“It seems so irrelevant to go and ask people, ‘What is Postmodernism?’, and it is a weird conversation starter that’s for certain. But, it’s a question that I know the significance of, because as I started to explore it, my life was changed by exploring the question…”Kent Williamson
“People say that today is a different world than it was thirty years ago, and for the most part they are right – we do think about things differently. Then of course to be able to explore that, you have got to be able to ask the question…what is Postmodernism?”Brad Williamson
Here’s the plan…
In this booklet you will be tested to see how severely Postmodernism has affected you. You will be asked a series of questions throughout the booklet, and all we ask is that you answer each question truthfully, and then at the end tally up your score to see your result. For each question you will be given multiple-choice answers to choose from. Each multiple choice box will have a certain colour (either blue, red, or grey). When you choose your answer remember the colour of the box (you may choose more than one if you wish), and then compare your colour with the test results at the end. For example, your answers may be ‘all blue’, ‘mostly blue’, ‘some red’, and so on. An exact track of the colours you choose will not be necessary for the test to work.
We ask you to think carefully about what you read and try your best to grasp this difficult subject.
Let’s begin by asking a question
First, let’s begin by asking you the question – What is Postmodernism? Most likely you will not know the answer (very few people do), and so we will begin by attempting to explain what Postmodernism is.
Postmodernism is not easy to define and there are many definitions. However…
“A recent French philosopher (Jean-François Lyotard), defined Postmodernism as, ‘Incredulity towards all meta-narratives’. Now, that may sound like a mouthful, but it basically means to have a sceptical attitude toward all claims of absolute truth.”Jim Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy – Taylor University
“…’Meta-narratives’… The actual word he uses in French, really translates into English as ‘Big stories’. There are all kinds of ‘big stories’. One kind of ‘big story’ might be, ‘Human beings, by way of human reason are capable of knowing everything’. Another ‘big story’ is that, ‘By way of modern medicine, we are able to cure all ills’. Those are just some ‘big stories’.”Bruce Ellis Benson, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy – Wheaton College
“The Postmodern would say, ‘There are many, many different stories…’“Win Corduan, Professor of Philosophy, Taylor University
In essence, Postmodernism is to have a sceptical attitude to all claims of absolute truth.
It is a scepticism and suspicion towards all of the grand, large-scale theories and philosophies of the world around us, and a belief that truth is open to interpretation, and is still yet to be defined in many respects.
TEST ONE: Is there such a thing as absolute truth?
3) I don’t know
‘POST’ is what came after
Postmodernism is really the period that came after Modernism. In Modernism, man tried to find truth by using his own reason and logic. This was the period in time that is often associated with the rise of science (a great increase in human knowledge). A key definer of Modernism was a man by the name of Descartes. He, along with thinkers like Isaac Newton, believed that human reason alone was sufficient for mankind to be able to arrive at absolute truth. In other words, Modernism is the belief that we can figure out absolute truth by ourselves without the help of God.
So, modernism is the belief that by our own powers of reason and logic, mankind can discover the truth about any given subject. Therefore, modernism does away with the need for God to tell us what is true, and that we as human beings can figure out absolute truth for ourselves.
So Postmodernism is…
“Whereas the Modernist believes in absolute or universal truth, and the sufficiency of reason to discover it for us; the Postmodernist believes that reason is insufficient, and there is no absolute truth. Both the Modernist and the Postmodernist have it half right. The Modernist is correct in believing there is absolute truth, but incorrect in thinking that reason is sufficient to get us there. The Postmodernist is correct in denying the sufficiency of reason, but incorrect in drawing the conclusion that there is no absolute truth.”Jim Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy – Taylor University
TEST TWO: How do you define right and wrong?
1) God has defined right and wrong
2) The Church defines right and wrong
3) Society defines right and wrong
4) I decide right and wrong
5) There is no such thing as right and wrong
Common Postmodern statements are, “Truth is what you believe it to be”, or “Everybody has their own truth”. A Postmodernist may say, “What may be true for you, may not necessarily be true for me”, and so on. This is called ‘Self-determination’ – each individual defines for themselves what is true.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant who lived in the 18th Century proposed that the most important thing in deciding truth was that the INDIVIDUAL himself choose right and wrong. This he called ‘Autonomy’ (self-determination). In other words, each person chooses right and wrong according to what they think.
“[The philosopher Immanuel Kant] proposed that the most important thing in ethical decision making was that the individual for himself become convinced of what is right and wrong. Immanuel Kant called that autonomy (self determination) – deciding for yourself what right and wrong is all about.”Richard Eyer, Director Emeritus – Concordia Bioethics Institute
Towards the end of the 19th Century the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche pushed this thinking even further. He, who is famous for his saying, “God is dead”, argued that morality was actually a bad thing, and that as humans, we should be the ones to make up our own moral code. He further reasoned that if there is such a thing as morality, and we as human beings think we can provide a foundation for that morality, then are we not in effect ‘God’?
“There are people for instance like Nietzsche [and his proposal that we make up our own values, and invent our own tablets of virtue], because Nietzsche [thought] that one ought to think on one’s own, and he sort of glorifies the self in the way he thinks. Nietzsche’s argument goes like this: If there is morality, and we think that we can provide a kind of foundation for morality, then aren’t we in effect – God?”Bruce Ellis Benson, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy – Wheaton College
“Reason doesn’t really guarantee consensus, because you can start from lots of different foundations and you will get to different conclusions – all using reason. And so there came to be this loss of confidence in science as a grand narrative with all the answers”Angus Menuge, Chair of Philosophy – Concordia University
In the 20th Century, Western Society went from a tremendous confidence in reason to discovering absolute truth, to finally where we are today, where many deny that there is such a thing as absolute truth. The basis for this shift being that reason by itself had failed to aid man in his quest for absolute truth, as many had used reason in their thinking and experiments, but had arrived at completely different conclusions. The failure of modernism in helping mankind to discover absolute truth resulted in many having no confidence that absolute truth could ever be discovered.
“Today, the question: ‘What is truth?‘ seems to imply that there is no truth. It is not a question of, ‘Which truth?‘, which philosophers may have asked in the past, but now it’s more a question of ‘Is there any such thing as truth?‘, and of course the assumption is, ‘No there isn’t, everybody has to make up their own truth – everybody has to create their own virtual reality.‘”Richard Eyer, Director Emeritus – Concordia Bioethics Institute
Because of the failure of reason, many today have given up the quest in the search for absolute truth, and so we now have a generation that doubts whether there really is such a thing as absolute truth. In fact, many reason that if there really is no such thing as absolute truth, then why bother looking for it in the first place? Those that have adopted this philosophy tend to have a kind of apathy towards truth claims – a classic Postmodernist.
“That is what sets the scene for the 20th Century, where we find a completion of this degeneration – from this tremendous confidence in reason to discover absolute truth, to finally where we are today. That is, a denial that there is such a thing as absolute truth, precisely because reason was insufficient to get us there.”Jim Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy – Taylor University
TEST THREE: Are you searching for the truth?
2) No, I have found the truth already
3) No, I tried but gave up
4) No, I’ve never bothered
5) There is no such thing as truth
We find that today’s Postmodern generation tends to suffer from an apathy towards searching for truth, and so we have a generation of ‘zombies’ who don’t take the time to think things through or search for what is true as much as previous generations once did (such as those who have thrown away this leaflet after reading only a few sentences).
“Postmodernists see truth as an individual construction, that we each choose what we want to believe. So people form their moral beliefs based on what they like – on what gives them pleasure. What has happened with Postmodernism is this common statement: ‘There are no absolutes‘.”Gene Edward Veith, Jr. Culture Editor – World Magazine
Postmodern thinking has had an impact on virtually every aspect of Western culture. Today, almost every truth that was once held as fundamentally true, is now openly questioned and often ridiculed.
“I think you see the signs or symptoms of Postmodernism everywhere you look, if you have the eyes to see it. [For example] in the arts, particularly in film, where people who believe in absolute truth (pastors, priests, or clergy), are often represented as hypocrites. [Also] a general scepticism towards any absolute truth claims – a kind of moral apathy that I find more and more prevalent among college age young people, who don’t really take seriously the idea that there is some ‘right way’, some absolutely right way that they should be living their lives.”Jim Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy – Taylor University
“All of these gave form to what Nietzsche basically had said, and what he had said is that, ‘There is no real sense of meaning. Each of us has to decide for ourselves what life is all about, we have to define right and wrong for ourselves.’ This is not something that has any objectivity, it is purely subjective. It is up to each of us to decide.”Richard Eyer, Director Emeritus – Concordia Bioethics Institute
TEST FOUR: What is your view of truth?
1) Truth is unchangeable
2) Truth can change
3) There is no such thing as absolute truth
Open your eyes…
Take a look around you. Seriously – step back and take a look at our culture. Today we see that the laws of our country and our culture’s moral perceptions are constantly changing. This occurs because without a source of absolute truth or a foundation for morality, it is really just one individual or group’s opinion being played off against another. For example, let’s take two of the big arguments that have faced our modern culture: the issues of Abortion and Homosexuality. One group says abortion is wrong, another group says it is okay. Another group says homosexuality is okay, another says it is wrong. Which of these opposing views are right? Which is wrong? How do we know which view is true, and which view is false? A typical Postmodernist would say: “Who cares!”, because to them, the truth of these subjects (the right answer) will probably never be known. So what is the point of arguing? Can’t we all just get along?
“Things that never would have been discussed, much less indulged in, in our culture [such as homosexuality], things that we formally would have been ashamed of, which would have to be called deviant – we parade now and are quite proud of.”Jim Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy – Taylor University
“So we talk about ‘sexual preference’ which is really a remarkable term… It would be like saying that people who stole for a living (a thief) had a different ‘acquisitional preference’ (i.e. they like to obtain things by stealing them, as opposed to working and paying for them).”Ken Myers, Executive Producer, Mars Hill Radio
“People will say, ‘Well, this is my choice, this is how I live. You can’t tell me to live differently, because I am the ultimate authority. I make decisions on what I like, what I desire, and what I will. You can’t tell me that this is wrong. I have decided that this is okay for me by my likes, and no one can tell me differently.‘”Angus Menuge, Chair of Philosophy – Concordia University
“Very frequently the one thing you are not allowed to say anymore is that somebody is ‘wrong’, you are not even allowed to be corrected by the Bible – [as] it all depends upon your interpretation.”D. A. Carson, Professor of New Testament – Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Because of the influence of Postmodern thinking, we have an atmosphere in our culture that is hostile to anyone that has strong moral convictions about right and wrong. In fact, to tell someone that they are wrong is often seen as a personal attack.
TEST FIVE: When someone tells you that you are wrong, how do you react? What do you think of that person?
1) I don’t mind being told I am wrong, as long as the claim can be justified.
1) If proven wrong, I will take steps to change/correct the problem.
2) I don’t like being told I am wrong.
3) People shouldn’t judge one another.
4) No one has the right to tell me that I am wrong, and tell me what to do.
5) I tend to react in anger.
6) There is no right and wrong, so I don’t care what others say.
“People keep saying that this is a more tolerant age. In fact, it has redefined tolerance, and in some ways has become less tolerant… Under the older definition of tolerance, you were tolerant if you held to certain strong views, but insisted that those who disagreed with you have every right to articulate their own views. Nowadays, the new view of tolerance says that you must not hold that any views are right or wrong …and now with each one thinking that he or she is at the centre of the universe – if our interests clash, then there are going to be fences, or war, or rape, or pillage… all, all, all, because each of us is saying: ‘I will be God.“D. A. Carson, Professor of New Testament – Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“If you go all the way back to Genesis [the first book in the Bible], we see that what happened is that the original order was: God, Others, Self. And the inverted sinful order is to put Self first, Others second, and God is a kind of place of last resort. That expresses their rebellion.”Angus Menuge, Chair of Philosophy – Concordia University
“At the heart of all sin, is this self-love that de-thrones God, it ‘de-gods’ God, and makes ‘me’ the centre of the universe. So if God says, ‘…I don’t care, they can do whatever they want’; then He is denying His own significance – His own significance as God. That is why the Bible speaks of the ‘wrath of God’. It is not bad tempered whimsy; [but rather] His principled, Holy response to the sheer audacious defiance of people made in His image, made by Him and for Him, who now shake their puny fists in His face and sing with Frank Sinatra, ‘I did it my way.‘ …[Many say] ‘God – if he, she, or it exists, must serve ME, or else I will re-define God.‘ And there is the beginning of idolatry.”D. A. Carson, Professor of New Testament – Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
We also see that Postmodernism has impacted the way we perceive who God is. Many who still believe in some kind of ‘god’ have created a god to suit themselves – one they feel comfortable with (which the Bible calls idolatry). For example, someone may say, “I am a homosexual Christian”, and you may think to yourself, ‘How could someone say that? Isn’t homosexuality condemned in the Bible?’ The answer to that is ‘Yes’, the Bible does condemn homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 7), but the person who has made the claim of being a Christian and a homosexual at the same time has created a ‘god’ in their mind that says homosexuality is okay.
“Human beings have been creating god in their own image, I assume, for as long as human beings have existed.”Bruce Ellis Benson, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy – Wheaton College
Contradictions don’t matter
“One quality of Postmodern people today is to compartmentalise their lives, and compartmentalise their minds. And so it is very often you have someone who has a religious compartment, and maybe it is very solid, orthodox and Biblical (and they believe in Jesus and they believe in the Bible), and yet in another compartment of their lives, they hold beliefs that are totally contradictory to that.”Gene Edward Veith, Jr. Culture Editor – World Magazine
Postmodern thinking often affects those who would consider themselves to hold very conservative and religious based views. For example, someone who claims to be a Christian and believe the Bible, and yet at the same time has a lifestyle and holds views that are completely contradictory to the Bible and the Christian faith.
“Even beliefs and lifestyles become like a visit to the shopping centre. What kind of beliefs would you like? [Someone may say] ‘I can be a Christian and believe in reincarnation…‘ [I would reply] ‘Wait a minute! There is a contradiction there because Hebrews 9:27 talks about you die once and then judgment – there is no reincarnation‘.[They may reply] ‘Oh well, I like Christianity to some degree, and I like reincarnation. Reincarnation is cool – why can’t I have both?‘ And now we have kind of brought that metaphor down to the point where we think that our lifestyle can be like that, contradictions don’t matter, and our beliefs can be like that. We can put together a nice big buffet of things that we like.”Angus Menuge, Chair of Philosophy – Concordia University
Really, that is what we see in the Western world today – “A nice big buffet of beliefs”, all of which contradict each other. This is the result of ‘autonomy’ – each individual deciding for themselves what truth is.
“And so instead of us trying to conform to the image of God, we want God to conform to the image of what we think life ought to be about. So God can be a Republican or a Democrat, God can be a materialist, …whatever.”Bill Romanowski, Professor of Communication, Calvin College
TEST SIX: What is your concept of God?
1) My God is exactly as He is defined in the Bible
2) I have no choice in the matter.
3) My God is defined for me by my religion.
4) God is who I have experienced him to be.
5) My God is based on my own concepts and thoughts.
6) I do not know who/what God is.
7) I do not believe in God.
Having said all of this, it still seems like a nice idea to let each person believe in a ‘god’ of their own invention, and live a life full of contradictions and without consequence. Surely it does not really matter what someone believes, as long as they don’t hurt anybody? Right?
It seems a fair question, only for one BIG problem…
“If there is no absolute truth – no overarching story… no ‘meta-narrative’… no ‘big story’, what is there to give meaning to your life? What is there to give meaning to anything? I guess I just don’t understand why someone would reject the concept of absolute truth, especially without thinking through the consequences.”Brad and Kent Williamson
Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Absolutely! There are many examples of absolute truths, but let’s think about just three basic truths that are self-evident and easily proven:
1. The Law of Non-contradiction (a basic principle in logic). It says that no contradiction can be true (i.e. two opposing views cannot BOTH be true. By The Law of Non-contradiction, one must be wrong and the other true, or both false.) Also, to try to deny the truth of this law is to actually affirm it. To even say that , ‘there is no such thing as absolute truth’, is a contradictory statement, because to say, ‘there is no absolute truth’ is to make an absolute statement – a truth claim!
“It is the very nature of truth, that it is what it is independently of what anybody says. So, even before anybody knew that the earth was round (or relatively round), that it’s floating in space and orbiting a certain star in our solar system, it was still the case that the earth was round and was orbiting the sun. Whether anybody believes it, is in a way incidental. The insight of the Postmodernist is that there are many perspectives; but what Postmodernists tend to miss is that the claim that there are all these perspectives is to make a truth claim.”Jim Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy – Taylor University
2. The Law of Identity (a thing is what it is). This is another logical absolute. Everything that exists has identity. An entity without an identity cannot exist because it would be nothing. Also, an object cannot have two identities. E.g. a tree cannot be a telephone, and an apple cannot be a cat.
3. The Law of Sin and Death – humans grow old and eventually die. As they say, “We are part of the ultimate statistic – ten out of ten people die”.
“We are [currently] sitting in a cemetery, [and] we are surrounded by people who reached the end of their lives and died, which is what human beings do. When you are dead there will be no arguing your life or death. Now the Postmodern thinker would say: ‘There are no absolute truths’. [But when you die] it will not be up to you to decide if the truth is relevant, or if you want to accept it, or if you think it is appropriate or not – you’re dead! So in a sense we have some kind of an absolute truth around us, which is that human beings get old and die. We can’t argue that, there is no negotiating it. You almost have to say: ‘Come here and stand and look around and see that there is an absolute truth.’ Yet we still have this Postmodern thought process that wants to say, ‘But truth is relative, [and] we don’t have to accept that there are absolute truths.’ Well, if nothing else, it is this. This is not an option – you will be here [in the grave one day].”Brad Williamson
So truth exists…now what?
Well, you could search for truth by using only your own reason and logic, and not look to any higher source of truth. But as discussed earlier, mankind tried this in the age of modernism, and it didn’t work. Of course, you can try this way if you want, but it will only be a life of aimless wandering.
Christians however, make the claim that truth comes from a Divine source – the Almighty God of the Bible. From Him all truth flows, as God is The Co-ordinator and The Maker of the universe, and hence The Law Giver. Therefore, Christians make claims of truth and declare what is right and wrong, not based upon their own opinions (which count for nothing), but because God has said what is right and wrong in His Word (the Bible). The Bible is the Christian’s source of authority. So instead of groping around in the dark for truth, God’s Word sheds light and reveals truth to us. The Bible says of itself: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path… Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:105, 104)
What about you? Do you hold to unchanging moral values? How can you be sure of anything without a solid foundation of truth like the Bible?
When it comes to the crunch…
How would you answer these questions?
Is murder right or wrong?
1) Murder is absolutely wrong
2) Murder is okay in some situations
3) Murder is not wrong
4) Murder is neither right or wrong
Is stealing right or wrong?
1) Stealing is absolutely wrong
2) Stealing is okay in some situations
3) Stealing is not wrong
4) Stealing is neither right or wrong
Is rape right or wrong?
1) Rape is absolutely wrong
2) Rape is okay in some situations
3) Rape is not wrong
4) Rape is neither right or wrong
Is lying right or wrong?
1) Lying is absolutely wrong
2) Lying is okay in some situations
3) Lying is not wrong
4) Lying is neither right or wrong
“I remember talking to a young undergraduate student at Cambridge University a few years ago, and he came up to me after one of the talks and said: ‘I want to ask you why you should be pushing your worldview over against mine?’ I said: ‘Tell me more about your worldview.’ He said: ‘Well, I really am a committed Postmodernist. I do think that we create our own frames of reference, our own moral systems, our own truth structures. I really do think that.’ I said: ‘How do you go about the question of defining right and wrong? Do you have categories for right and wrong?’ He said: ‘To be honest, I think that is one of the hardest questions for Postmodernists to address. I don’t like to think about questions dealing with evil, because at the end of the day I don’t really see how an intelligent Postmodernist can address questions of evil really convincingly and seriously.’ I said to him: ‘Do you hear what you have just said?’ He said: ‘What do you mean?’ I said: ‘We have just come through the bloodiest century in world history. We have managed to bump off about one and a half million Armenians, about six million Jews, about twenty million Ukrainians, about a third of the population of Cambodia, close to fifty million Chinese, plus whatever we are doing now in tribal squabbles in Africa, and on and on and on. Not fewer than a hundred million people butchered, apart from war and disease, not to mention rape or corruption, and YOU don’t have a category for evil. And then you have the audacity to ask me how my worldview is better!’
[To say that] ‘Every cultural artefact has exactly the same truth significance or value as every other cultural artefact,’ is cultural nonsense. Is Hitler’s perspective exactly the same as Mother Teresa’s in terms of value? Does it all depend on your point of view? And there are some people that actually argue that! At the end of the day, you can’t actually say, ‘Hitler was wrong.’ He was merely wrong from another point of view.D. A. Carson, Professor of New Testament – Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
I would want to say that there is something profoundly bankrupt about that sort of stance.
What I want to argue with my young Cambridge friend is precisely that Christians can make sense of the evil of the 20th Century and the evil that will take place in the 21st Century, in a way that Postmodernists can’t. But it also has a solution for that evil.”
TEST EIGHT: Was Hitler’s holocaust of the Jews right or wrong?
1) It was wrong
2) I don’t know
3) Nobody knows
4) It was neither right nor wrong
5) It was wrong only from some people’s point of view.
6) It was right
“I think that the worst thing about Postmodernism is the tendency to exalt relativism, the sort of thing that Socrates was fighting in ancient Greece – which is the idea that whatever I think is right for me and whatever you think is right for you. And Socrates saw that society cannot stand that, society cannot live on the basis of relativism. There has to be some sort of shared values, some shared commitments about what is right and wrong.”David Fletcher, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy – Wheaton College
This concludes the Postmodernism test section of the booklet.
See which category the colours to your answers fall into and read your result:
All Blue: You have not been affected by Postmodernism, which is a very rare thing in our current generation. You hold to strong moral convictions, and have a solid foundation for truth. We hope this booklet will help you maintain this position. Mostly Blue: You have been affected by Postmodern thinking to some degree. This may surprise you as you may have previously believed your views were quite solid and orthodox. It may be the case that you have compromised on some moral issues. If you claim to be a Bible believing Christian we would encourage you to seriously take another look at any answers you can that were not all blue.
A mix of Blue and Red: You have been affected by Postmodernism, but you do hold to the possibility of truth. A mixture of colours indicates that you are very confused on the subject of truth, and have confused foundation for morality. We can only recommend that you seriously take another look at the answers you gave, and perhaps read the next section.
Mostly Red: You have been seriously affected by Postmodern thinking. It has a strong influence on the way you think about the subject of truth, but some of your views do indicate that you believe the truth is discoverable. This result also indicates that you have virtually no moral convictions. We can only recommend that you seriously take another look at the answers you gave, and perhaps read the next section.
All Red: You are a classic example of a Postmodernist with no foundation for morality other than your own opinions. We can only say, once again, that truth does exist, and we recommend that you seriously take another look at the answers you gave, and perhaps read the next section.
“Maybe because of our fallen intellect we can never know the truth fully, but truth exists – it’s objective, it’s transcendent, and it’s an absolute. The Ten Commandments, ‘Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill. These are absolute, objective, moral principles that transcend [or rise above] the culture, [and] transcend the individual. And because they transcend our culture we can even criticise our culture when it falls short morally, when there is an unjust or oppressive society.”Gene Edward Veith, Jr. Culture Editor – World Magazine
Winston Churchill was right when he said: “If a nation won’t be ruled by God, it will be ruled by anarchy.” A city whose drivers are lawful, has the liberty of flowing, problem-free traffic. But if drivers refuse to obey traffic laws, or decide to make up their own traffic laws, there will be accidents, pain, and chaos. We are suffering the aftermath of autonomy – each individual determining and then doing that which is right according to what they think. Consequently, our nation has slid down into moral confusion and lawlessness. We have lost our way.
This country needs a strong foundation for morality, and a reference point of right and wrong from a source higher than our own reason. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the majority of people (and even the leaders) of this country based their morality on God’s Moral Law – commonly known as The Ten Commandments (found in Exodus chapter 20 of the Holy Bible). They are God’s Standard of right and wrong given to mankind, and the Law that the Bible teaches we will all be measured against on the Day of Judgment.
This way, God has set the same standard of right and wrong regardless of who we are, where we live, or what we think. Each individual, community, and nation is therefore responsible to know God’s law, live by its principles in the knowledge that they will be accountable for their actions when they appear before God.
The Ten Commandments are a reflection of God’s perfect character, and a good standard to try and live by, but a careful comparison of ourselves to its perfect standard reveals a fundamental problem that each of us must face, and which will be explained next.
How about you?
Firstly, test to see how ‘good’ you are in God’s eyes by seeing how many of the Ten Commandments you have kept. As you go through the Commandments, we hope the problem will become more and more apparent. Choose either ‘kept’ or ‘broken’ as your answer. Remember, if you choose ‘kept’ it means that you are saying you have kept that particular Commandment perfectly all of your life so far without exception.
1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have always loved God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. – Kept – Broken
2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have always held to a concept of God exactly as the Bible defines. – Kept – Broken
3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have never taken the Lord’s Name in vain by using God’s/Jesus Name as a curse word (called blasphemy in the Bible.) – Kept – Broken
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have always hallowed the Lord’s Day (Sunday) by refraining from unnecessary working, shopping, and the pursuit of worldly pleasures. – Kept – Broken
5. “Honour thy father and thy mother.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have always obeyed your parents and had a perfect heart towards them. – Kept – Broken
6. “Thou shalt not kill.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have never killed another human being (war and civil punishment being an exception), and not only that, but also to have never hated anyone in your heart. (God considers hatred to be murder [1 John 3:15]). – Kept – Broken
7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” To have kept this Commandment fully you need to have never looked at another person with sexual desire (lust). (Jesus said that to look with lust is to commit adultery in your heart [Matthew 5:28]) – Kept – Broken
8. “Thou shalt not steal.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have never stolen anything regardless of its value. (Note: wasting time at work, illegal downloads, pirating DVDs and CDs, and cheating on tests all count as theft.) – Kept – Broken
9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have always told the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, all of your life without exception. (Note: exaggerations, whites lies, and half-truths all count as bearing false witness). – Kept – Broken
10. “Thou shalt not covet.” To have kept this Commandment you need to have always been content with all of your possessions and never had desires for things that do not belong to you. – Kept – Broken
Tough standard? Well, that is God’s perfect standard – could you expect anything less? How many of the Commandments have you broken? According to the Bible, you only need to have broken one of them to be counted as a lawbreaker (a sinner) in the eyes of God, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10).
Now, if God was to judge you by the standard of the Ten Commandments on Judgment Day, do you think you would be innocent or guilty? So would it be Heaven or Hell?
Here is what the Bible says:
“The fearful, and unbelieving [atheists, sceptics and doubters], and the abominable [the vile and revolting], and murderers [the Bible calls hatred murder of the heart], and whoremongers [those who work in/arrange prostitution, pimps], and sorcerers [those who practise divination, e.g. fortune tellers], and idolaters [idol worshippers, those having a wrong order of affections], and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). “Now the works of the flesh are manifest [or, ‘made known’], which are these; Adultery [sexual relations with someone else’s husband or wife], fornication [sexual relations before marriage], uncleanness [vulgarity, rudeness], lasciviousness [having a lustful, sensual appetite], Idolatry [idol worshippers, those having a wrong order of affections], witchcraft [the craft or practise of witches], hatred [God calls hatred murder of the heart], variance [argumentative], emulations [rivalry, unhealthily competition, always trying to outdo], wrath [violent passion], strife [argument and conflict], seditions [stirring up of trouble against authority, trouble making], heresies [cult members, a wilful belief in false teachings – especially in theology], Envyings [a feeling of ill-will towards the success of others, jealousy], murders, drunkenness [frequently drinking to excess], revellings [eating and drinking in a riotous and noisy manner], and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators [those who engage in sexual relations before marriage], nor idolaters [idol worshippers, those having a wrong order of affections], nor adulterers [those who engage in sexual relations with someone else’s husband or wife, or those who divorce and remarry before the former wife/husband has died], nor effeminate [womanish, unmanly, those given to excess pleasure, sensual], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [homosexuals], Nor thieves, nor covetous [those with an unhealthy desire for that which does not belong to them], nor drunkards [those that frequently drink to excess], nor revilers [those who assault others with bitter verbal abuse], nor extortioners [those who ‘rip-off’ others for gain, ‘con-men’], shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
The Bible says: “God is angry with the wicked [lawbreakers – sinners] every day” (Psalm 7:11). Like a good judge in a courtroom who is angry with a criminal for the crimes he has committed, so God is rightly angry with us because of our sin, and is bound by the Law to make certain that justice is done when the Day of Judgment comes. God would not be good and perfect if He overlooked our sin, and would be corrupt if he let lawbreakers like us into Heaven. It is true that God is loving and merciful, but at the same time He cannot compromise His holiness and justice. It seems as though our sin has condemned us with no hope of escaping punishment…
Can I escape?
The good news is that God has made a way for you and I to be saved! In His great love, God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world – the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was a man just like you or I, but He was also Almighty God in the flesh, and so He could not and did not sin. He came to fulfil (or keep) the law perfectly and yet was punished on the cross as a criminal to pay the penalty which our sins deserved. We sinned against God, yet Jesus suffered and died in our place on the cross. It is like this: our sin carries the death penalty, but the Lord Jesus Christ took that punishment upon Himself in our place – He became a substitute for our sin. Then on the third day He rose from the dead and defeated our enemy – death. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). He said: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish [in Hell], but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The Lord Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross, rose from the dead the third day, and asks that you simply repent (turn away from all) of your sin and believe on Him to be saved. To truly believe on Him, is to trust Him, and Him alone for your eternal salvation the same way you would trust a parachute to save you if you had to jump from an aeroplane. Repentance is to confess your sins to God and then turn away from them.
Today, repent (turn from sin) and trust totally in what Christ has done for you on the cross with all your heart. Then pick up a Bible (Authorised King James Version), and read it every day to learn more about God and what He wants you to do with your life. Then find a good Bible believing church to meet with other believers that can help you grow as a Christian. May God be pleased to lead you to THE TRUTH – Jesus Christ the Saviour of sinners.
Jesus said: “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life : no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know THE TRUTH, and THE TRUTH shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).