Christians Hoodwinked by Modernism

n-t-wrightI’m currently reading my review copy of N.T. Wright’s new book, Surprised by Scripture. In the book, he takes up exploring how the Bible can be applied to some of the most pressing contemporary issues facing us. In the coming week or so, I’ll post up a fuller book review. However, I wanted to briefly look at an issue brought up in his chapter How the Bible Reads the Modern World.

In this specific chapter, Wright sheds light on how a modernist, Enlightenment paradigm has directed the way the Bible is read in much of the western world today. But, surprisingly, what many might not know is that the modernist template was actually adopted by most Christians in the western hemisphere as well.

How so?

Let me first start by quoting some of Wright’s thoughts: Continue reading

Modernism & Scripture

I love Scripture. Dearly love it. I love to read it, love to study it, love to reflect on it, love to teach it, love to hear God speak in and through it. I was drawn to this book just over 15 years ago, on that radical day of transformation when I entered into new creation in Christ. And from the beginning I have been a part of God’s people who also hold Scripture with the highest regard. In one sense, I would be somewhat baffled if one says they love Jesus and did not love Scripture.

As a side caveat, and as I have mentioned before, I am no philosopher (nor historian or scientist). I function mainly in a shepherding-teaching role within the local church context. I touch somewhat deeply into theology. But my goal is to, in some way or fashion, help God’s people build a biblical framework to help them engage in their world today. Not the word of the first century or the 16th century or the 20th century. The world of today.

Having said that, I think the best way to engage our world today with biblical teaching is to read it with a first century understanding (as best we can!) and then appropriate such teaching within a 21st century framework. No, this is not about letting culture dictate to us. Rather, it’s simply about letting God’s dynamic and organic revelation become real today.

Moving forward in my just over 15 years of Christian life, while my love for Scripture has remained very strong, my general theological and philosophical perspective of how to engage with Scripture has gone through a paradigm shift. I’ve become less and less committed to the more modernistic, Cartesian, empirical approach to knowing truth and have begun to slowly embrace a more postmodern, practical realist approach to knowing truth.

A modern approach centres everything in objectivity. Subjective truth is not a firm foundation. Objective, verifiable, evidence-based truth is firm.

Sounds good, right?

I mean, God is absolute truth and Scripture is his word. Thus, Scripture must be absolute, or objective, truth.

Well, I’m not so sure it works out that way. Continue reading