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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Perspicuity v. Postmodernity

[Quick confession before I post. I'm not really in the mood to post today. It appears some people have been reading my blog, for which I am grateful, but feel that I am writing thoughts directly for them. That is not the case. A conversation with someone may have sparked thoughts of mine, but I do not mean to write in any way that incites anger or hostility in anyone. I am not gunning for anybody, and if you see some fruits of a conversation with you expressed in this blog...please do not view that as me trying to rebuke via the web, but rather that our conversation sparked my mind, and I am articulating my thoughts.]

Can perspicuity and postmodernity coexist?

I've been reading through the Westminster Confession of Faith recently. I'd never read it and have heard many people refer to it. Something being perspicuous simply means it is "clear or lucid." One of the delights of the Word is that we believe that when the Holy Spirit illumines the soul, the Scriptures are understandable for the untrained and even a child. This does not mean every passage is easy, for Peter himself says Pauls words can be hard to understand. However, the gospel message is clearly there and definable for us.

But postmodernity is far from embracing the concept of perspicuity. For an example, just try to define postmodernity in two sentences. People are no longer interested in quick "pat" answers, nor are they content to just hear, "You just need to believe." They want to wrestle with things, and they want to know that we wrestle as well.

I think Deuteronomy 29:29 is a great example of this tension:
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law."

There are things we can not know about God. Yet, God in His grace has revealed things about Himself, and He desires that we know these things. It is wrong for us to claim knowledge about that which only God knows (secret things), but it is also wrong for us to claim that those things which have been revealed are still a mystery. Those things revealed are necessary for salvation; for observing the law allows us to know the will of God and to see how we fall short, thus our need for grace.

But where is the line between mystery and absolute? How can we know when things are clear and when they are vague?

Can we not start with the gospel? Therefore, doesn't a person need to accept some absolutes to become a believer or present the gospel to others? On points of contention, is if fair to say that those things which contradict the gospel message are clearly wrong?

If perspicuity and postmodernity have to battle, I know who wins that fight. Ultimately, it means I have to abandon the tag of postmodernist, and become defined as a Biblicist. I do not have to deny all that postmodernism teaches (for some things are very true and Biblical), but I will have to deny some. Yet I don't desire to deny some of what the Bible teaches so I can remain postmodern.

I praise God for being so gracious to reveal Himself to us and His way of salvation, yet delight in the fact that He alone is God and I can fully wrap my fingers around Who He is.


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