Trap 2: Modernism
June 10th 2017
The second trap within our list of four is Modernism. Modernism examines historical incidents as if they had occurred today, and historical persons as if they lived today, rather than in the past. Modernism separates history from its context and setting. Modernism’s effect upon a worldview is summed up in the statement, “the way it is is the way it always has been.”
Let’s look at an example from Christendom - the United Methodist Church (UMC). The UMC is one of the more socially-liberal denominations in the West today. Their acceptance of gay marriage, abortion, female elders, and such, is well documented. The UMC was founded by George Whitefield and John & Charles Wesley – big names in Church history.
Does this prove that Whitefield and Wesley were pro-gay and pro-abortion since they founded the Methodist church? No, it doesn’t. The point is that over time, definitions change, stances change, teachings change. 90+% of Methodists churches would probably not let Whitefield or Wesley preach from the pulpit within a Methodist church today. Things that have the same name change over time and modernism looks at those things and says they have always been that way.
A second example would include the Quakers and William Penn. William Penn would not be a Quaker today, if he were alive. This is because that denomination has moved so far left of Biblical positions that he would not recognize it.
A third example would be the Unitarian Universalist Church. Many state that the founding fathers of this church could not have been Christians because they claimed to be from the Unitarian Universalist Church. Those that claim that do not understand what happened in 1789, 1819, and 1839. In 1839, this church moved its position to one of ‘universalism’ (all roads lead to heaven, believe anything you want, Jesus is not divine). But the truth is that before 1789, you could read this church’s writings and you would not be able to tell it from a Baptist church of that day.
A fourth and final example comes from language in general. The founding fathers’ use of terms such as “Providence” and “Nature’s Law” proves to many that they were Deists. The argument is that Christians would have put the name “Jesus Christ” in the Constitution if they were true Christians. The Geneva Bible, the bible of the founding fathers, proves that this is modernism in action. The Geneva Bible uses the term “providence” over 100 times. Modern translations use it less than 10 times. The point is that the way the founding fathers spoke in the 18th-century is not the way we speak today.
So with those four examples provided, the Christian is left to ask the question, “how do I avoid this trap in my everyday life?” What is the solution to avoiding this trap? Well, just like our previous post, the following is a list of Christian worldview positions, provided without elaboration, that I submit for your consideration and further exploration:
- "Call to remembrance the former days..." (Hebrews 10:32)
- Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. (Deuteronomy 32:7)
- I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Psalm 143:5)
- Know your history!
- Go to original documents and writings of the time period in question for your historical sources.