OceanSide church of Christ
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POSTMODERN THOUGHT (5)
Victor M. Eskew
In our previous articles, we examined three foundational elements of postmodern thought: pluralism, relative truth, and tolerance. Understanding these concepts helps us to understand what is transpiring in our society today. We know things are not like they used to be. We ask ourselves: “What has happened?” The answer lies in a system of thought that has invaded the United States and that has made inroads into the church.
In this article, we want to look at the fourth platform of postmodern thought. This element is called secularism. Secularism rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. This element of postmodern thought started to be pushed in the 1960s. It has gradually grown through the years and had impacted many aspects of our society: our government, our schools, our workplaces, our churches, and our homes.
Secularism biggest cry is: “There must be a separation between church and state.” Some individuals would have us to believe that this statement is found in the United States Constitution. This cry has enabled atheists and other anti-religious people to remove God, Jesus Christ, and the Word of God from so many parts of our society.
The list of attacks on religion by the secularist is very, very long. The following are a few things that have happened in our Judeo-Christian nation.
1. Prayer is not allowed in many schools.
2. Bible reading is not allowed in many schools.
3. The Ten Commandments have been removed from some public places.
4. Crosses have been removed from some public places.
5. Christmas programs are not allowed in many schools.
6. Manger scenes are not allowed in some public places.
7. Individuals want “In God We Trust” removed from our money.
8. Individuals want to remove “one nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
9. Chaplains in the military have been restricted as the words they can say to the soldiers with whom they work (Ex., prayers “in Jesus’ name” are forbidden).
10. In some places, the government has attempted to monitor the sermons that ministers deliver so no “hate speech” will occur.
People try to deny it, but Christianity is under attack because of postmodern thinking. Christianity is still allowed in our homes and church buildings. Everywhere else postmodern thinkers are seeking to eliminate it.
In this discussion, there needs to be some understanding of the phrase, “separation of church and state.” It is not a phrase that is found in the Constitution of the United States. It comes from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Baptists who lived in Danbury, CT after Mr. Jefferson became the third President of the United States. In the letter, he declared that there is “a wall of separation between church and state” to prevent government interference with religious activities. Two things are very important to know about Jefferson’s letter. One, his letter is not the law of the land. Two, Thomas Jefferson understood the First Amendment and was assuring those in Danbury, CT that the Amendment would be followed.
Another aspect of this discussion that needs to be understood is the First Amendment of the Constitution. It opens with these words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Two things about religion are noted in this Amendment. First, the government of the U.S. cannot establish a national religion. Second, Congress cannot interfere with the free practice of a religious group. The prohibitions of the First Amendment are place squarely upon the government. They have nothing to do with the government forbidding all aspects of Christianity from public places and from things that are controlled by the government.
A final point that needs to be deeply understood, especially by Christians, is that government is a God-given institution. Paul wrote: “…the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Pilate was reminded by Jesus Himself that “thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above…” (John 19:11). According to the psalmist, God is “the governor among the nations” (Ps. 22:28). With this understanding, it is foolish to think that God has no interest in religion. It is a false belief that the church should keep as far away from government as it possibly can. If the government is separated from the church, then the government is separated from the truth because the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15). This is precisely why the United States finds itself in its present condition. The government has become secular. It is opposed to religion. It stands in opposition to the truth of God’s Word. The church has retreated because of the supposed “separation of church and state.” Thus, our nation promotes and protects such things as abortion, adultery, homosexuality, gambling, lying, corruption, poor work ethics, waste, and those who violate the laws of our land. The only thing that will bring our nation back to God is an understanding and practice of God’s holy Word. Under the Old Covenant, the king was required to have a copy of God’s law and follow it at all times. “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them” (Deut. 17:18-19). If the king was to follow the Old Law which was inferior to the New Covenant, why shouldn’t rulers be required to adhere to the teachings of a superior covenant, the New Testament of Jesus Christ?
“Get God out!” This is the cry of secularism. “Separation of church and state” has been the means whereby the secularist has attempted to accomplish this goal. They have been extremely successful. Even Christians have accepted this concept, hook, line, and sinker. Our nation has drifted far from God and His holy Word. It will continue to do so as long as secularism is accepted by the people.