In my earlier post, we saw how critical theory approaches truth. In this one I planned to discuss the four overarching themes of postmodernism, the things you see manifest in and undergirding any application of Theory whether it is critical race theory, queer theory, fat studies or any of the ever-expanding groups who use Theory as the lens through which to view the world. As with any worldview, we need to understand the underlying assumptions and beliefs so we can compare it to Christianity. Christian discernment demands this investigation and comparison (Acts 17:11). However, the task I set for myself was too ambitious for a single post. So, in this post I’m going to address only the first of these themes, the blurring of boundaries. In future posts I may address the others as time and future topics permit.
For information’s sake, the four themes are:
- The blurring of boundaries
- The power of language
- Cultural relativism
- The loss of the individual and the universal
These all operate under what Lindsay & Pluckrose call the “postmodern knowledge principle,” which Is:
“Radical skepticism about whether objective knowledge or truth is obtainable and a commitment to cultural constructivism.”
This is essentially what we discussed in the last post regarding how truth is determined in this belief system.
THE BLURRING OF BOUNDARIES
Theory says boundaries are always artificial and virtually always harmful. This does not mean only things like national borders but every line of demarcation from the macro level of nations to the micro level of the gender or sexuality of an individual. The authors write:
“Almost every socially significant category has been intentionally complicated and problematized by postmodern Theorists in order to deny such categories any objective validity and disrupt the systems of power that might exist across them.”
For example, queer Theorist Judith Butler maintains that gender is completely a social construct because for her “the very existence of coherent and stable categories like ‘woman’ leads to totalitarian and oppressive discourses.”
This is a recurring theme across all manifestations of Theory, if people are oppressed, unequal or in any way disadvantaged it is because all aspects of society are designed to conspire against them, even things that appear to be innate, natural or helpful. The only reason any boundary exists is to oppress people and to keep them from being who they really are.
How does this compare to Christian belief?
The God we serve is a God of boundaries. The first act God performed on his creation was to separate light from darkness (Genesis 1:4). In fact, the entire account of creation is God establishing boundaries, boundaries between light and darkness, day and night, heaven and earth, land and sea, one animal kind and another, animals and human beings, men and women.
Psalm 74:17 says of God “You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.”
And this boundary setting by God is not only regarding the physical creation.
God has ordained (set boundaries for) how we are to behave, how we are to relate to him and to one another. These are revealed in his Law. Things like do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not murder, honor your father and mother. This is not in order to oppress one group or another but for our good and his glory. He’s even set boundaries for our very lives which will last only as long as he has ordained (Job 14:5).
God also ordains the existence of and the boundaries of nations as well as their rising and falling. (Daniel 2:21, Acts 17:26).
In the Garden, God set a boundary for Adam and Eve. They could eat of any tree in the Garden except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of course, the actual boundary he set was between the creation and the Creator. God had the right to tell them what they could and could not do. God had the right to tell them who they were and to demand they operate within his creative intent for them. But they listened to the serpent who told them to ignore the boundary, that the boundary existed to oppress them and to keep them from their full potential. Peter Jones in his excellent book The Other Worldview points out that elimination of boundaries is endemic to pagan spirituality and once a culture eliminates the distinction between the creation and the Creator, all other boundaries begin to be eliminated as well.
The world hates boundaries because the world hates God.
This is not to say all boundaries are good and should be supported without question. But to claim that all restraint, all boundaries are tools of oppression is not a Christian position.
Of course, the ultimate boundary is between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, between the children of God and the children of the Devil (John 8:44). The boundary between these is Jesus Christ. Those who have repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ are among the children of God, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity or nationality (Revelation 7:9-10). Those who have not are among the children of the Devil and, except they repent, will spend eternity in hell, again, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity or nationality.
Boundaries are necessary, good and loving (Proverbs 13:24, Galatians 5:13). It is throwing off boundaries that leads to oppression (Exodus 32:21-25, Proverbs 29:18), both in the here-and-now and for all eternity.
May we be people who embrace the boundaries set by God, who love them and who see them as gifts from him and not burdens to bear (Matthew 11:30). May we desire freedom to obey the Lord – for both ourselves and our neighbors – over bondage to sin and self.
PS: This is not just a philosophical discussion. Ideas have consequences. Children are right now being taught to ignore the God-given boundaries of gender evidenced by their bodies and encouraged to explore the possibility that they are something other than what God created them to be. This has led to record numbers of, particularly girls, adopting a “transgender” identity and pursuing dangerous treatments that have the potential to permanently damage their health – all in pursuit of a lie.
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