forces that seek to stamp out any one who raises their voice for Biblical truth, unless they manage to push it off into a one-hour segment on Sunday morning that is isolated from the other six and a half days of the week so that what is said from the pulpit has no real connection to everyday life, then they have a victory. This is where the world is headed these days.

What is one of the ultimate issues in determining a worldview from a Christian viewpoint has to do with understanding what we call a sin nature. A sin nature in Judeo-Christian thought means that human beings are born basically corrupt. We have been impacted by the sin of Adam so that we are all corrupt in our thinking. That doesn't mean we can't do good and wonderful things and many people do many good and wonderful things. But what it means is that we are driven mostly by selfish desires and self-centered desires. We're driven by what's good for me and we often do good things because ultimately it comes back positively to us. That's our motivation.

We recognize this and there's a huge worldview clash that is seen over this. As I pointed out last time Thomas Sowell in his book, "Conflict of Vision" goes back to writers in the 18th century who point out that the difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals have a high view of man, that man is basically good, and he is perfectible. The worldview of conservatives is that men can do wonderful things but they're basically corrupt and there needs to be a guard or protection on that self-centeredness and that corruption. The difference between conservatives and liberals basically boils down to how they view man. How someone views man and mankind and human nature is a reflection ultimately of how they view ultimate reality.

From a Judeo-Christian viewpoint that means they have a view of a deity that is personal and infinite and righteous and sets the standard for what right and wrong is all about. So it's important to understand the nature of man because that sin nature affects how every human being interprets and understands the world around them from the time they come into the world.

The first area when talking about ultimate reality is understanding the nature of God. From a Judeo-Christian background God is the creator who is totally distinct from the creation. We refer to this as the Creation-Creature distinction. It says that God is totally other. He's personal, which means He's not a force. He's not just an energy field out in the heavens. He has revealed Himself to us. He is also infinite.

That concept of infinity applies to all of His attributes. We apply it to His knowledge and we call His knowledge omniscience. He has unlimited knowledge. He knows everything. God's knowledge is different from our knowledge in that our knowledge is acquired. We learn from day to day. We will never have infinite knowledge because, as finite beings, we will never reach infinity. So even when you and I have been in heaven for eons and eons we will still have things to learn. God's knowledge, in contrast, is not acquired. He knows everything possible and everything actual and He has always known it and He is always able to know all of the interactions between all the events that transpired. He never gains knowledge and He never loses knowledge. So it's personal, He's able to have a relationship with creatures. Even though He is infinite He is able to express Himself and to communicate as individuals.

When we think about how the Bible presents God, starting with those opening chapters in Genesis, God creates the human race in His image and likeness so that we are a finite counterpart to God so that He can communicate to us. We can understand what He is communicating to us. He has designed us in such a way as an omnipotent God who can do whatever He desires to do. He has created us in such a way so that we can understand what He is communicating. He has, as it were, built the right receptors into us so that when He communicates we can receive it and understand. Now that got mucked up a little bit after Adam's sin because of sin in our lives but it's not destroyed. The communication and the reception of that communication is just rendered a little difficult. There's a little static in the airwaves.

So God creates man as the ultimate in His universe because we are to rule over the universe as God's representatives, as his vice-gerent... Now that's not a vice-regent. Those are two different words. Vice-gerent is someone who is set up to rule in the place of someone else. A vice-regent is like a vice president. You have the regent and then you have the vice-regent who is the assistant under the rule of the regent. We are not a vice-regent. We are a vice-gerent. We rule in God's place over His creation.

Then God has placed man over the animals and vegetation, over matter and energy and everything in creation. We are to rule it honestly and responsibly. This is the foundation for the true Biblical view of environmentalism. It's not the pagan view of environmentalism that is dominant today. As Christians we should emphasize the responsible and efficient use and development of all the natural resources on the planet. God put these and creates these things on the planet for our use and for our benefit.

Now a pagan approach to deity is that there's just an infinite, impersonal universe. There's just matter. There's no personality out there. There's no individual in control, it's just matter. How matter can affect things from a rational viewpoint can never be explained. That's just a huge leap of irrational logic. People will say, "Well the universe is influencing this." Well, how? Just explain that. Because they've rejected God they have to apply religious language to an impersonal universe in order to give them some sort of comfort as and explanation to who they are and why they exist.

Man can't live as if there is no God. As the writer of Scripture says, man has a desire to know God and when he removes God from that place he puts something else there. He will worship the creation or a creature rather than the Creator. So what man does is that he comes along and he circumscribes all of the universe, the physical world that he can observe, and he places everything that he sees within that circle. It's like Man has the capital letter and god has the lower case because Mankind gets deified. Mankind becomes the ultimate reference point and determiner of truth and determiner of right and wrong. God becomes just as much a part of the mechanisms of the universe just as everything else.

This is seen clearly in some of the ancient creation myths where, for example in the Babylonian creation myth, Tiamat is slain by Marduk and the universe and the earth are made from those body parts.  They're already pre-existing but everything is part of what's already in the universe. There's no ex-nihilo creation, that is, creation out of nothing. So it depends on where you end up, whether it's an infinite personal God or with an infinite, impersonal universe. Those are the ultimate realities. There are various permutations that fall in between those extremes but that's basically what you're talking about.

I think C.S. Lewis made the observation that the two extremes are either Biblical theism, which is Judeo-Christian theism, or Hinduism. Hinduism has a purely impersonal universe and everything else falls out in between. So what's our view of ultimate reality? As a theist we're going to start with ultimate reality but what really happened with the Enlightenment as it was initiated by Rene Descartes whose famous statement is "I think, therefore I am", shifts ultimate reality from out there and ultimate being to thought, to knowledge.

This is what occurred during the Enlightenment which came to be known as Modernism. Modernism says that the real issue is how we think. The real issue is knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge and so that shifts the center of the thinking. This is part of what is usually referred to as the history of ideas and it's really important to understand the history of ideas because we see where some of these things that are influencing our culture today have their origin and how they fit with other things. So we start off talking first of all about ultimate reality.

Then we talk about the basis for knowledge. How do we know what we know? Within the history of human thought there are three basic ways in which man comes to know truth. Now each of these has a measure of truth to it. That's what makes some of these claims so viable because there is an element of truth there. But it's not ultimate. The first system of thought is rationalism. Now we can talk about ancient rationalism which was exemplified by Plato. Plato believed that ultimate reality was in ideas, within the mind. Sometimes this is presented as idealism. So you have rationalism as the starting point, innate ideas that Plato taught were inside the soul.

But ultimately the starting point is faith. Faith is not a separate system of perception. Faith is foundational to every system of perception. Faith here is in human ability to think, that we believe that man is so bright and so brilliant and so capable in intellect that starting from principles of pure reason alone he can arrive at overarching truths that explain everything in the universe. This was both Plato's view and Descartes' view.

Now prior to Immanuel Kant in the late 1700s every philosopher and every thoughtful person believed that we could arrive at an ultimate truth, an overarching explanation or in post-modern terminology, a meta-narrative, a story that would organize all the data. Now they fought like cats and dogs about what that overarching story was but up until the end of the 1700's they believed there was one overarching story. They just couldn't agree what it was. The way you got there was through logic. They believed in logic and reason and that the universe was rational and that you could explain it.

The second system is called empiricism and empiricism is based on the fact that no, we're not born with innate ideas, we don't start with some sort of thought within us and then work out way out, we learn through sense perception. We're born with our souls as an empty slate and through what we hear and what we see, taste, touch, and feel, that's how we learn the world around us. Both rationalism and empiricism become the foundation for the scientific method but once again it's grounded in a faith in human ability to properly interpret the data that comes in through the eyes and through the ears, etc. and putting all that together.

Now there are many things we can learn through rationalism and empiricism but it's limited. The best example from the Scripture is that Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. God had planted the garden and He's planted all these trees that produced fruit for food and there was plenty there and God told them they could eat freely from the trees in the Garden of Eden. They could have learned that to a great degree empirically. God had already given them the task of identifying and naming the animals and taking care of the Garden and there is a tremendous amount they could learn through the application of the scientific methodology to learning everything about what was in the Garden of Eden. But there's one thing they could never learn through either rationalism or empiricism. That one thing is what actually organized all the data into its proper setting. That was that there was one tree they couldn't eat from or shouldn't eat from and that was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could not gain that knowledge through rationalism or empiricism. It had to come through revelation.

So rationalism and empiricism is based on the individual use of logic and reason. Now historically when rationalism and empiricism fail as a foundation for cultural knowledge, there's always a reaction. That reaction is always to go against it and that's the rise of mysticism. Mysticism is anti-reason. Mysticism is anti-rational. Mysticism is reason gone to seed and it turns the outward look inward and seeks to find truth from some sort of inner light, inner experience, or inner intuition but it again is faith in human ability. See, what each of these systems has is the concept that man can properly interpret his experience, both internal and external, or his thinking and come to a knowledge of absolute truth.

While mysticism operates independent of any revelation, it's non-rational, non-logical and non-verifiable. Somebody says something and you immediately want to say, "How do you know that God wants you to do that? How do you know that's true?" They answer, "I just know it." Well sometimes that's a combination of experience, somebody for example like a police officer in an investigation or someone who is involved in law presenting a case or in science. They've got so much experience it's almost non-verbal for them and they know something is true even though at that point they may not be able to give you all the lines of evidence leading to that conclusion they just have sort of a gut reaction and that's really based on their experience in the past not on some sort of inner light. Now this is mysticism.

Now in contrast for the Christian in the Judeo-Christian heritage, from the Biblical heritage, we have revelation. Revelation trumps rationalism, empiricism, and mysticism. Revelation means that God, who is the creator of everything, has actually entered into human history and communicates information to mankind so that we can learn some things that we can't discover from reason or experience. That would be the case with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden in Eden. We have to have revelation from God in order to understand things. This was what happened each day in the Garden of Eden when God came and taught Adam and Eve about the creation. He gave them foundational information so that they could then go out and develop the use of that in their interaction with the creation as they're ruling over the creation as God's vice-gerent. Revelation is objective and its information that is disclosed from God.

As Christians we're often accused of being irrational and illogical because we believe in revelation. But revelation isn't the opposite of reason and logic. Revelation gives us a foundation, the starting point for reason and logic. We develop this from the Scriptures. This is why the psalmist says, "It is in your light, God, that we see light." The presupposition, the framework, the foundation that we have for truth comes first from God and then we build upon that. So this is how we come to knowledge.

This is one of the big debates in philosophy which asks how we come to know anything. The starting point is always within creation. You can't start within creation and build to an infinite meta-narrative to explain everything. This is one place where postmodernism got it right. You have to start somewhere else.

In our world we live in a world that has a mix of modernists and post-modernists. Actually we also have pre-modernists. Pre-modern are people who believe the Bible. The term that came to be used in terms of modernism described those who were following the modern thinking of the rationalists and empiricists coming out of the Enlightenment. But before the Enlightenment what dominated? In the Middle Ages the thinking of the Bible dominated. They may have come to wrong conclusions at times, and they did, but they believed the Bible would give them that ultimate reference point. That's considered pre-modern thinking because it believes in the legitimacy of Divine revelation.

Modernism dumps or excludes any kind of Divine authority and the authority becomes man himself. So the human race becomes that ultimate reference point. There's a well-known quote from John Paul Sartes, the noted existentialist in the 40–60s where he says, "For a finite reference point to have any meaning it has to have an infinite reference point. In other words, if you just have a dot or a speck of light, for that to have any kind of meaning in terms of its size, intensity, strength, any of those factors, there has to be something ultimate that you reference it to, that you compare it to, that gives it it's meaning and definition.

Modernism's ultimate reference point is human thought. Whether it's expressed through reason like in the philosophy of Descartes or whether it's expressed through the rational use of data in empiricism man is the one who initiates. Descartes was a theist. He has his own form of the non-theological argument for the existence of God and other arguments for the existence of God. He was a Jesuit geometrician and he clearly believed in God but when it comes to knowledge, the starting point for Descartes is inside the human soul, not divine revelation, so he shifts that starting point to human thought.

Modernism emphasized empiricism or rationalism until we really get to David Hume. David Hume introduces skepticism into the thought system showing that neither rationalism nor empiricism can bring about any kind of certainly with regard to knowledge and truth. So this created chaos in the intellectual thinking community and Immanuel Kant, who wrote his book on "Critique of Pure Reason" around 1775, right around the time of the American War for Independence, says that we don't know things as they are because we only know things as we perceive them. This was called the Copernican Revolution in thought because it shifts the center of knowledge from outside of man to inside of man just as the Copernican Revolution in astronomy helped us understand that the center of the solar system wasn't the earth but the sun. So there was a shift in terms of that center point.

So from Immanuel Kant you have the rise of subjectivism. This works itself out through the 19th century and it impacts everything from theology to physics down through the 20th century. So this is a major revolution in thought, that man can't know truth as it is anymore. But they still believed there was something that would unify truth. This is still called modernism. Postmodernism really isn't a new development in my opinion. It's just the natural consequence of modernism. It's modernism gone to seed.

As a result of Immanuel Kant's subjectivism it developed skepticism about knowledge in the 19th century, skepticism about God, skepticism about knowing truth, and this leads to the nihilism of Nietzsche and existentialism where you don't really know truth. There's no overall meaning; there's no hope. It's a black, dark world out there because we only know what we think we know. We don't know anything for sure. It's pretty hopeless. And God is dead and finally we [Western civilization] wakes up in the 1980s and begins to realize this. It took us a couple of hundred years for these ideas to really impact the everyday man on the street.

Actually what postmodernism is, in my opinion, is just existentialism played out to its ultimate, logical conclusion which is we don't know anything, we can't say anything for sure and there are no absolutes, and even that we're not sure about. So we're just left in a black hole. Where this goes ethically is that since there are no absolutes, we don't have a criteria as thinkers to determine who has a right view. This means we have many different cultures and now they're all equal. The culture of the most primitive stone-age tribe is no better or no worse than the most advanced enlightened culture or the most advanced western civilization culture in all of history. We don't have any criteria for making those kinds of judgments.

 The way this works out even in this whole thing with Duck Dynasty is that you can't say one person's right and another person's wrong because there's no ultimate criteria for doing that. This little episode is really a great illustration of how our whole western civilization has completely lost all balance and is falling apart, and it can't succeed because it's lost the one thing that gave it coherence, which was the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God that gave meaning to every detail within society and within culture. So that's postmodernism. In the literature there's a lot of debate about what its characteristics are. It's just a collapse of all enlightenment thought since the time of Descartes showing that it can't provide any answers for mankind or the human race.

Now another way of looking at this that I think is very important is looking at thought in general where we look at the world and we see all the details of the world. This can relate to people, anything we observe such as things, events, language, history, or law. All of these are details but we need to have something that gives order and organization and meaning to just this mass of data that's out there. We believe there's an overarching story or an overarching truth or reality that gives meaning to all those details. Those are the universals in terms of God, absolutes, morals, and ideas. But when Immanuel Kant came along and said you can't know things as they are, you can only know things you can perceive, up to that point we had universals that gave meaning to everything else. Buy in terms of knowledge and intellectual theory, what happens with Immanuel Kant is he draws a brick wall and you can't go upstairs and look to see what's up there that gives meaning to what's downstairs so you're just left with this mass of data downstairs and nothing that can give it meaning.

So what happens now is there's no meaning, there's no God, there's just existential darkness as the only reality and so it leads to a culture of despair. No wonder drugs and alcoholism and all kinds of extreme things have entered into our culture because people are desperately trying to find something that gives them some hope and some meaning because intellectually they're told there's no hope and no meaning and they're just the result of a cosmic accident. They're not any better than anything else. The only thing that gives meaning is the Scriptures.

So where I'm going with all of this and what we have to understand is that a culture teaches the people within the culture how to think about the things around them. We've grown up in a modern, postmodern culture and these ideas and the relativism in there is very much a part of our background. If you've been a believer for a long time and been taking in the Word, then it's not so much. If you're a young believer, then more so. But this is the process of spiritual growth to remove the garbage and put the truth in place. For a lot of younger people today just coming to know the Lord in their 20s and 30s they've got a whole history behind them where there are no absolutes, there's no truth. They really wrestle with understanding how these things come together.

Now to compare Christianity with modernism and postmodernism. In terms of the human nature Biblical Christianity says that mankind is thoughtfully created in the image of God, spiritually and physically. He's composed of a spiritual component and a physical component. In modernism humans are material machines: the universe is purely physical; nothing exists beyond our senses. In postmodernism there's no real opinion on human nature. They're suspicious of any dogmatic assertion. How can you say anything for sure? You don't know anything.

In terms of morality, in Biblical morality, mankind is internally corrupted by sin but he can still do relatively good things though short of divine righteousness. In modernism man is considered inherently good. See we've had four or five generations raised on pure modernism, that man is basically good. That's why they vote Democrat because they don't understand that the whole philosophy of the Democrat party is grounded upon the assumption that man is basically good. Of course man isn't basically good so they're living in a fantasy world. In postmodernism it denies objective evil. Now if you deny objective evil, how can you condemn the Holocaust? It's impossible intellectually. For the postmodern morality is just a cultural construct. There are no absolutes. In other words it's just your opinion if you think the Nazi's thought the Holocaust was good and that was their opinion. We don't have a meta-narrative to discern whether you're right or whether the Nazis were right. All we have is what works. What works today may not be what works tomorrow so you may not be able to make those kinds of judgments.

In terms of free will, biblical Christianity teaches that we have free will. It's diminished by sin but we're still morally responsible for the decisions we make. In modernism every human being is purely autonomous and self-governing and they can choose their own direction because there's no external authority. It goes back to that. There's no God. There's no external authority. You can just do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it.

In postmodernism people are products of their own culture and they only imagine that they're self-governing. So you are determined more by your culture, then by your volition. So it's somebody else's fault. In terms of reason, in Biblical Christianity reason is necessary but it's not the basis for understanding reality. Reason can discover some truth but revelation is also needed. Revelation is what ultimately governs what is true. In modernism, rationalism and empiricism are the only bases for discovering truth but post-modernists deny objective reason. Rationality, they say, is just a myth. It's just a veneer. It really doesn't give solutions.

In terms of progress or history, Biblical Christianity teaches that mankind isn't advancing toward anything. Advances are positive but there's no utopia brought in by man. Whereas in modernism, mankind is not basically evil so he's improvable, he's perfectible. So mankind is progressing by science and reason.

Post-modernism denies any kind of objective reason. Rationalism is just a myth so there's no hope there at all. This influences the world we live in. It influences politics. It influences law. It influences social studies. I think social studies are more evil in terms of challenging Christians than the sciences are. All of us have been impacted by this from the music we listen to because most of the music that has been popular in the 20th century grew out of either a pure modernist worldview, a romanticized worldview or a post-modern worldview so the values that are expressed in both the music and the lyrics are grounded in modernism or post-modernism, not in a pure theistic Biblical worldview. You can apply that to every area of human thought.

When we look at a passage like Romans 12:2 which says that we are be transformed by the renewing of the mind it's learning things like homosexuality is sin, lying is sin, murder is sin, all of these things are sins so we shouldn't do them but it's more than just exchanging one set of values for another. You can be a post-modern relativist and have as your personal ethic a biblically correct ethic. The problem is you're doing the right thing in a wrong way. The wrong way is that you're still thinking like your culture in a post-modern way. That little adage that a right thing done in a wrong way applies to thinking. You can think right thoughts but in a wrong framework and it's just as wrong as if you're thinking wrong thoughts in a wrong framework. So we have to think about not only what we think, the content, but how we think. We have to learn to think biblically. We have to learn to become radical, militant biblicists in how we think as well as what we think.

So Paul is going to take this principle that he's outlined in the first two verses and start applying them in terms of the body of Christ in the rest of chapter 12. Then applying that to the realm of government in chapter 13 as well as in relation to one another and then applying that to loving one another in the last part of chapter 13 and on into chapter 14 and even into the beginning of chapter 15. So we'll come back and press on into that next area dealing with spiritual gifts next time.