Ideas Have Consequences

by David Browder

Ideas have consequences. In the twentieth century, the ideologies of Fascism, Marxism, and, in many countries (including our own), of racial superiority, showed, in often terrible ways, the truth of this saying. We can track many ascendant philosophies over the course of history and see the effects they had on people in real life.

Now, in the early 21st Century, we will see where the philosophical idea of Postmodernism will take us. What will the effects of this idea be on everyday people like you and me?

(What is Postmodernism? Postmodernism is a philosophy that is skeptical about the existence of any truth that applies to everyone and everything (objective truth); that certainly includes divine truth. What does Postmodernism offer instead? Competing subjective or group narratives. It makes everything about power. Here is a brief introduction.)

The default mode of the human being is to exercise power, and Postmodernism justifies this exercise: it grants you the power to justify your deeds that hurt others — your spouse, maybe, or your children — or to justify the less savory aspects of yourself.

But when we exercise that power, what is the effect on others or in our homes? The fact of the matter is that these circular and cyclical power struggles leave wakes of destruction in their paths (we see this every day in our politics, regardless of which side we are on). And what do our children learn when they see us exercise this kind of power?

Is there an answer, an alternative to this destructive power? Yes — but we must change the axis of power altogether. The axis to which we must shift is constructed upon love. Read the Galatians passage below. In Galatians, Paul says, in his own way, that the axis of Christian being is not built on the works of the flesh (the exercise of power) but on a new creation that has crucified the flesh.

In writing this, it seems easy to say — and it is. In actuality, though, it is impossible for us to change our axis without the gospel putting to death the old and calling to life the new. Getting this right is a continual putting to death of the flesh (power) and rising to new life (love, faith, and hope). It is this new way that the church offers to a world wedded to the harmful ways of power.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:19–24 ESV