Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Have you ever suddenly felt like you were speaking an alien tongue when you are trying to reason with someone about what the Bible is saying? Perhaps you both have seen the actual text of the scripture you want to discuss and have read it alike. But rather than seeing the Bible as the word of God, as you do, they read it suspiciously as a document written by untrustworthy characters? Believe it or not, this is not necessarily an indication that they are atheistic or agnostic; though they well could be. There actually is a good explanation for why you get this impression.
To get to the bottom of this difference and so that we may be successful in reaching non-believers, it is a good idea to understand a premise of thought which is very prevalent in our society. A majority of people born since about 1970 have been educated to think in a way that is different than in previous ages. This mindset is usually referred to as post modernist. In fact, philosophers tell us we are living in the Post Modern Age. Don’t get dizzy or anything, just yet, because I hope to explain this as clearly as I can.
One of the underlying tenants of post modern thought is that while absolute truth exists, reality is totally perceptive and, therefore, subjective. This philosophy, one of subjective reality, permeates every aspect of 21st Century life. Potentially, truth becomes what ever you feel (subjective reality) that it is. Just like former President Clinton famously indicated, the definition of “is” becomes the point. Whatever you think “is” means, simply, is. Are you still with me?
A secondary result of this thinking which is widespread in our current age makes us notice the strong fear of being judgmental, which so many greatly fear like it was death itself. This fear of being even slightly judgmental is, I think, actually where political correctness originates. Now, to be deemed by anyone as judgmental makes us instantly untrustworthy and biased in our views and necessarily unsophisticated. To say something is wrong because the Bible says so is considered absurd and the Bible must in some way be prejudicial. Besides this, it is not “cool” to be judgmental. This is probably the most important aspect of this. It is no longer popular to believe in absolute principles. There will be a conflict of opinions between believers and the post modernists because the believer understands that righteous judgment is required on his part (John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”) while any hypocritical judgment is understood to be sinful (Matthew 7:5). The post modernist believes that no one is really qualified to say what is right and wrong.
A third part of this is that our post modern culture believes that all ideas are valid. We are free to believe and practice whatever we desire, in the name of diversity and tolerance. There is nothing wrong at all in diversity nor is there anything wrong with trying to be tolerant when we can. But in this open minded world more and more people have gravitated toward the view which the pagan Romans held – “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” It is easy for even the Christian, in this environment, to have a hedonistic view of the world rather than the proper godly view.
The previous three paragraphs have pointed out three of the most obvious points of post modern thought. Dealing with this makes us conclude that this is the reason we have a hard time communicating with those who simply do not look at any authority as being absolute, even God’s. This “philosophy and vain deceit” undermines the ability of many, many people to the simple truth of God’s word.
In the face of such widespread inability to accept the truth of the Bible because of the effects of post modern thought, it makes us, once again, take stock of who we are and how we should think and act. We should once again remember, Acts 17:28-31, the apostle Paul said, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets (Greek philosophers, mostly) have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Jesus told his disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19) James said, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4-5) Our lives must show this relationship with God; not living like, or looking like, or acting like, nor talking like the world. Post modernist philosophy is of the world and therefore ungodly and if we have been duped into thinking it is the “cool” way to show our sophistication in our approach to everything, we are lost. Too bad if that sounded judgmental! It was intended to be a very judgmental statement, but is absolutely according to godly wisdom.