I was chatting with a Baptist friend of mine about having discussions concerning God and religion with people. My friend is very active preaching to people and is very open to discussing the big topics of God and religion. She remarked that she often feels like she is speaking a different language to people, like they simply cannot understand what she is saying not because they have rejected it but because they have no ounce or shred of understanding of what she is saying to begin with.
This made me think of a similar discussion that I had with some friends over a campfire one weekend last month. One friend remarked that she was a post-modernist which lead to a discussion about post-modernism and relative versus absolute truth. In the course of the discussion, someone pointed out that we were having a discussion about different values and that if I saw that the approach the other person was making was coming from a different value set than me than I would understand (also alluding to the need for the conversation to end). But I pointed out that such thinking was just the same basis as the one-side of the discussion and brought no resolution. And they didn’t understand. Talking about values or trying to find a consensus without any tangible resolution is the exact opposite of one whole part of the basis of the discussion and disagreement. In other words, if there is in fact one absolute truth to understand in this world, whether we come from different values or perspectives or approaches (or whatever you want to call it) there is a common place we can end and resolve the discussion. In fact, the motive for even having the discussion in the first place is a desire to get closer to this absolute truth.
We are so deep into this post-modern world that God has been reasonably declared dead. Not in the real sense, God is very much alive, will always be very much alive and will not go anywhere. But in the sense that for the lives of everyday people, for the large assumptions and motivations that shape our society and our relationships, there is no inclusion or room for God– or any higher power or truth for that matter. And we are generations past this introduction into our world, and the ideology itself is so pervasive that it has influenced every single aspect of our lives since that introduction, including within the church. We’ve all learned a new language and left the old one completely behind, and in the process of leaving the old one behind we’ve left the poetry, writings and wisdom that were gathered up in that now foreign tongue and replaced it with relativism.
Having a discussion where you not just believe but know and live your life and allow society and relationships to be formed around you with an understanding of an absolute truth, a natural order, the existence of God with a person who does not is not just a matter of believer and unbeliever. Certainly not like how we are told it was in apologetic books of the past. Today, the unbeliever is not someone who has been raised in a society that accepts God and thus has been influenced and taught all about the reality of His existence and an absolute truth only to reject it, they are rather someone who has simply never ever come into contact with any understanding or persuasion of there even being a high power, let alone the Christian God. You are speaking Latin and you’re leaning on Latin style prose and poetry to influence a Chinese (picked only because of its distance from Latin in any sense, English would not be an accurate analogy for obvious reasons) speaking man who not just has no idea what you are saying but has had absolutely no exposure to your language, prose or poetry. They not just fail to understand you, you actually sound utterly foreign and completely baseless to them.
That is the state of the world today. And more and more believers themselves are falling into the trap of post-modern thinking and are comporting lives and carrying on themselves as if there is no absolute truth in the world while still calling themselves Christians. And many “churches” encourage or outright condone such behaviours by adopting false doctrines. They speak of finding values, common ground or shut down discussions on topics that demand our attention and exploration in order to get closer to that absolute truth (and thus better, or more divine). Or they focus on matters of perceived social justice above all else which is a world entirely founded upon the principles of relative truth and post-modernism. Or, like the horrendous Gospel of Plenty, they warp and twist the very real teachings of the Bible to the perverse understandings of the world.
But I wrote this note because I am curious what your own experience with this has been in the past and presently. I would say that I find myself in a very lonely place when I think about how different my worldview is from those of my peers around me. I feel exhausted in having discussions with people about religion that can only best be compared to telling a person who has never heard of veins and the heart that they are bleeding to death and need to take action. I know there are like minded people out there, I am not unique in how I see or understand the world, but we are not the default state of society, certainly not in the West. I am curious how you feel about this.