A fascinating interview between two gifted artists from the Christian music scene illustrates a deep worldview divide.
One of the rotten fruits of postmodernism is skepticism of "Western logic," an attitude that has lately become fashionable. Nonsense is the certain result.
The law of non-contradiction says that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same sense. If this law does not hold, communication itself is impossible. When communication is not possible, at best two people can only exchange raw emotions. Sometimes an exchange of raw emotions (for example, a yelling match) results in physical violence as the end of a breakdown of communication. And indeed, lately we are all witnesses to screaming, yelling, and vicious invective, whether masked, socially distant, virtual, or physical. It should be obvious that civilization itself benefits from good communication.
With the law of non-contradiction firmly in mind, I ask, who makes better sense, someone who believes that objective truth exists, or someone who redefines words as it suits their purposes?
Our culture has a problem with the redefinition of words. Francis Schaeffer identified the same problem over 50 years ago about what was then called "liberal theology."
One of the main ways false teachers go on deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim 3:13) is through the redefinition of words. This is not only true of words like "salvation" and "justification," but even the word "Jesus." Schaeffer observed:
“in the new theology, use is made of certain religious words which have a connotation of personality and meaning to those who hear them. Real communication is not in fact established, but an illusion of communication is given by employing words rich in connotations.”
And although true communication is absent, the motivation is nonetheless powerful:
“because the phrase Jesus Christ has been separated from true history and the content of Scripture, it can be used to trigger religiously motivated sociological actions directly contrary to the teachings of Christ.”
Because the meanings of religious words have been redefined, we now have generations of people who believe, for example, that salvation does not concern peace with the holy, eternal God who created all things, from whom you have been separated by your sin. Instead, salvation is variously conceived as inner peace, finding your true self, your inner cheetah, enlightenment, the "god" within you, and many other possible meanings - because ultimately it's about you - you get to define what words mean, you define what is right, and so on.
What about the word "oppression"? If through the redefinition of words, we define social justice without its theological roots, the inevitable result is a divided, broken, and warring people. If we are all just different groups oppressing each other, we are not created equal; we are divided by definition - and there is nothing left to unite us.
On the other hand, the concept of biblical justice is rooted in the only sufficient reason for any people to be united. The Jewish Old Testament people were to "be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44,45). They were to "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17). Why? Because God is just, and God's people are to be like Him. Social justice can only be right when it is biblical justice. The solution to injustice works only from the inside-out. It is the result of minds and hearts that have been changed to think differently and to cultivate holy affections. When these are right, actions that promote justice naturally follow. But when government tries to impose justice from the outside in, hearts do not change. Government is not the answer.
But Christians should be united! Our identity is in Christ, and we are united by our salvation in Christ: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). God sees us as one in Christ, and this is what we are, so we should live like it. But while we are still living on earth, because we must contend with the world, the flesh and the devil, our unity is imperfect.
One day, God's people will be united, never to be divided again:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:9-10)
But let's return to the interview. The conversation between Lisa and Alisa shows the consequences of redefining words. Religious words have emotional impact, but in conversation the speaker may have in mind something radically different from the hearer. Therefore, asking questions like, "What do you mean by that?" is often essential to enable genuine communication.
Alisa uses this to good advantage, perhaps especially in this interview:
Around 35:00 she asks Lisa what Jesus meant when He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). Lisa didn't have an answer. I suggest this is because the truth of Jesus' statement is so clear that it can't be denied, and Lisa wants to deny it.
Good questions can force people to confront their assumptions. It can force them to try (and sometimes fail) to explain what they mean. Sometimes if we're lucky, they may even discover they aren’t making sense.