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Answers to Questions with Philip Ryken


Reader: Where is the offense of the Cross in most evangelism to postmoderns? 

Ryken: The main offense of the Cross is always that the cross is needed at all. If Christ had to be crucified for my sins, then it must be the case that I am guilty before God of grievous sin. But this is one of the last things that postmoderns or any one of us hopes to admit. We would rather believe that we are good enough for God just the way we are. But the Cross declares that in order for us to have a relationship with God at all, the infinitely perfect Son of God had to give his very life for us.

If Christ had to be crucified for my sins, then it must be the case that I am guilty before God of grievous sin.

Postmoderns may also have another, more specific objection to the cross, however. It is characteristic of postmodern thought not to believe in absolute truth, but to believe instead that all truth is relative. Reality is whatever you believe reality to be. But the cross proclaims several absolute truths: it proclaims the objective reality of sin and guilt; it declares that God requires a blood atonement for sin; it confesses that the wages of sin is death. These are not relative truths, but absolute ones, and therefore they are offensive to anyone who regards the truth primarily as a matter of personal perspective


Reader: Do you think anyone has made strides in answering the perceived demise of foundationalism? 

Ryken: Many helpful books have been written about the foundations of truth and effective Christian apologetics for contemporary times. One of my favorites is James Sires’ helpful book The Universe Next Door. Also helpful is True Truth by Art Lindsey. For a wide-ranging explanation of how the Christian worldview contrasts with post-modernism and affects one’s thinking about every area of life, read Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. D.A. Carson offers a somewhat more technical analysis of post-modernism in his book on the emerging church: Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, and also in a much larger book called The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism.



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Category: Ministry, Spring 2008

About the Author: Philip Graham Ryken, Ph.D. (University of Oxford), is the eighth and current president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of more than 30 books, including The Message of Salvation (InterVarsity, 2001), Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts (P&R, 2006), Loving the Way Jesus Loves (Crossway, 2011), and expository commentaries on Exodus, Jeremiah, Luke, and other books of the Bible.

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