Friday, March 25, 2011


Continuing with the observations D. A. Carson makes about the modern age, his fourth point is that it has a focus on method. As we consider these six observations, I think it’s worth noting that it is very often the case that a particular thing, in and of itself, might not be bad or wrong. The problem is (and I’m increasingly convinced that this is where we get ourselves in trouble), once un-tethered from a basic Biblical worldview, we find ourselves placing hope and trust in wrong things, the wrong way, for the wrong reason. This is true in little and big ways. As I’ve said before, our task is to put things in their proper place.

The focus on method characteristic of the modern age assumes the systematic formula of Common foundation + common (agreed upon) methods = knowledge, truth, conclusion. In the academic community, one was to state expectations and assumptions, clarify methods of procedure and produce conclusions. It was often the case that conclusions (good or bad) would be nullified if one’s methods for producing said conclusions were flawed or unacceptable. We can see how this places tremendous trust in method and sets the stage for great expectations from scientific investigation and empiricism.

Returning to the third observation regarding foundationalism, we can see that a change of foundation has a huge impact upon this formula. If the foundation includes God, intelligent design or recognition of reason, the stage is set for one’s methods producing considerably different conclusions than if the foundation excluded the aforementioned. Generally speaking, it is the case that methods will change more often and more easily than will foundations. However, when considering the postmodern age (which is ultimately my intention), we are looking at shifts in the foundation. In the modern age, the error is simply too much trust in human reason, independent of God. Though God was often included, He was often not in His proper place.

I conclude with a caution. It could well be argued that Descartes had good intentions as he attempted to find a way to encourage a common foundation upon which all could agree to proceed. However, minor shifts and “compromises” opened the door to rather unfortunate long-term results. As my ultimate interest relates to advancing the kingdom of God as opposed to advancing scientific or philosophic progress, I am cautiously suspicious that many of the tactics employed by the church in our age to create common ground upon which to engage and reach our postmodern culture will open the door to rather unfortunate long-term results.

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