Spiritual Discernment

Postmodernism, spiritual discernment No Comments

Protagoras (ca. 490 BC-420 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato.  His most famous quote is, “Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not.”  In philosophical terms, this is called epistemological relativism.  Epistemology is the study of the nature and scope of knowledge and relativism is the belief that reality is determined by subjective thoughts and feelings.  Epistemological relativism is an aspect of postmodernism.  Postmodernism is in conflict with the Christian worldview in America.  Protagoras’ quote, “man is the measure of all things” takes the focus off of God and puts it on man.  This leads to a real difference in how one sees the world.  One area in which this is true is spiritual discernment.  What is spiritual discernment and why is it important?
What is Spiritual Discernment?
Discernment means “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish, to divide.”  It is a function of the mind of man.  There are two derivative meanings:  (1)  to evaluate according to a standard; and (2) to condemn or acquit (disapprove or approve).
Spiritual discernment involves the ability to distinguish between what God approves and disapproves based upon the righteous standard of His holy Word.  Objective truth exists and it is found in God’s Word (John 17:17).  Christians are set apart from the world by conformity to God’s Word.  By faith, we accept and follow what God desires and shun what He condemns.  We must be able to distinguish between truth and error, good from evil and right from wrong.  Spiritual discernment is applied in the areas of: words, actions, and character.  The purpose of spiritual discernment is to stop the advancement of worldliness in the church, prevent the infiltration of erroneous doctrines and keep the church pure.
Why Do Many Lack Spiritual Discernment?
First, God’s Word is no longer recognized as the standard by which to judge words, actions and character.  The rejection of God’s Word leads to establishing approval for all types of behavior that God defines as sinful.  The rejection of God’s Word has paved the way for many of the social changes that are taking place in America today.  Many individuals and groups of individuals work to marginalize and eliminate any influence of God’s Word on the hearts of men.  This leads to tremendous advancement in evil.  American culture is changing, but the change is not in God’s direction.  Evil is advancing in the form of abortions, gambling, homosexuality,drug use including alcohol, sexual immorality which includes fornication and adultery.  When God’s Word is correctly understood, these sins are eliminated as disapproved by God.  True wisdom and knowledge come from God (I Cor. 2:13-15).  Both knowledge and wisdom are essential to spiritual discernment.
Second, many lack spiritual discernment because they have rejected sound reason and logic.  Today’s prevailing philosophy is:  “if it feels right, then, do it.”  Feelings, especially pleasurable feelings, are often tied to the lusts of the flesh.  We seek emotional highs instead of conformity to God’s Will.  The result:  it is no longer a matter of what God wants, but what I like.  God has created us in His image.  Consequently, man is a rational being with the ability to think, discern, understand and decide.  We can understand God’s Will (Eph. 5:16).  We can know the truth (John 8:32).  Equipped with both knowledge of the truth and understanding of God’s Will we can spiritually discern those things that God approves and disapproves.
Third, many lack spiritual discernment because they have accepted the “no judging” rule of our culture.  In postmodernism, all judgment is suspended because there is no objective truth.  Every person determines what is right for them based upon their own subjective feelings and perceptions.  Every person creates their own reality.  This means that one person cannot stand in judgment upon another because there is no basis upon which to make value judgments.  Some even use Matthew 7:1 to forbid all judging.  However, Jesus was not forbidding all types of judging.  He was forbidding self-righteous judgments based upon self-righteous standards.  In John 7:24, Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  In Luke 12:57, Jesus said, “Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?”  So, the Lord commands certain types of judgment.  Indeed, spiritual discernment is essential to making the correct decisions regarding our words, actions, and character that will please God and make us acceptable to Him.
Jesus will judge us in the last day!  (John 12:48, II Cor. 5:10).  What criteria or standard will He use?  The answer is in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him:  the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Divided We Stand

Postmodernism No Comments

Now that we are past the election, please consider some important facts about our country.
1.  We really are a Red America (Republicans) and Blue America (Democrats).  We are divided.  The popular vote showed Barack Obama had 62,611,250  votes to Mitt Romney’s 59,134,475.
2.  7 out of 10 Democrats say the economy is getting better while nearly 6 in 10 Republicans say it is getting worse.
3.  38% of voters blamed Obama for the poor economy, while 53% blamed George W. Bush.  This was one of the most significant factors in the outcome of the election.
4.  In Maryland, voters cast ballots for tolerance.  They upheld a same-sex marriage law, approved in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and embraced a major expansion of casino gambling.  Voters in Minnesota rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.  Nationally, 49 percent of voters wanted their states to recognize same-sex marriage and 46 percent were opposed.
5.  The country is changing.  Twenty years ago, 87 percent of the electorate was white.  Today (2012), only 72 percent was white.
6.  93% of the black vote went for Obama.
The United States is a divided country.  We are divided ideologically, morally, and spiritually.  There are now many different views of reality.  What has happened?  Can anyone argue that we have changed from a biblical worldview to a postmodern worldview?  The way God defines reality and the way a postmodern defines reality are two very distinct viewpoints.  God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).  God’s Word liberates men from servitude to sin (John 8:32).  Freedom in Christ is true freedom.  Postmoderns define truth in a totally different way.  Rather than anchoring truth in an objective standard of righteousness, postmoderns create their own reality and so create their own truth.  This makes truth for them totally subjective.  The term “spin” has become a good way of describing the process of creating one’s own reality.  Words are redefined and set in a different grammatical context in order to produce new meaning.  Through this process, one can alter reality to fit one’s personal objectives.  Many people are totally unaware that this is happening, but it is a strong force for social change.
There are four major tenets of postmodernism.  The first is secularization.  This is the process whereby God is replaced with man.  Humanism and materialism increase and dominate the American mind.  The second is privatization.  This is the process whereby God is replaced with self.  Personal preferences serve to validate individual behavior.  What I want or what I like trumps anything God says.  The third is pluralization.  This is the process by which the number of opinions in the private sphere of modern society multiplies at all levels, especially at the level of world views, faiths, and ideologies.  This view holds that all convictions about values are of equal validity, which says in effect that no convictions about values have any validity.  There is no right or wrong.  If there is no right or wrong, then there is no basis for judgment and all judgments are suspended.  The fourth is relativization.  Seven in ten Americans now believe there is no such thing as absolute truth.  There are no set truths.  There are no eternal principles.  In relativism, everything is subjective.
The postmodern mindset and the biblical worldview are in conflict.  This may not explain all of our differences as a nation, but it explains, to a large degree, why we are so divided.


Postmodernism 1 Comment

     Phil Sanders gives some insights into the problem of postmodern thought and how it affects the church of Christ in his book, Adrift. Sanders is an evangelist for the church of Christ.  He has served churches in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas.  He currently is a speaker for the television program, In Search of the Lord’s Way. 
I have recently reviewed this book and posted a copy of the review on the page Book Reviews on this blog.  Please take the time to read this review.  Postmodernism is a worldview that embraces four main tenets: secularization, privatization, pluralization and relativization. Each of these concepts is explained in the book and then application is made to various religious groups including the church of Christ.