Postmodernism and the Language of Faith

POSTMODERNISM AND THE LANGUAGE OF FAITH

INTRODUCTION

Twenty First Century Christianity stands at a unique crossroad historically.  The twin pillars of support that have been evidenced throughout most of the church’s historical time of existence, faith and reason, have been shaken by the cultural adaptations of postmodernism’s tenets of distrust and deconstructional paradigms.  Implementing a philosophical ploy of reductionism, posits of truth, as self-existent equations are no longer seen as valid.  The meta-narrational understanding of history has been replaced with the use of consecutive narratives, or sequential narratives, as Morris points out that: “Literary tension normally refers to the narrative engine that powers a work of fiction,”[1] which then function as available starting points in a disjointed system that may or may not enjoy continuity as a method of communicative equivalency.

Postmodernism’s Historical Root

Propositions concerning interactions, particularly those proposals that are concerned with divisive issues, can become tedious to examine.  Examining the Postmodern angst that has surfaced in the philosophical debates of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is a compelling study, particularly when the origination of the field is considered.  Christ and Culture,[2] by Richard Niebuhr, attempts to draw the reader into a meaningful dialogue concerning a vast array of information that at times appears to exist in a place of conflict.  Utilizing the classic format of literary tension,[3] Niebuhr allows Christ and culture to intermingle.

At times, Christ appears in the guise of the protagonist, at times Christ assumes the role of the antagonist.  Culture is likewise viewed as a shifting entity, transposing itself in identity as either friend or foe, depending on the particular viewpoint that is being addressed.  Most importantly, Niebuhr may actually prove to be the source of origin for the modern deconstructionist movement, as Niebuhr articulates the social neurosis of a philosopher whose views were displaced by a swift influx of realism.  Approaching Christianity as a causative historical force, albeit in a nebulous sense, seems to be a trade mark of Niebuhr.

This Quixotic dilemma causes those who want to truly understand Jesus’ place in the midst of human experience to pause and consider crucial questions about Christ and the various cultural expressions that the church exists within in the cultural milieu of the world’s varied people groups.  Further complications arise, and interest should be titillated, when Niebuhr views Christ as neither for or against culture exclusively.  This can be witnessed in Niebuhr’s treatment of Christ as He who exists above culture and as He who silently moves within the confinement of culture with the express intent of creating a metamorphosis:  transforming culture for expressly divine purposes.  Niebuhr seems to borrow extensively from the Thomistic camp and its assumptions of the Divine or Prime Mover, which is commonly understood as the Cosmological argument for the existence of God.[4]

Although there is a slight betrayal against neutrality, with Niebuhr siding in the classic Augustinian/Calvinistic Transformational camp, Niebuhr diligently pursues objectivity in the field of representational dialogue.  Niebuhr’s personal proclivities are exposed during his presentation of the conversionist vantage point when he maintains that: “in connection with this interest in creation, the conversionist tends to develop a phase of Christology neglected by the dualist.  On the one hand he emphasizes the participation of the: “Word…in creation…On the other hand he is concerned with the redemptive work of God in the incarnation of the Son.”[5]  Viewed as the subtle interactor, Jesus becomes both Savior of the individual and concerned deity who expresses His will within culture.

At times, Niebuhr’s use of the word culture can become trite and trivialized.  This is due to the broad expanse that Niebuhr attempts to navigate in his approach to the subject of culture.  Niebuhr claims that:  “culture is social tradition…[6] culture is a world of values…[7] culture is human achievement…[8] the essence of culture is…the organization of human beings into permanent groups…”[9] among the many other designations pertaining to culture, Christ, and the interaction between the two.  Niebuhr identifies this as “The Enduring Problem.”[10]  The difficulties of narrowing cultural considerations and definitions as presented in Christ and Culture cannot be ignored.

Nor can the problems that are associated with “religion, state and culture”[11] be underestimated either.  Niebuhr probably is at his greatest place of insight when he declares speech to be the basis of culture.[12]  Communications restrictions of mobility and freedom to interact cause a paradoxical equation to be created when culture is examined.  Added to the complexity is Aquinas’ adapted views of “both and with Christ…far above culture…[13] that is contrasted against Schleirmacher, Hegel, etc., religion within the limits of reason…Christ of culture” view,[14] highlights the gamut of divergent approaches to the subject at hand.  This is addressed even further when Niebuhr’s personal prejudices against the Christ against Culture are exposed in his statements:  “Man not only speaks but thinks with the aid of the language of culture…He (man) cannot rid himself of political beliefs and economic customs by rejecting the more or less external institutions.”[15]  These statements appear to be gross over simplifications of the opposing views, which do not delve into the causal conditions that created those particular places of thought.  Although this may be perceived as a potential flaw in the work, there are greater contributions that need to be evaluated.

Historical Angst

Niebuhr’s time period in writing Christ and Culture should be examined in the greater equation when evaluating Niebuhr’s work and what it may have prophetically espoused circa 1951.  The angst that is apparent throughout the book can be seen as a residual, effective process that followed WWII.  Mankind, rather than advancing toward a Utopian existence, delved into the depths of depravity and inhumane experiences throughout the 20th century Christ and Culture exquisitely captures the capsizing of the enlightenments hopes and dreams.  Mankind, rather than progressing through knowledge and industrialization, proved the infinite possibilities of injustice, brutality and homicidal intent that lurk within mankind, the creator of social networks and societies rife with depravities corruption.

The social inadequacies were exposed and society was found wanting.  The net result:  a postmodern outlook.  Society influx is an institution that cannot hope to resolve the dilemma of sin.  Liberalism as a practical expression of Christian thought was exposed to the truth of its downward spiral.  If anything, humanity was devolving as opposed to evolving culturally, anthropologically, morally and ethically.  Niebuhr’s treatment of the varied ways Christ is seen interacting with culture reflects these pivotal changes in social outlook and behavior.

Christ against culture’s abject denial of any intrinsic good or noteworthy merit in society: Christ of cultures selective assimilation of cultures most noble and proper expressions: Christ above culture’s assumptions pertaining to culture’s perfection through divine manipulation; Christ and cultures paradoxical interaction of dual authorities tension; Christ as cultures transformational benefactor who redeems culture for divine purposes:  all reflect the tension of a time period that witnessed an implosion of hope for social transformation through the betterment of mankind.

This failure of culture to express meaningful potential is further damaged through Niebuhr’s analytical approach.  Niebuhr pits the divergent Christian expressions against one another.  Hesselgrave astutely points out in: Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally that:  “The main problem with Niebuhr is that he puts Bible authors and authors at odds with one another.”[16]  Hesselgrave continues by attributing value to Christ against culture, Christ and culture in paradox, Christ as Transformer of culture and possibly Christ above culture.

Herein lays the crux of the issue:  is the problematic approach of a nihilistic Postmodern world best served by a church that is hopelessly divided along philosophical lines, or is the value of the church in unity the best vehicle for effective interaction with society?  Can the church indeed touch the needs of fallen humanity and impart God’s grace and hope in the midst of sociological turmoil.  The genius of Niebuhr’s work may be found in the myriad complex questions that are raised, forcing the observant to deal with the complexities of church and cultures tenuous relationship.  Niebuhr’s work is a classic that sheds light on the dynamic tensors that are applying pressure to the church in its current setting as the question of Postmodernism’s impact upon the emerging church is examined.  This is particularly true when the questions of deconstructionism’s value to the church as a working model are noted.  Can a Postmodern view ever blend itself into the church, or is the normative path of separation the only viable alternative?

Verbal Plenary Inspiration

The question of theological and philosophical incorporation into working models for the churchmen’s use is a long and storied debate that will not be taken up in an extensive way here.  It should be noted that the dilemma is pertinent to the means whereby the church is enabled to touch its cultural confines, or disabled in such a way as to diminish her effectiveness in achieving cultural relativity.  This question has surfaced in a very strong way in the debate over the importance of the Scriptural record known as the Bible.  If Postmodernism is ever going to become an aid for the church, a modest understanding of absolutes must be established in the dialog.  The starting point of establishing a standard concerning the divine discussion needs to revolve around the inspiration and authority of Holy Writ.

Plumbing the depths of Scripture can be a hazardous endeavor if there are no intrinsic assumptions to guide the navigation of Holy Writ.  The way the Word is approached will determine the nature of the message presented and its reception.  In the modern era of the church, there has been a war waged over the issue of the inerrancy of Scripture for approximately 250 years.  Paul Little alludes to this truth as he states that: “The authority of the Bible is a crucial question and one which is very much in dispute today.”[17]   When the subject of the Plenary and Verbal inspiration of Scripture is examined, the natural byproduct is an acceptance of its inerrancy, as the record is only as good as the source.[18]  Lewis Sperry Chafer contributes to this argument as he addresses the verbal inspiration of Scripture in Major Bible Themes.  Chafer states that:

“This theory, as its designation implies, maintains that the Bible is, even to its very words, an inspired book.  This claim is made for the original writers only and not for copies, translations, or quotations, even though they may date back to the early days of the Christian era.  However, though no original manuscripts are now in existence, it is important to observe that the most careful study of these copies, translations and quotations which are available yields clear evidence that our present text of the bible is a very close reproduction of the original.”[19]

Christian Conflict

It appears that one of the most fiercely contested aspects of the churches polarization revolves around the assumptions of biblical authority and inerrancy.  On one side of the argument, those who hold to a position that identifies Scripture as the inspired Word of God without error, at times seem to be overwhelmed by the voices of dissent.  The other position is one that appears to hold a view that accepts a strong reliance upon human interjection in the construction of the Bible. In this perspective, error and mistakes in understanding of the natural realm which Scripture at times addresses, and the progressive understanding of God as He relates to humanity, are basic assumptions.  This is a very dangerous position, as it allows for a multitude of conceptual ideals to surface concerning God and how He may choose to interact with mankind.

Those who speak negatively toward the issue of inerrancy generally relegate it to the criteria of novelty, claiming that it is a theological surd.  This line of reasoning asserts that the inerrantist point of view is a relatively recent occurrence, owing its origin to the late 19th century Calvinists.[20]  This isn’t supported historically however, as Brown further identifies the ancient apologist Irenaeus as a leading proponent of an inerrant view of Scripture.  Although the modern terminology isn’t employed, the concept exists in his writings, as it is noted that for:  “Irenaeus (the) sole authority was Scripture… although he did not formulate them in so many words, Irenaeus also anticipated the later concepts of the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.”[21]

Christopher Hall furthers this argument as he infers that Irenaeus used key hermeneutical principles that advance an appreciation of inerrancy.  This is witnessed in his statement that:

“Irenaeus contends that the focus of wise and devout study is not an ambiguous mystery revealed to a select few… we should study and meditate upon things ‘such as fall [plainly] under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously seen in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scripture.’  The Gnostic tendency to find hidden, esoteric meanings in Jesus parables… violates a devout, sound hermeneutic… it leads to a hermeneutical free-for-all in which each individual touts the mysteries he or she alone has discovered… Irenaeus unreservedly affirms ‘that the Scriptures are indeed perfect’ but that biblical writers have not attempted to answer every question that a curious mind might pose… ‘If we cannot discover explanations of all those things in Scripture which are made the subject of investigation… let us not on that account seek after any other God besides Him who really exists…’”[22]

It was Irenaeus’ contention that the Gnostics had pulled God down to their image.  An argument could be forwarded that states the liberal devaluation of Scripture acts as a reversal of the Gnostic tendency, with the same devastating results.

Therefore, it must be contended that the Bible is the inspired Word of God in its entirety, Word for Word, concept for concept.  There are no mistakes in the Word; however, this does not imply that the Scripture do not record mistakes.  Towns’ verifies this as he comments that: “To say that God inspired every word of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16) does not mean that every statement is true.  It only means that they are accurate.”[23]  God directed men to record and authenticate the necessary human events that were necessary for Him to reveal Himself to man through, including the vehicle of human fallibility and error.

Imperfect Perfection

The lack of perfection in conduct, grammar during the course of a speech, practices and cultural assumptions such as polygamy, or totalitarian governments or religious institutions does not mean that God necessarily endorses or accepts imperfection as a standard.  It simply acknowledges that people are imperfect.  Towns’ further states that: “The influence of inspiration is applied to the author’s vocabulary, knowledge of grammar, ability to develop a logical thought, or to his poetic, homiletical or scientific ability to do his research.  While inspiration has used the limitations of the authors, it does guarantee that what they wrote was accurate.”[24]

It does however, demonstrate that God purpose was to reveal His perfection and perfect plan in contrast to man’s fallen and limited nature and state of being.  This accounts for the varied educational levels of linguistic ability of the writers, their limited knowledge of their environmental considerations and their incorrect practices.  In so for as to the perfect revelation: the Scripture is perfect and complete in the spatial period in which it was revealed through and in the cultural confinements where it came into existence through.  Towns’ addresses this issue in: Theology for Today, as he points out that:

“The unity of the message of Scriptures is an internal argument that has its strongest appeal to those who are familiar with the Bible’s content.  As a person objectively reads the Bible, he finds a unified message that centers in Jesus Christ… a unified structure so that each part of the Bible contributes to the whole… there is a unity of literary emphasis, even though there are numerous authors… the reader gets the impression that there was one mind that guided the preparation of the entire Bible… the unity of the Bible is contrary to what one would normally expect from a book that was written by authors in the circumstances in which they wrote.”[25]

The development of biblical material showcases the limitations of humanities understanding of God and the creation.  This is understood as mystery.

The answer to these limitations and inspiration quite possibly are to be found in the eternal concepts of God’s holy council, as His decision to grant humanity limited free will provided the opportunity for limitations and restrictions to exist in the divine/human interactive process.  In order to communicate through the human agent, it would necessitate the utilization of human limitations in inspiration: including human understanding of language, government, science, history and the like.  Again, this is consistent with the purpose of Scripture in so far as it contrasts human imperfection and inability against divine perfection that culminates in the sacrificial expression of the incarnation: that which exists in perfection and knows no limits being limited to the external confinements of the human condition (Philippians 2:5-11).

Choice & Dictation

God’s preference to allow the freedom of choice within humanity has created the need to operate within the restrictions humanity is confined to for effective communication to take place.  Had Scripture been revealed in such a way that the human agents will or understanding was overridden, the process of faith would have been violated, as this would demonstrate divine oversight beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore denying the need for faith’s needed component: trust.  Towns’ comments on this aspect of inspiration in Theology For Today as he comments that it is: “Perhaps an overstatement of the issue is the position that God dictated the words of Scripture to the human authors much as a boss might dictate a letter to his secretary.  This view omits the appearance of human personality in writing Scripture, such as word selection, expression, and the background of the author.”[26]  The mere fact that varying theologies exist in contradictory modes points out this ambiguity concerning man’s inability to fully comprehend the revelation God has made known to man in the Scriptural record.  Man exists in a vacuum of limitations in his inability to perfectly express the divine image he bears.

An understanding of this nature insulates Scripture against the charge that it is incorrect scientifically, as human understanding of God’s creation changes or his political function adapts to the sociological environment he finds himself existing within.  Mankind is subject to change.  This isn’t the point however, as God never changes.  His revelation to man exists perfectly in the image that it was cast into: Holy Writ.  Mankind’s efforts to govern him or to grapple with the natural environment are not perfect.

The Problem of Truth

Groothuis traverses the dangerous game of liberalism’s and postmodernism’s fallacious representations succinctly in his appeal to danger avoidance in chapter six of his critique of modernism and postmodernism in: Truth Decay.[27]  The author points out that truth needs to be harmonized with society and not rejected.  When the stability of objective realities ballast is removed, when truth is viewed as an object of ethereal significance, the basis of Christianity is removed.  Faith in Christ is not a blind, abject acceptance of mythological fables that are ungrounded in historical reality.  There is a space/time continuum factor that has been essentially integrated into the Christian faith’s substantive proposals.  Documents, geological veracities and archeological realities:  all coalesce into a broader materialism of a biblical nature that in effect under girds the truthfulness of the Gospel’s natural essence.  The metanarrative absorbs the significant minor narrative potency to create a holistic appraisal of truth’s verification.  This is the essence of the inerrant nature of the Bible.  It is rooted and grounded in propositional truths that are factually based, both observationally and through the vehicle of eye witness accounts.

The era between 1925 and the early 1940s saw a different challenge arise in the developing matrix of Scriptural inerrancy and the traditional portals of faith.  Karl Barth, a former Germanic liberal, grew increasingly frustrated with the transitions that had been imposed upon orthodox doctrine.  As a professor and pastor, he felt the implications were too great to be ignored in the outcome of the common believer, as the differences were causing a crisis to emerge in people’s basic acceptance of the faith.  The solution Barth advanced was received with mixed reviews among the evangelicals, although it was rejected by the fundamentalists overall, due to its acceptance of many tenets of the traditional Christian faith, while conversely relegating Scripture to the realm of a man made book, that lacked inspiration and inerrancy.  Barth’s theology had many compelling aspects to it, such as an insistence upon the depravity of man and his inability to aspire to understand God.  The difficulty lay in the rejection of the authority of Scripture.[28]

Postmodernism’s gravest difficulty and its predecessor in the liberal approach to Scriptural understanding can be seen in the conflict of the inerrant argument.  Connecting the Postmodern movement to its predecessor in the liberal assumptive interpretations of faith and Scripture is a critical connection that needs to be addressed, as it is the modern battleground between old truth and the new assessments concerning truths perspectives. While attempting to be absorbed into Christian theology as a proper assessor of posits of Scripture, both carry the inherent poison that is expressed in the denial of factual data’s conclusiveness.

Subjective & Objectivity in Relation to truth

Propositions cannot simply give way to synthetic suggestions ad infinitum.  There must be a standard, objective nuance that substance is evaluated against.  Herein lays the dilemma of philosophical/theological integration.  Most rationalistic attempts to enumerate the plausibility of God’s existence utilize formulae that include God into the configuration.  This can be seen in a minor equation such as:

A (I+O) – M = E    = A/W

W (F+L) + M = S

In the equation: A = Alpha, I = Infinity, O= Omniscience, M = Mass (substance), E = Eternality, W= Omega, F = Finite, L = Limitations, M = Mass (substance),

S = Spatial Reality.  The combination of the two creates the Alpha/Omega equation.

While these mathematically induced language valuations may help humans to logically comprehend formulae, the problem remains:  God isn’t a part of any equation.  He is the equation.  Holy Writ begins with and is permeated throughout with an unalterable objective assumption.  God exists.  Equation summations may point to His existence and not the opposite.  As such, the tension exists in the assumption.  Reality has a point of origin, with an initiator whose reflective qualities are seen imprinted throughout creation.  Christianity is not compatible with pre-modern variations of pantheistic ruminations.  Narrative data is appropriate as long as the representations fit within the Metanarrative are the focus:  understanding the assumption of God.

The possible inclusion of postmodern thought into the Christian faith may be found in the intransigent focus upon that which is unknowable and unattainable.  Perhaps this worldview may readily adapt to the Augustinian/Calvinistic views of the awesome majesty of God as incomprehensible and glorious.  Postmodernism’s illogic may appeal to the incarnational realities of the witness in objective reality’s space/time limitations.  Pursuit of this line of reasoning may possibly find some value in the apologetic determinations of man interacting with God.

Subjective Truth & Debate

This is readily demonstrated in the debate over evolution and Scripture.  George Marsden points out the varied difficulties that the church has faced in the development of fundamentalism as a movement and its insistence on Inerrancy as a basic essential throughout the history of the American religious experience in: Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism.  Marsden accomplishes this task as he points out the discrepancy between the Northern expressions of Christianity and the Southern branches, and the muted approaches that were taken as to Darwinism as a test case for faith.  Marsden articulates that: “Since even conservative opinions varied, however, views on Darwinism were seldom used as tests of faith among mainstream Protestants in the late nineteenth century… the larger issue was the truth of the Bible.”[29]

This inerrant fulcrum was the obvious point of divide in the days of Darwinism’s emergence, and it seems that the conflict has yet to subside.  John MacArthur Jr. under girds this aspect of conflict, as he declares: “The basis of the biblical rule of worship is the principle of sola scriptura-Scripture alone.[30]”  The argument strikes at the heart of the problem of the truthfulness of God’s Word and its trustworthiness in matters of faith and posterity.  Although this battle has been fought for a considerable time period now, its outcome will have a significant impact on the cultures that continue to engage in the conflict, and their ability to relate to God in a viable manner.   This is particularly relevant in the arena of the Postmodern debate, which has put truth on trial according to Douglas Groothuis.[31]  The Scopes Trial of the 20s is being fought again, however this time it isn’t the auspicious nature of evolution vs. creation that is being fought over.  This time it is the substance of truth that is at stake as Postmodernism and Christianity have taken the stage of conflict as formidable combatants.

Liberal/modernist arguments have been advanced throughout the years that have embraced the natural evolution theories of Darwin and his ilk, although no scientific evidence has existed to verify and validate this hypothesis.  It has been understood in the scientific community and the liberal theological circles that the evidence would surfaced eventually, and that the silent evidence such as fossils and differences within species plus the diversity of life points to this conclusion.  Microbiology has been the savior science has hoped for, as it was anticipated that genetic advancements would prove the essential link between man and his nearest biological relative in the primate genus, the ape.

The recent unraveling of the human and the chimpanzee genome was expected to provide the conclusive answer, as the genes demonstrate the viability of ancestral connectivity.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle in an article that is entitled: Surprises in first map of chimp chromosome, when the two strands of genetic material were examined and contrasted, over 90% of the material was consistently held in common.    This doesn’t prove the missing element that was expected to link humans and apes, however, as this same amount of genetic similarities are held in common with all sentient beings of the animal kingdom.

The new scientific evidence seems to point out that there are no viable connections between mankind and the apes or any other organic material that exists in so far as has been discovered.  One of the primary differences is seen in the chimpanzee’s possession of 24 chromosomes, while the human strand contains only 23.  The comparison points out that there are: “surprising differences between the species.”[32] It appears that it is a biologic impossibility that mankind and the ape are related as direct relatives.  Mankind’s hypothesis has been unraveled, while God has waited patiently for the science to catch up with His understanding.

The Dilemma of Communication

The task of the church in the world setting it finds itself entrenched in, can, at times, be daunting. Scandals, administrative challenges, utilization of resources, finding purpose and relevance in a social structure that seemingly views church polity and existence as tenuous at best, are just a few of the difficulties the body of Christ faces. Coupling these varied complexities with whole societies that are negative or ambiguous toward the Gospel message and the purpose of David Hesselgrave’s work, Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally,[33] comes into focus. Dr. Hesselgrave apparently has developed on acute understanding of the need for effective communication to occur, if the significant message of Jesus Christ is to broach the cultural divide that distinguishes many people groups and nations from the relevancy of the churches message.  Serving as a missionary to the nation of Japan for 12 years, and as the professor of mission and director of the School of World Mission and Evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, USA,[34] has provided Dr. Hesselgrave with the distinct qualifications necessary to raise the valid and pertinent questions that exist in multi-cultural dialogue.

Analyzing cultural distinctives causes the varied peculiarities of worldviews, or maze ways in accomplishments such as standards and customs of people groups to surface in the study of cross-cultural interests. As long as these perceptive differences exist, without making adjustments or allowances to compensate for variations in thinking patterns and responsive enablement’s or distinctions of a cultural nature, there will be cause for havoc to reign when communication is attempted. Cross-cultural communicants appear to need to undergo the process of shifting paradigms, garnishing understanding and insight into the targeted worldview of those to whom communication needs to be enacted with. It is in the expressive task of building bridges composed of thought and speech where the effective communicator finds the greatest levels of challenge, and most significant rewards for success in the work of expressing Gospel truth. To accomplish this undertaking effectively: “as is the case in all communication, the missionary message becomes most compelling when it ceases to be general and becomes personal.”[35]  Bridging worldviews advances this most noble cause in communicating Christ by establishing commonalities of thought and expression with the intent of sharing ideas in a meaningful fashion by developing an understanding of the differences that exist in world perception.

Cognition as a procedural understanding is a necessary component in the establishment of communications variables, as they exist in the form of: “the mind of the people.”[36]  By this, it is meant that cultural differences, political thought, religious practice and theories of reality: all create intrinsic impressions upon the psyche of persons in intercultural bindings. The act of cognitive evaluation comes into focus in multicultural interaction in no greater way than that which is found in the process of ‘encoding and decoding’[37] the pertinent focal points of importance that are found in culturally relevant actions and practices. Codes of a community variety can be best described as symbols or signs, “pure, iconic, discursive, presentational;”[38] with each one of these signs carrying specific valuations in the nexus of the conveyance of ideas with cultural attachments and assigned standards being given.

Codifications or expressions of thought that have been encoded, or empowered with meaning, are essential and “must be available to the respondent if true communication is to take place.”[39] By virtue of the essential force of value, these words and actions are necessary components that must be formed and projected for meaningful interaction to occur in the normative sense. This level of communication exists in both verbal and nonverbal expressions with the verbal format manifesting in “the spoken and the written”[40] type. Nonverbal communication carries within its perimeters a less distinct identification. Intonation, stressors, “paralanguage…pitch, rate, rhythm, pacing…voice tension…volume and inflection,”[41] all fit within the boundaries of the nonverbal sort. Couple these primary nonverbal considerations with the importance of the “silent language…gesture, behavior…use of space, time, etc.,”[42] and the broad range of communications boundaries is readily seen. These nonverbal codes may even be of greater need in the understanding and study as to how to express thought and intent among differing cultures than the spoken and written forms. Each of these points referring to cognition is essential components that can be utilized in the creation of a field of thought that enhance the communication process to happen.

Linguistic achievement is found in the ability to form guttural sounds into recognizable, sequential and repetitive intonations. The genius of civilization is the unique ability of humanity to express thoughts, ideas and needs in a cohesive manner[43] that conveys conceptual understanding.  Communicative theories encompass the model that examines: “message, source and respondent” (p. 41) as the primary participants in the encoding and decoding procedure of thought conveyance.  Cultures and civilization are based on the need to communicate. This process takes place through the simple procedure of “learning…by imitation” and placing the importance of languages ability to influence cultural assumptions and inter-connective relationships that develop networks of feasible interdependent lifestyles.

Cultural Relativity & Communicative Difficulties

Linguistic forms are foundational to another field of reference for understanding communications intricacies as well. This can be equated to the practices of any given culture that affects behavioral patterns that influence the external actions of cultural practices. Missional workers need to comprehend the relevant power of behavior if the fine art of communication is to occur effectively. This force can be seen in the positive and negative in the study of: “cultural relativism… (As) anthropologists make a clear distinction between ethical or moral relativism and cultural relativism.”[44] Creating distance between these significant segments, ethics and culture is an invaluable assistor in the task of communication. Determining the root causal influences of practice allows the person attempting cross-cultural dialogue the unique insight and forethought to by-pass preconceived judgments based on the communicator’s culture as opposed to the desired respondents cultural assumptions and actions.

Taking advantage of these tools can allow the missionary the unique ability to use pagan cultural practices as elevators of conveyance for Christian communication to transpire when appropriate.  Hesselgrave notes this, as he states: “One of the most potent weapons…is the ability to bring the behavioral patterns of pagan cultures to a new level of awareness and open them up to the light of revelation and reason.”[45] These peculiarities of uniqueness that are neutral in application, and adaptable to Christian presentations, of salient information, grant an audience in given cultural expressions that allow an ease in communicating truths, utilizing pre-existing platforms for the use of presentation. Naturally, these platforms need to conform to scriptural standards of conduct (p. 404).[46]

Social structures, as an existent formulator of communities is another focal point of interest to those who desire to express Christian truth cross-culturally. Societies, in general, are simply enlarged, concentric bandings of people units based on commonalities of language and need, As Hesselgrave notes: “language is the means by which we acquire a worldview and logic.”  The thought process, emotive considerations and belief systems make up the distinguishing characteristics of social structures.

In the modern realm, the need to understand the significance of social networks carries a greater sense of importance due to: “the gap between our technological advances and our communication skills.”[47] This takes added meaning and focus when missionary tasks are conducted in social settings that have been recently impacted by the rapid acceleration of technologies impact upon indigent people groups in rural and primitive surroundings. Christian efforts to advance the message of Jesus Christ, has found a hidden ally in the guise of the societal neurosis caused by significant changes in the smaller, rural groupings of people outside the boundaries of cities.

There are difficulties that can arise in the examination and attempts at understanding social networks, as they exist within the context of the task of communicating to differing societies. These are especially enhanced when an awakened realization transpires concerning the fact that: “all human societies have implicit and explicit patterns of interaction with certain cross-cultural similarities and differences.”[48]  Cities, rural cultures and primitive tribal social networks have distinctions that must be bridged for effective interaction to occur. However, there are unique similarities that do not exist among the three cultural expressions. “Peasant and tribal societies have much in common when compared to the city. They tend to be more homogenous…traditional in lifestyle…resistant to change… (containing) a negative attitude toward outsiders.”[49]  Possessing an enlightened understanding to these social digressions can help in the facilitation of sharing Christian values, ideology and concepts, within these unique social structures.

Modern Adaptations of the Ancient Message

Effective presentation of any message, including the Gospel, can be enhanced significantly by proper use of media. After all: “it is not just who says what to whom, but how the message is channeled to the respondents that determines {sic} how the message will be decoded.”[50]  Proper use of media formats, simple and sydetic are integral in the communicative process. As a tool, simple media is a tremendous asset in bridging the gulf of encoding the transmission of thought between “spoken or written words… into… nonlinguistic codes,”[51] thus enabling communications potential between complex and simple societies.

This aspect of dialogue, media presentation, constitutes an extremely potent form of communicating as it covers the gamut of available models, ranging from “first generation media…charts, graphs, written materials…through, fourth generation…programmed instruction, language laboratories and…computers.”[52]  Proper analysis of the target group’s limitations in comprehension, language barriers, and political dissimilarities forces analysis:  all become surmountable obstacles that can be conquered with proper application of correct media tools for use in the respondent culture.

Receptivity by the targeted respondents to the presentational message should be the goal of those who aspire to the task of communicating information. The theory of motivation is Hesselgrave’s ninth segment, Motivational Resources – Ways of Deciding.[53]  Placing the capstone on this examination of various forms of communication functionality, Hesselgrave draws attention to the primary motivation that should drive Christian Missionaries practices and techniques that cause movement toward the message by those who hear and analyze that which has been spoken concerning the Christ.

By focusing on the issue of persuasion, Communicating Christ draws into the light the power of rhetoric and the question persuasive rhetoric inevitably raises: do we “have the right”[54] to create changes in the core structure of multiple cultures by the introduction of the Gospel, with western culture’s baggage attached? Is the West’s preponderance with individualism always the correct approach through: “the appeal to selfhood,”[55] whereas “in much of the rest of the world thing are quite different?”[56] By looking at the factors that motivate decisions in respondent people groups, Dr. Hesselgrave packages truth’s reception through the guise of social analysis. If the Western approach to structure is “to think first of family, clan, community and country,”[57] yet the non-Western worldview may be to focus on “social harmony,”[58] as the pivotal point from which elentics, the fine art of persuasive speech with the aim of creating “conviction of guilt,”[59] from which motivation occurs, it must be asked: is the impetus to change the responsibility of the communicator? This seems to be Hesselgrave’s primary message: find the necessary point of contact that makes the message receivable to the desired respondent. To do less is to fail in communications process.

The projection of truths needs have never changed: “human societies need teachers who will prepare themselves to make the strongest possible case for truth, justice and goodness.”[60]  The gauntlet of persuasion is indeed significant. In any field of study, and effort of work, the question must be postulated: does the theory work, and if not, why? How can the conveyance of values, implicit and explicit,[61] lead to the coveted profit of souls won for Christ?

The weaknesses of Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally, such as an overly weighted analysis of theory, with the possible exclusion of implicit application, is balanced, at least for Westerners, with the reduction of communications task into language most capitalists can relate to: “profit = reward – cost.”[62] Is any cost too great in the aggressive challenge to extend the Gospel’s influence?  As the churches answer must be a positive affirmation in expending whatever is needed, so to is the geniuses of Hesselgrave’s examination, found by enlarging an understanding of culture, unlocking the potential of people, wherever they may be found, to accept the message of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.

Connecting the Dots

It should be pointed out however, that religious postulations and Postmodernism began to travel separate paths long before the advent of Postmodernism during the late 20th century.  According to Travis Elborough, in The Pocket Essential Nietzsche,[63] Nietzsche began to undergo a serious disillusionment concerning the Christian faith during his teen years.  “It was around this time that Nietzsche began to have serious doubts about his faith.  Encouraged by his philosophical classes, be began to take a much more questioning approach to reading the scriptures.”[64]  This is a critical point in the development of Postmodernism, as Nietzsche has been credited with the ideological ruminations that laid the groundwork for the transitory ceding away from modernism.

Douglas Groothuis concludes that: “it is difficult to identify one philosopher who marks the transition from modernism to postmodernism, but Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is probably the top candidate.[65]  This personal distancing away from Christianity by Nietzsche led him to assert a nihilistic philosophy that held God to be dead, or unable to interact within the sphere of humanity.  This is readily witnessed in Nietzsche’s assertion:

“Surely in our times the Christian religion is an anachronism projecting out of the distant past…even in very primitive stages of culture, human beings do not stand over against nature as impotent slaves; they are not necessarily the servants of nature, devoid of will…the Greeks did not see the Homeric gods above them as masters…they saw…only the mirror image…by contrast, Christianity crushed and shattered human beings completely and sank them as if into slimy depths…then suddenly…(a) gleam of divine pity…stunned by grace…and for a moment believed that he (Jesus) bore the whole of heaven with him.”[66]

Fatalistic disenfranchisement appears to be the bane of Nietzschian philosophy.  As the above statements indicate, taken from The Religious Life essay, Nietzsche had a significant aversion to the perimeters of Christianity.  Abandoning his early faith as the son of a minister, in a long line of ministers.[67]  Nietzsche seems to have embraced a panenthiestic form of atheistic assumptions in a polyglot semblance of admixture, allowing religious thought to enter into the realm of influence only as an equalizer of historical importance in humanities development.  This fits well into the postmodern milieu of religious thought.  As Graham Ward states in: The Postmodern God:  “The privatization of the religious language has led to the erasure of God-talk from the public arena…secular ethics and politics flourished in the wake of flagrant humanism.”[68]

Reentering the Divine Conversation

Modernism sought to remove the concept of the divine from the conversation of humanity.  The lack of appropriate value attachment for theological postulations led to a deconstructed faith paradigm as rationalistic thought dominated the landscape.  Nietzschian existentialism has had a diffusing effect on this philosophical quagmire that reason produced.  By exposing the myth of modern achievements capability to advance humankind, postmodernism’s rejection of reason alone as the canonical guide for thought and practice leaves the astute observers of learning’s practice with a new foundation from which information is to be acquired, assimilated, and then disseminated.  This posture runs counter to the standard Christian position.  As Douglas Ott concludes in Power Encounter:  “Experience and human reason must never be the starting point for formulating theological truth…  Human reason suffers from the noetic effects of sin…reason, and its perception of things, is entirely subjective and prone to error.”[69]

Ott’s perspective plays well with postmodern speculations concerning a suspicion relating to the intrinsic abilities of mankind to think appropriately.  By excoriating human reason’s capabilities, postmodernism has unwittingly opened a portal for new assertions to be made concerning the Biblical conditions of conviction and the practical issues of faith’s practice.  The function of deconstruction, according to Derrida, is the:

“strategy of focusing on conceptual oppositions…deconstruction attends to the concepts regarded as secondary in traditional, metaphysical thought…(deconstruction) proceeds first by a reversal of the opposition…thus, reversal is followed by a second phase of ‘reinscription, displacement, or reconstruction.’”[70]

Derrida’s observations are not as intimidating as has been supposed at times. The postmodern assertions concerning knowledge and its acquisition are mere observations of the natural functions and limitations learning capabilities are subjected to. Deconstruction/ reconstruction, reification: all simply point out the need to address the process of analysis when observing the input of external data. As new information is acquired, changes in perspective become the obvious end result of objective analysis.

Human Limitations & Need

Conveyance of thought can find new ground for expression along Christian argumentative approaches, if the right vantage point is utilized in this new communiqué formulation.  Significant dialogue is the probable end when deconstruction occurs linguistically, as posits of logic’s assumptions are challenged.  The postmodern process of ceding to the intransigent qualities of human thought’s fallibility is a significant factor that needs to be assessed and utilized in drawing postmodernists into the vortex of conversation.  Honest appraisal of theology’s limitations due to the noetic effect of sin can help advance this noble cause that presumes people can engage in meaningful dialogue, albeit from divergent places of origin in thought process and assumption.  Naturalism’s limitations effect the summation of all human thought.  As such, Christian postulations, although not desirable by many within the postmodern worldview, still have a modicum possibility for entertainment purposes with the postmodern thinkers who are honest in their wrestling with assumptions of truth posits.

Richard Rorty’s separation from Heidegger’s ideology is telling in his assessment of Wittgenstein’s placid acceptance of languages limitations. Communicative dalliances are seen as games for Rorty, tools for conveyance of pleasurable ideas and constructs that allow connections to form.  Observe Rorty’s comments on Heidegger:

“From the later Wittgenstein’s naturalistic and pragmatic point of view, we can be grateful to Heidegger for having given us a new language game.  But we should not see that language-game as Heidegger did – as a way of distancing and summing up the West…Heideggerese is only Heidegger’s gift to us, not being’s gift to Heidegger…the reification of language in the later Heidegger is simply a stage in the hypostatization of Heidegger himself…the first post-metaphysical thinker.”[71]

Rorty exhibits the spirit of the age in his assessment of Wittgenstein’s and Heidegger’s reliance upon the more mundane assumptions of the past considerations of Enlightenment thinking and the modern boundaries of thought projections. By slighting the standardized procedures of past thinkers, Rorty, like so many of his postmodern contemporaries, attempts to establish a new model for significance to proceed from within the assumptions of that which is knowable and transmittable.

Fallacious idealism reigns in Rorty’s expressiveness.  As Heidegger falls to the sword of deconstructional activities, Rorty lends assistance to the reintroduction of Christ into the sociological milieu of the intellectual community for believable purposes.  Standards of modernism that commonly rejected supernaturalism from the equation of rationalizing, no longer holds sway over a captive audience.  Contextualizing Christianity into this newly emerging philosophical paradigm is an achievable end: a brave new realm of possibility.

Postmodern Evaluation’s of Truth

Although the idea of a supra-positioned truth is not an allowable conjecture in this postmodern climate that rejects the assertion of a supreme truism, considerations and tolerance are fast becoming benchmarks within postmodernisms speculative tenets.  Rorty alludes to this assumption when he states: “the best service we authors can do one another is to treat each other’s books not as monoliths but rather as (to use Wittgenstein’s image) ropes made up of overlapping strands, any assortment of which can be picked out and woven together, with strands picked out from other ropes.[72]” This assertion alludes to the belief that no can truly understand what is intended in the act of communication, not even the original communicator. There is a measure of truth in this assumption. Knowledge is tainted in the natural limitations of humanity’s condition of enslavement to sins clouding effect upon reasons endeavors. The natural limitation condition factor is only applicable to those to whom the condition applies, however. If existence without sins effect is a possibility, those who are unaffected would thereby be exempted from the clause. This is the realm of God.

The attack on the meta-narrative is formidable in this segment presented by Rorty, although it is not an insurmountable condition for the church, by any means.  The Christian communicator’s task is to find a way to use this acclivity for the Gospel’s advancement, rather than for the churches detriment.  This has been the task of the church almost from its inception.  Finding ways to use man’s wisdom as a means of communicating the message of Holy Writ is the function of theology.  Integrating philosophical ramblings into the God-talk is a time-honored tradition advanced by such notable historical characters as Thomas Aquinas, Adler Mortimer, Augustine, Tertullian, Erasmus and a host of other voices throughout the ages.  Aristotle’s adage, borrowed by Thomas Aquinas is significant in this equation:  “philosophy is the handmaiden of theology[73],” is still a fresh idea, provoking thoughtful analysis millennia after the original statement was made.  With the advent of postmodern thought’s ascendance into the language game of philosophic presentations, Aristotle’s observation is once again a relevant point for consideration today. Churchmen have the occupational hazard of utilizing the very forces that attempt to destroy them against themselves in deliberative measures that positively comport to the truths as revealed in Scripture.

Imperfect Standards of Objectivity

Deridda’s ruminations, coupled with Rorty’s assertions, attempt to topple Protagora’s old adage as well.  Ayn Rand advances the thought in opposition to the postmodernists that: “it is here that Protagora’s old dictum may be given a new meaning, the opposite of the one intended: ‘man is the measure of all things’.  Man is the measure, epistemologically – not meta-physically.  In regard to human knowledge, man has to be the measure, since he has to bring all things into the realm of the humanly knowable.”[74]  Ironically, postmodernism liberates humanity from the cruelty of humanistic assertions that maintain the belief that man is the ultimate measure of all that is knowable.  Postmodernism’s acceptance of the noetic effects, albeit without proper theological designations, removes man from the central formulation of concise implications of activity.  Dethroning human reason leaves open the possibility factor for other dominant figures or ideals to assume the vacated humanistic throne of reasons capabilities.

Postmodern assertions as to the importance of language are also a factor that is of the most tantamount of importance to the Christian apologist.  Language is the vehicular tool for adequate projection of thought conveyances.  Without languages intricacies, human communication would be non-existent. Civilization as we know it could not be even a remote possibility. If the linguistic tools that manage to survive at man’s disposal were no longer available, essential variables of relational qualifications would simply cease to be.  Scripture alludes to this direst of possibilities as it recounts the story of Babel’s disintegration (Gen11), as God undergirds this essential reality in this ancient story.  Communication is basic to the advancement of human potentiality.  Loss of language comprehension creates a devolving process of lost opportunity and lack of cohesion in direction.  Prior to Babel’s folly man was unified.  Confusion began to reign when God disallowed meaningful communication to exist among the people groups of the earth.

This dynamic tension that exists within the communicative boundaries of knowledge is apparent in postmodernism.  Facts are the desired end for the honest philosopher.  The inability to attain truth as a non-subjective standard is the focal point of frustration.  This thwarted achievement lies at the base of postmodern thought.  Man cannot achieve perfection in linguistics, politics, religion, philosophy or any other named pursuit due to the significant limitations man is subjected to in his primordial condition of inhumane experience as a consequence of sins effects.  This epistemological discrepancy has led to the rejection of oppressive analytical procedure’s intellectuality, although the implicit practices of those who advance this ideology are still tainted with the common imperfections that infect humanity like leprosy of analysis and activity along the lines of functional thought procedures.

Philosophic wrangling can almost be equated with latent attempts to reassert humanity into the configuration of substantive knowledge acquisition in the field of linguistics.  Comparisons between the utilization of language between the premodern suitability’s and the postmodern subtleties can be revealing in their investigative abilities.  Mortimer J. Adler suggests that:  “Plato and Aristotle usually preface their discussion of a subject with an examination of the relevant words in current use…they see no special difficulty in abstract as opposed to concrete words.”[75] Confining their thoughts to a pre-existent field of words for conceptualizing did not appear to be problematic for the ancient philosophers in the premodern mindset.  By narrowing the potential flow of words and their valuations; restrictive practices of control were implemented with the expressed intention of eliminating ambiguous reinterpretations of their salient ideas.

This is not the case with modern methods of communication.  Adler continues his address by stating:

“In the modern treatment of language there is more of an imputation that words cause men unwittingly to deceive themselves as often as they enable one man intentionally to deceive another.  Men are duped or tricked by the tendency of words to counterfeit a reality which does not exist…words (can) signify nothing which can be perceived or imagined.”[76]

The loss of interpretive absolutes in modern communicative expressions is both alarming and exhilarating in the implied structural changes this adjustment brings into the mix of the postmodernist linguistic debate. Great care needs to be exerted when utilizing these newly drawn borders in conveying ideas, as miscommunication and error can be easily entertained. These changes allow a new freedom in communicating, however, that stand as ready assistants waiting to be exploited by the capable Christian philosopher.

Mixed Blessings

This creates a mixed blessing for the Judeo-Christian communicator.  On the one hand, logics’ natural tendency to act in an exclusionary fashion when a phenomena or ideology is presented that cannot be quantified is a deterrent to the faith of Holy Writ.  On the other side of the argument, a lack of substantive achievements in truth attacks the significant assumptions of biblical presentations.  This difficulty between postmodernism and Christianity becomes apparent within the matrix of propositional truth’s authenticity and the subjective acceptance and toleration of multiple views of reality, with none asserting a place of primacy.  Exclusive adaptations can be construed in a pejorative sense of abeyance for the modern postmodernist[77] in this ideological configuration.  Building credible bridges that project true assertions is the church’s formidable task today.

John Nyquist points out in Telling the Truth, that:  “one of the slogans of postmodernity puts it bluntly:  Truth is relative, history is being rewritten and experience is the judge of all things.”[78]  Although the traditional representation of Christianity struggles in this confluent mix, people of the faith can insert a pertinent chapter in this new history that is being written.  Postmodernism’s acceptance of premodern realities has recast the historic cycle.  Christianity is once again facing obstacles of conflicting religions and philosophies.  This is a situation in which the early Church thrived in during the first few centuries of the churches existence. This reality allowed for the churches ultimate triumph over those alternate perspectives in the ancient world.

Nietzsche’s apathetic approach to religious thought, relegating God concepts to the experiential realm of emotion, needs to be countered by acts of demonstrable force.  Postmodernism’s purported first philosopher was wrong in his assertive question:

“How can something arise from its opposite…something traditional from something irrational…sentient from…dead, logic from illogic…truth from error? All that we need…at the present level…is a chemistry of the moral, religious, aesthetic representations and sensations…stimuli that we experience within ourselves…all that the philosopher asserts about humanity, however, is basically nothing more than testimony about the human being of a very restricted stretch of time.”[79]

Faith is more than a self-induced feel-good state of being.  God interacts in the total equation of humanity’s substance:  intellect, physical essence, emotive ability and spiritual propensity. As such, the human condition does not find a position of isolated abandonment without the possibility of external help and assistance. God has entered into the human mix in order to render aid. This has been advanced to the extreme possibility of self-insertion into the human equation through the incarnational reality of Christ Jesus.

There is however, a semblance of truth to Nietzsche’s comments on the work of the philosopher, at least in an existential sense.  As a corporal being, the ideological advancements of the philosopher are spatially confined to the life of the individual.  Death precludes any further modifications or contributions to be made personally.  Sardonic acquiescence cedes an abeyance to this grim reality of conditional exigency as humanity must own up to its own mortal limitations. But there is a greater sense that transcends this human limitations and linguistic contributions.  The superior narrative of contributive thinking in a collective formulation in interventional activities allows the thoughts of the past to influence the postulations of the present.  In this factor, Hirsch and Rorty are correct.  Derrida builds this construct a modern tabernacle for existence and consideration to dwell within when the assertion is made that:

“Production of the new – and imagination are only productions:  by analogical connection and repetition, they bring to light what, without being there, will have been there…imagination is purely reproductive. It retraces the perceived…imagination invents or innovates nothing; it only combines in…each other the given finite presences…productive force is also called imagination…the connection of the known to unknown… (with) two possible values or effects:  truth and non-truth.”[80]

The True Measure of Postmodern Thought

Post-Modern thought in linguistic construction is really nothing more than a re-assertion of the Hegelian dialectic of rational analysis as truth is sought through evaluation.[81]  As with any school of thought, information is achieved by examination and adequate treatment of the information that is being considered.  The process may be identified as dialectic analysis, deconstructionism, reconstructions or theological deliberation.  The moniker attached is less significant than the objectivity of the thinkers and the aim of the examination. Michael Foucault concedes this actuality as he proclaims:

“ever since the stoics, the system of signs in the Western world has been a ternary one, for it was recognized as containing the significant…from the 17th century…the arrangement of signs was to become binary…this articulation (is) resolved into a single form…with the interplay it authorizes…in the experience of language…all language has value only as discourse.  The art of language was a way of ‘making a sign.”[82]

 

These modern rhetoricians are admirable in their usage of language constructs.  However, there is a marked use of already existent foundations for thoughtful interaction that is employed by the postmodernists. New linguistic garb may attempt to dress up that which has been deemed by the postmodernists to be non-consequential, but the fact remains the same: the ongoing rules apply to the art of understanding and communication, regardless of what a new voice may attempt to assert.

What is probably of greatest value to the modern apologist is the newly emerging ability to create a new place for the questions of inquiry to begin,[83] as the church regains what has been misplaced. Ravi Zacharias captures this sentiment as he comments that:  “we have lost the beauty of language.”[84]  Postmodernistic retraction into the annals of premodernistic tribalism is fertile ground for the advancement of the church via action over rhetoric.  Enforcement’s power is a valid means of communicating truth for a society that craves tangible reality over speculative theory.

Embracing the principles of Scriptural truth is made easier in a sensate based culture when action precedes dialogue.  Hesselgrave and Rommen substantiate this postulation in Contextualization,[85] as they challenge the basic assumptions of cross-cultural adaptability along scriptural patterns of presentation.  Multiple hermeneutical posits are advanced:  “which involve public meaning, the user’s meaning, and changes in meaning.”[86]  The language of theology and its related communicative constrictors, biblical interpretation, follow the patterns of adaptation and change as information, language, culture and standards morph over the years.  Adler substantiates this concept by surmising:  “Some things are inexpressible in human speech even as they are incapable of being fully grasped by human thought.”[87]

Communication vagaries coerce the employment of hermeneutical principles for understanding to be achieved in as accurate of a format as is humanly possible.  As Cotterell and Turner state in: Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation:  “Hermeneutics can be defined simply as the study of how we determine what a discourse means.  By ‘discourse’ we mean any form of oral or written communication.”[88]  Postmodern frustrations with inadequate enunciations and elaborations of theological import can be a legitimate grievance that should be taken into consideration by communicators of the Gospel message.  Dogmatic assertions of intransigencies expose a reticent approach to theological issues that creates an aura of suspicion.  At the least, an idea of condescension is brought into effect that can significantly create artificial prejudicial patterns of action. Honest appraisal and acknowledgement of the noetic impact upon the field of theology could be a great assistor in advocating the net value of Christianity individually.

There is a sense in which theological assumptions are fluid and can be affected by external components.  This penumbras effect may not apply to the essential postulations of Christian doctrine; such as Redemption, Atonement, Deity, Trinity, etc., but it is an affective substance in secondary issues of Christian concern.  A classic case in point would be the traditional appraisal of Jesus’ mortal occupation under the tutelage of Joseph:  carpentry.  The classic understanding of woodworkers viewed 1st Century Palestinians as fashioners of yokes for beasts of burden as a primary point of focus.  The archeological discovery of Sepphoris has radically challenged these long standing assumptions.  Rich Batey, in Jesus and the Forgotten City, sheds an alternative view on carpentry in Nazareth at the time of Christ.  Rather than operating in a primitive forum, craftsmen were seen as indispensable for the erection of this new capitol for Israel.[89]  Connect this discovery to the advances being made in knowledge garnishments through the Dead Sea Scrolls,[90] and a vast amount of information is now being made available that is changing the borderline assumptions of scriptural data.  To operate against this actuality would be to engage in the worst form of penury.

New Nuances of a Historical Variety

Transformational inquest is the fodder of advancement.  The church has never been exempted from this common rule of societal comportment.  William McLoughlin eloquently sums up the ongoing process of metamorphic change as he evaluates the significant patterns of impact religious thought and practice have had upon the American cultural assumptions.  Identifying the impact of revivalism as an awakened social awareness, McLoughlin adroitly declares in: Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform:  “a revival meeting is at once a funeral service and a christening…from the thesis and anti-thesis of the revival generation a new synthesis emerges.  But the old light never quite dies…the process are never finished [sic].”[91]

Theology, as in most areas of human endeavor, observes that achievements are only accomplished through the excruciatingly painful task of change.  Stipulations of trial and error are still applicable.  Old assumptions that bear the mark of error in their presumptive givens by necessity need to be by-passed for accurate appraisals of true findings that are displacing in their nature.  Changing attributes and beliefs have profoundly impacted the church, and conversely, culture through the net effect of transitory assumptions and the church’s ability to adapt.  Slavery’s demise, democracy’s ascent, industrial regulations, and equal rights:  all have found favor within various Christian sociological structures throughout the years.

Although providence may not necessarily be a definitive biblical norm,[92] the concept of sporadic intervention by God in the affairs of men is not an alien idea to Scripture.  Platonic insight exemplifies this philosophical thesis. Observe what the philosopher Plato had to say about providence:

“For God only has the knowledge and also the power which are able to combine many things into one and again resolve the one into many… these are the elements, thus of necessity then subsisting, which the creator of the fairest and best of created things associated with himself… using the necessary causes as his ministers in the accomplishment of his work, but himself contriving the good in all of his creations… whereof we may distinguish two sorts of causes, the one divine and the other necessary, and may seek for the divine things, as far as our nature admits… with a view to the blessed life; but the necessary kind only for the sake of the divine, considering that without them… these higher things from which we look cannot be apprehended or received in any way shared by us.”[93]

The pagan undertones of the philosopher can be disturbing, but the general acknowledgement of God acting providentially is witnessed in Plato’s comments. A Judeo-Christian perspective also sees that deity has intruded upon history on many occasions according to the Bible.  Whether an acknowledgement is made concerning a meta-narrational overlay or minor narratives are all that is ceded, matters not.  Jacob at Bethel (Gen 28), Abraham at Mamre (Gen 18), Jesus as God incarnate:  all testify to God’s gracious intervention and love for his creation.

In more recent times, the philosopher Descartes alludes to the providential hand of God in human affairs as he builds a case for natural theological assumptions in the presentation of the Gospel to the heathen. Using the argument of Anselm, Descartes postulates: “there must be at least as much reality in the cause as in the effect; and thus since I am a thinking thing, and possess an idea of God within me, whatever in the end be the cause assigned to my existence, it must likewise be a thinking thing… which I attribute to God.”[94]

Utilizing this as a basis of understanding, because I think, I must reflect one who is superior and thinks in a superior fashion, Descartes continued by asserting the providential dealings of this superior sentient being in the midst of the human sphere of existence as the prime cause for being. Descartes notes: “I am in a sense something intermediate… between God and naught… placed in such a manner between the Supreme Being and non-being… I should not be astonished if … God acts as he does.”[95] Using the ontological argument to point to the existence of God, and by necessity His divine activities, Descartes attempts to distinguish the significance of the actions of God as demonstrated in the world of mankind via natural occurrences.

The Emperors New Language

In the postmodern milieu of languages intricacy, another postulation concerning God’s providential guidance may exist for advanced speculation.  The Pentecostal and Charismatic preoccupation with glossolalia may be the preemptive insertion of God into the communicative matrix, allowing a new level of connectivity to occur between God and man.  With the rapid deployment of this unique brand of Christianity, significant analysis as to the conditions that have allowed this growth to occur needs to be observed.  With: “an estimated 450 million adherents,”[96] Pentecostalism is a force that must be reckoned with.  Dr. William Menzies noted theologian among Pentecostals, identifies the overwhelming growth trends among this third force within Christianity in Spirit and Power, identifying this phenomena as: “the New Evangelicalism.”[97]

Gerald Sheppard presents an interesting analysis concerning the Pentecostal movement. Sheppard asserts that:

“Pentecostals are…more ‘sub-modern,’ than pre-modern, anti-modern, or post-modern…(their) profound Christian experience, freed somewhat from a fixation with modernity may allow Pentecostals to perceive more profoundly than some…the larger intellectual challenge to reinterpret Christianity constructively through its pre-modern, modern and Postmodern transformations.”[98]

 

World Impact

This unique perspective offers an interesting look at this relatively new movement within the boundaries of the Christian faith. As a possible force that has dwelt outside of the traditional barriers, the Charismatic function may be in a poignant position to insert the dialogue of matters of faith into a culture that increasingly distrusts the status quo variations that have purportedly disappointed many.  Pursuing the manners through which the Spirit Empowered movement has advanced is a worthwhile point of study in light of their rapid growth and impact upon the global identity of Christianity.  Vinson Synan grants a conservative figure to this growth phenomena in an article presented to Christianity Today, as he comments that:

About 25 percent of the world’s Christians are Pentecostal or charismatic, historian Vinson Synan, dean of the Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, told the triennial Pentecostal World Conference (PWC) in Seoul in September. An estimated 450 million are charismatic or Pentecostal.

“The continuing explosive growth of Pentecostalism indicates that the renewal will continue with increasing strength into the next millennium,” Synan declared. “Not only is growth occurring in eye-catching mega churches, but in tens of thousands of small local churches that are planted each year in big cities and remote villages.” PWC chair Ray H. Hughes says two-thirds of Pentecostals live in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. “PWC offers Pentecostals an opportunity to be a unifying force in a divided world,” Hughes said.  Missions expert David Barrett told Christianity Today that the Pentecostal and charismatic church is growing by 19 million per year.”[99]

 

The unique expressions of existential demonstrability that are particular to the charismata, make Pentecostal practice a ready validation for postmodern pursuits of religious experience.  The insistence upon mainstream Pentecostal denominations to operate within classic doctrinal expressions serves the modern dalliances with reason and rationality as undergirding assumptions for those who find standards an assuring fixture of stability in understanding.  With conservative posits as the basis of theological belief, modern Pentecostals combine activity with knowledge.  Secondary doctrines concerning biblical phenomena such as Tongues, Healings, Ecstatic Worship, and Power Encounters: all play well within the premodern and postmodern paradigms of confluent streams.

Deconstructive Linguistic Speech

Ironically, tongues as an unknown language may prove to be the most playful expression of the communicative ability to deconstruct the metaphorical patterns of speech in a postmodern mode of expressiveness.  Hillary Putnam elucidates a similar idea as she identifies Rorty insight that:

“algorithms or programs…then puts action to these programs are themselves…always tailored to the needs of a particular input-output function, a particular convention of representation…the output function, a particular convention of representation…the outputs are always of coping (kicking back), ranging from technological strategies to emotional, aesthetic, even spiritual attitudes.”[100]

 

An effective bridge may be in the offing, as the body of Christ struggles with the postmodern casting away of reason alone as a basis of being.

Those who do not view the modern phenomena of Tongues to be a proper expression experientially may need to reevaluate the basic assumptions that integrate form and function into the methodology of denial.  Henry Virkler, former Professor at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary commented in an unpublished lecture on Hermeneutics for Liberty University’s Distance Learning Master’s of Religion program,[101] discounted the standard objection that is normally leveled against Tongues as a modern possibility for practical implementation.  Claiming poor exegesis as the basis for the discontinuation of the more expressive chrisms of 1 Corinthians, Virkler advances the theological position that 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 is not an affective condition as of yet.  The perfect in this passage, according to Virkler, cannot possibly refer to Scripture, particularly in light of the fact that the process was still being enacted at the time of the writing.  Asserting this posture appears to be a super-imposition on the historical context.  Reading personal biases and proclivities into the theological language games of interpretation may placate certain prejudicial postures, but sound interpretation ultimately suffers.

It is true that no one knows for certain whether or not the modern expression of glossolalia is indeed a true representation of that which was imparted supernaturally at the dawning of the church era. Ken Gangel asserts the typical non-tongue perspective, as he claims that the common ideas pertaining to the gift of tongues attributes the modern manifestation to the gift being: “(1) Restored to church, (2) Satanic, (3) A psychological experience that is learned and caused.”[102]  Paul Hughes points out that the anti-tongues perspective asserts that: “The idea behind the anti-tongues interpretation is to prove that tongues-speaking as a legitimate spiritual gift passed away with the first-century Church. Many anti-Pentecostal scholars maintain a ‘dispensational’ view here:   tongues, along with some or all of the other ‘gifts,’ were for a sign, through which many would come to believe. After the ‘dispensation’ was complete, and the Church was established, the signs were no longer needed, and ceased.”[103]  Although most of these perspectives may have weight and bearing on the issue, they miss the primary point: people have been exercising the tongue phenomena.

As Dr. Bruce affirms in his comments on Acts 2:4: “However the sensible phenomena are to be understood, the disciples’ inward experience is plainly stated: ‘they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.’”[104]  Linguistically, and particularly, the modern practice may not remotely resemble the guttural enunciations of the primitive configuration.  This is not a germane point, however.  Even if the elucidations of the modern phenomena were solely fictitious, learned syllabic utterances and mimicked behavioralisms, this would not preclude the modern practice of heavenly exuberant pronouncements as constituting relevant functionality.  God is the judge of the heart.  Language offered as a prayer, expressing the unutterable conditions of the spirit, even if improperly spoken, would logically be received as such by a God as gracious as the one revealed in Holy Writ.

Reinsertion of Limitations

Language is a fallible, yet essential component for efficient communication to occur in a meaningful manner.  Returning to Adler’s earlier observation concerning the natural limitations of human language:  “Some things are inexpressible in human speech,”[105] heavenly utterances through carnal vehicles of the glossolalia variety, attempt the improbable leap, infusing the natural inclinations of speech with a divine portent.  The speakers and receivers assume rules for linguistic practices that need to be enforced.  Reasonable assumptions could easily assert that the Pentecostal glossolalic projections follow in the same methodological constraints, as does any natural language.  Adler astutely points out that:  “like human society, human language seems to be partly natural, partly conventional.”[106]  These same principles may be adaptable fixtures in the analysis of Spirit inspired utterances:  partly natural, partly supernatural.

No method of speech can be construed as flawless. “The modern ideal of a perfect and universal language may even be looked upon as an impious wish to achieve what God took away from men at Babel.[107]” This assumption points out the discrepancies and yearnings found within the fragile creature known as man.  Living under sins purview, objectivity as a goal is plausible.  Reality forces a very different view altogether, though.  The semantics of supernatural inclusion appears to be a viable means of demonstrating the nature of Christianity that exists beyond the structures of philosophic deliberations.  In an era that has vociferously attacked the Christian faith, ruah may once again be in motion to introduce that which sustains the essence of Christ on Earth:  the church triumphant.  As Hilderbrant keenly points out in: An Old Testament Theology of the Spirit of God: “One common denominator (exists) in these times of preservation…the presence of the ruah in the lives of God’s chosen leaders to sustain and preserve the elect people of God.”[108]   This principle of empowerment and preservation is readily adaptable to the concept of the Priesthood of all Believers.

Ecstatic speech may combine with accurate theological postulations to introduce the postmodern seeker to the dual reality of faith accepted and faith enacted.  Perhaps of even greater importance to the cultural mix of Western Christianity are the Pentecostal protestations against liberal inroads.  McLoughlin concludes that the early Pentecostal movement (1890-1920) was as much of a reaction against scientific theories and modern thought as it was an embracing of phenomenological activities.[109]  Aversion projections caused this movement to be seen as the embodiment of the conservative expression of Christianity as a non-violent protestation against the denuding attacks on the standardized postulations of the Christian faith.

As has been noted, the Pentecostal experience of glossolalia may be a prime characteristic that allows the language game to advance into a new realm of activity.  This does not exempt either the practice or the doctrinal allowances of the Pentecostals from the scrutiny of objective examination.  Hermeneutical procedures of propriety need to be employed in order to arrive at the optimum place of understanding with these unique expressions of communicative potentiality.  The language of self-imposition must be broached for balance and equanimity to be achieved within the communal expression of Christianity concerning tongues.  Reification practices need to be employed, if a proper doctrinal understanding is to be granted.

Relevant issues of definition should be allowed the possibility of reassessment.  Language designations may be forced into the modification mode for greater access and comfort. Pet designations such as misidentifying terminal statements of faith should be allowed into the epistemological deconstruction zone for adaptation purposes.  The Pentecostal insistence upon Baptism in, or of, the Holy Spirit as a secondary work of grace apart from salvation could easily be modified to reflect a more conservative approach by designating variant forms of terminology as descriptive designants for the function of immersion.  What is commonly referred to as Spirit Baptism may be better expressed as re-immersions, or further yielding, to the work of grace already in effect.

Placing tongues as a non-negotiable marker into the deeper life experience may also be better served through the procedure of deconstructing the doctrinal statement and reapportioning the equivalent value structure.  A greater understanding of charismata may help in this endeavor.  When tongues are viewed as terminal points of entry, a prejudicial attitude unwittingly develops against the other supernatural vestiges that grace enables the believer to be equipped with.  This evaluation could significantly advance the dialogue between Pentecostals and Evangelicals who see the practices and doctrinal expressions as extravagantly suspicious enactments that may carry hermeneutical error.  The noetic effect on theology could be a potent argument in this undertaking.

The postmodern focus on individual meaning in linguistic value is also applicable.  Self-standards in polyglot circumferences are telling.  A measure of truth exists in Derrida’s emulations concerning interpretive qualities.  Although a man can never be the final, arbitrary end in understanding, individuals are the point of conclusion for comprehension to occur concerning data input.  If knowledge is not adequately analyzed, or factual input is faulty at the origination place of entry, the end result will not be adequately appraised.  In theological deliberation, this factor can have a devastating impact on belief and the acceptability factor of that which is received as true.

Conclusion

As humans behold God thought as looking through dark glass (1 Cor 13), Derrida is correct when he asserts that:  “mastery, if there is any, does not exist,”[110] concerning knowledge and communicative possibilities.  Humans operate under the assumptions of external and internal frustrations of comprehension.  Derrida identifies these vagaries as the “progress of language.”[111]  There is a distinct warning that is a self-existent given in this equation.  When improper conclusions are drawn, or inadequate expressions are presented, the communicator runs the risk of being misunderstood, or worse, presenting fabrications of truth.  As Derrida states:  “The narrative we construct will have to be probable but, in the milieu of imagination, of language on language… (It) always risks resembling the affable.”[112]  Self-deception is an activity the honest theologian needs to put away in the intricate game communicators play in thought conveyance as true expressions of communication portals are opened for a new generation to enter into the gracious expression known as the divine logos.

Returning to the consideration of the debate over the issue of the divine conversation and inerrancy could be pursued by placing the question of infallibility into the historical matrix of its origin, by restricting it to the age and culture of the point of revelation.  This view would make allowance for cultural differences in understanding and practice that may be inconsistent with the time that the biblical record was made.  Restriction of this magnitude could potentially bridge the credulity gap between liberals and conservatives alike, as it would squarely place the emphasis of the revelation of Scripture upon the era in which the revelation was received, confining it to the human constraints of divine interaction.

A consideration such as this would fit within the Judaic expressions of salvific importance and allow for the superintendence of the origin of the tomes known as Holy Writ. It appears to fit well within the perimeters of the Zionist expectations of the fundamentalist perspective.[113]  The question of automation and authorship would also be addressed in this conception, as it would make allowance for the restrictions of the human agent’s limitations, which can be surmised through careful analysis of the textual content of the various Books of the Bible.  Differing writers utilize significant distinctions in construct and grammar.  This alludes to the unique individual contributions of the human agents who were used by God in the formulation of the Bible.  It could be the basis for further extensive research in the fascinating subject of Scriptural Inerrancy.

Within this view mans knowledge of God and nature can be seen in view of the tabula rasa theory of leaning.  Thus, there can be general truth without specific detail.  This allows God to communicate to man through His own understanding, freeing Him to work within the limitations cultures place on the people within it.  An indulgence of this nature allows scripture to be inerrant without violating the scientific data provided by study into natural phenomenon.  Whether it is the Bible, the theological conversation, or the nature of tongues, the language of faith is a fascinating and rewarding point of communication.

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[2] Niebuhr, Richard, Christ and Culture, Harper, San Francisco Ca, 1951, 2001

[3] Pyper, Andrew, The Trade Mission, Harper Flamingo Canada, The Business of Fiction           Internet article: Canadian Notes & Queries, #66, 2004 (accessed 6/10/2005)

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[4] Towns, Elmer, Theology for Today (Harcourt College Publishers, Orlando FL, 1999)

[5] ____ Niebuhr, p. 192

[6] ____ Niebuhr p. 37

[7] ____ Niebuhr p. 34

[8] ____ Niebuhr p. 33

[9] ____ Niebuhr p. 33

[10] ____ Niebuhr pp. 1-44

[11]____ Niebuhr p. 31

[12]____ Niebuhr p. 31

[13] ____ Niebuhr p. 129

[14] ____ Niebuhr p. 94

[15] ____ Niebuhr p. 69

[16] ____ Hesselgrave p. 116

[17] Little, Paul, Know Why You Believe (IVP, Downers Grove Ill, 1968) p. 31

[18] Bromiley, Geoffrey, Historical Theology: An Introduction (Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978)

  1. 319-321

[19] Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Major Bible Themes (Zondervan’s, Grand Rapids MI, 1926) pp. 10-11

[20] Brown, Harold, Heresies (Hendrickson Press, Peabody MA, 1984) pp. 26, 30

[21] ____ Brown, pp. 90, 81

[22] Hall, Christopher, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers CF: Church Fathers,

Irenaeus¨ Against Heresies, 3.1.1, cited in The Church Fathers on the Bible, ed. Frank

          Sadowski (New York: Alba House, 1987), (IVP, Downers Grove Ill, 2002)

  1. 213-214

[23] ____ Towns, p. 40

[24] ____ Towns, p. 40

[25] ____ Towns, p. 36

[26] ____ Towns, p. 43

[27] Groothuis, Douglas, Truth Decay (IVP, Dowers Grove, ILL, 2002)

[28] Noll Mark, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids

MI, 1992) p. 525

[29] Marsden, George, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Eerdmans Publishing

Company, Grand Rapids MI, 1991) p. 37

[30] MacArthur, John, Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry (W Publishing Group, Nashville TN, 1995)

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[31] ____ Groothuis

[32]Perlman, David, San Francisco Chronicle science editor, internet article: Surprises in first map

of chimp chromosome  (Thursday May 27, 2004, accessed: 6/11/2005) www.sfgate.com

[33] Hesselgrave, David, Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally (Zondervan Publishing House,

Grand Rapids MI, 1991)

[34] Hesselgrave, David, Internet Website: Article: Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally

(accessed 5/30/2002) http://www.amazon.com

[35] ____ Hesselgrave, P. 157

[36] ____ Hesselgrave, p. 294

[37] ____ Hesselgrave, p. 44

[38] ____ Hesselgrave, p. 45

[39] ____ Hesselgrave, p. 47

[40] ____ Hesselgrave, p. 47

[41] ____ Hesselgrave p. 48

[42] ____ Hesselgrave p. 48

[43] ____ Hesselgrave p. 365

[44] ____ Hesselgrave p. 122

[45] ____ Hesselgrave p. 447

[46] ____ Hesselgrave p. 368

[47] ____ Hesselgrave p. 96

[48] ____ Hesselgrave p. 522

[49] ____ Hesselgrave pp. 512-13

[50] ____ Hesselgrave p. 537

[51] ____ Hesselgrave p.528

[52] ____ Hesselgrave p. 49

[53] ____ Hesselgrave pp. 571-638

[54] ____ Hesselgrave p. 574

[55] ____ Hesselgrave p. 604

[56] ____ Hesselgrave p. 604

[57] ____ Hesselgrave p. 604

[58] ____ Hesselgrave p. 605

[59] ____ Hesselgrave p. 582

[60] ____ Hesselgrave p. 578

[61] ____ Hesselgrave p. 634

[62] ____ Hesselgrave p. 604

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2001) p.11

[64] ____Elborough, p.11

[65] Groothuis, Douglas, Truth Decay (IVP, Dowers Grove, ILL, 2002) p. 37

[66] Nietzsche, Friedrich, Human, All Too Human (I), (trans. by Gary Handwerk, Stanford CA, ND

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[67]_____ Elborough, Travis, pp. 9-10

[68] Graham Ward Ed., The Postmodern God (Blackwell Publishers LTD, Malden MA, 1997), p. 21

[69]Ott, Douglas, Power Encounter, (Central Bible College Press, Springfield, MO, 1999) p.35

[70]Evans, C.J. Claude, Strategies of Deconstruction (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis,

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[71]Rorty, Richard, Essays on Heideggar and Others (Cambridge University Press, UK, 1991)

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[72]Rorty, Richard, Rorty and His Critics, Robert Brandon, Ed. (Blackwell Publishers, Malden MA,

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[73]Aquinas, Thomas, Great Books of the Western World, Robert Hutchins, Ed. Vol. 3 (Britannica,

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[75]Adler, Mortimer, The Great Idea, article: Language, Robert Hutchins Ed. in chief (Great Books,

Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago ILL, 1952) p. 942

[76]_____ Adler, p.943

[77] Carson, D.A., Ed., Telling the Truth (Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000) p.48

[78] _____  Carson, p.172

[79]_____ Nietzsche, pp.15, 16

[80] Derrida, Jacques, The Archeology of the Frivolous, John Leavey Jr. trans. (University of

Nebraska Press, 1973) pp.71, 76,77

[81] Erickson, Millard, Christian Theology (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 1983, 4, 5) pp 41-42

[82] Foucault, Michael, The Order of Things, Les Leschoses trans. (Vintage Books, NY, 1973)

pp 42, 3

[83]_____ Carson, pp. 86, 7

[84]_____ Carson, p. 43

[85]Hesselgrave, David, Edward Rommen, Contextualization (William Carey Library, Pasadena,

CA, 1989)

[86]_____  Hesselgrave, p.179

[87]_____ Adler, p.942

[88] Cotterell, Peter,  & Max Turner, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation (IVP, Downers Grove,

ILL, 1989) p.53

[89] Batey, Rich, Jesus of the Forgotten City (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1991) pp.65-82

[90] La Sor, William, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament (Eerdman’s Press, Grand Rapids

  1. MI) 1972

[91] McLoughlin, William, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform (University of Chicago Press ILL,

1978) pp. 21, 22, 23

[92] Packer, J. I., article: Providence, New Bible Dictionary (Tyndale Press, Wheaton, ILL, 1962,

1982) pp. 990-1

[93] Plato, Timaeus, Great Books of the Western World, Vol.7 (Britannica, Chicago IL, Robert

Hutchins, Gen. Ed., 1952) pp.465-6

[94] Descartes, Meditations, Great Books of the Western World, Vol.31 (Britannica, Chicago IL,

Robert Hutchins, Gen. Ed., 1952) pp.87-8

[95] _____Descartes, p.90

[96] Dempster, Murray, Byron Klavs, Douglas Petersen, Eds. The Globalization of Pentecostalism

(Regnum Books, Carlisle CA, 1999) p. xiii

[97] Menzies, William, Spirit and Power (Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids MI, 2000) pp.27-30

[98]___Dempster, pp.289, 290

[99] Synan, Vinson, Christianity Today Article: World Growth at 19 Million a Year (accessed:

6/08/2005) Website: www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/nov16/8td28a.html

[100]___ Rorty, p. 83

[101] Virkler, Henry, Hermeneutics (Unpublished Lecture notes, N.D., Liberty University, 1981)

[102] Gangel, Kenneth, Unwrap Your Spiritual Gifts (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1960), pp. 46-47

[103] Hughes, Paul, Website: INSIGHT On Religion, History & Society: A Forum for Conservative

Christian Thought (article: Are the Anti-Pentecostal Arguments Valid The Case of

I Corinthians 12-14 Volume 3, No. 1, October 1997,updated: Oct. 2002) (accessed:

6/11/2005) http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Crete/6111/pneumatikos/nl1097.htm

[104] Bruce, F.F., Acts, NICOT (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1997) pp.51-54

[105] _____ Adler, p.942

[106] _____ Adler, p.945

[106] _____ Adler, p. 946

 {8] Hilderbrandt, Wilt, An Old Testament Theology of the Spirit of God (Hendrickson Publishers,

Peabody, MA, 1995) p. 76

[109]___McLoughlin, pp 152-160

[110]_____ Rorty, p. 78

[111]_____ Rorty, p. 78

[112]_____ Derrida, p. 78

[113] ____ Marsden, pp.52-53

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