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Mystery, Christianity, and Postmodernism

August 2, 2017

“Great indeed, we confess is the mystery of godliness,” (1 Tim. 3:16a, ESV).

The contemporary philosophy of the day, i.e. postmodernism, is not popular by accident. One of the chief properties of postmodernism is the assertion of contradictions. As we have mentioned before, this philosophy teaches that all worldviews are unreliable, and we cannot know they are true, because they are the product of cultural limitations. While sounding humble and plausible at the outset, when the standard of the worldview is applied to itself, it self-destructs. Notice, that if all worldviews are unreliable and unknowable, then the worldview that all worldviews are unreliable and unknowable, is itself unreliable and unknowable. The problem the postmodernist has, is that he believes that the worldview of postmodernism is reliable, and that is why he applies it to everything. So then, he asserts the reliability of the worldview, while asserting the unreliability of the worldview by it’s own definition. He has asserted a contradiction.

While a full discussion of the implications of asserting contradictions cannot occur in a small post like this, we can expound briefly. By asserting a contradiction, and believing contradictions are not an issue, everything the postmodernist says also means the opposite of what he says. So, when a postmodernist says, “I believe all worldviews are unreliable,” he also has just said, “I believe all worldviews are reliable.” Since asserting contradictions does away with all distinctions, he has also said, “Next Friday is Tuesday at the gym.”

The interesting thing is that sometimes contradictions sound profound. They sound this way because they go beyond our abilities to understand them. As Christians, we should realize that experiencing profound mystery is a beautiful thing. The problem is that postmodern mystery is non-sense. Mystery is also non-mystery, and also a puppy. The result is intellectual suicide.

Christianity displays it’s finer profundity, and surpassing philosophical aesthetics, compared to the human philosophy of postmodernism, in the following way. Christianity asserts mystery, but not contradictory non-sense. Think of the Trinity. God is One Being, subsisting in Three Persons. This is a wonderful mystery that should stagger us. But importantly, it is not a contradiction. If we said God was one being and three beings, that would be a contradiction. If we said God is three persons and one person, that is a contradiction. But saying that God is One Being subsisting in Three Persons, is not a contradiction. It is mysterious, but non-contradictory (for more on this see The Trinity is Not a Contradiction). The same is true of the dual nature of Christ. We say that Christ is fully God, and fully human. This is profound, and staggering, but it is not contradictory.

Paul said, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness.” Amen and amen. Human beings desire an experience with the mysterious and profound because we were designed to have a relationship with God, who is beyond us. We resonate with mystery because we were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27, Rom. 2:15), and were designed to know the God who is beyond full human comprehension. The beauty of Christianity is that it gives us exactly what we were designed for. It gives us the experience of the mysterious, yet without having to assert contradictions. We can have a knowable, and self-consistent worldview, that does not dissolve into non-sense and meaninglessness. We can know the true God, through the true Savior, Jesus Christ, and fall on our knees in worship of God who is great beyond measure, and mysterious, yet, beautiful, knowable and rational. Praise God for the wonder of His truth, and the glory of His Being!

Let’s meditate and pray on these things today.

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