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The Ghost Of Alexander Severus: Third Century Religious Pluralism as a Foretaste of Postmodernity, by Woodrow E. Walton

Instead of explaining evil, Christianity unabashedly faces it at the Cross of Christ. Christianity accounts for man’s salvation through the Cross of Christ. In dealing with documentary, textual, and historical matters, as important as they are, we often miss the inerrant, infallible Word that defines our creation, our sin, and our salvation in Christ Jesus.

We can face down the postmodernist through a tactical reversal. It is claimed by the postmodern pluralist that all truth is relative. We might well ask in return, “Relative to what?” and push that even further to the point of Romans 3:4 “Indeed let God be true but every man a liar.” On our terms, all truth is relative. We, as people, speak out of our own experience. But “relative to what?” reminds the relativist that he has to have an absolute in order to make the claim that all truth is relative. The postmodernist says that truth cannot be discovered and that is right but something is left out in that statement. Truth discovers it. We cannot find truth; truth finds us. In the Greek culture, aletheia, the word for truth, is associated with nakedness. The etymology of the word suggests “the unhidden” or “the uncovered.” The artist Botticelli represented truth as nude in his painting “Calumny.” Philosophy historian Anthony Kenny, in his 2001 reissued Oxford Illustrated History of Western Philosophy, uses the painting as an illustration within that edition under the caption “Naked Truth.”12 Hebrews 4:13 in the NKJV reads, “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” To claim that all truth is relative is in and of itself a duplicitous statement that seeks to hide its protagonist from accountability. We can never uncover truth; truth uncovers us. This is the reverse of the standard argument.

Christianity understands that it is man that is lost, not God.

In a sense we do not live in a true pluralistic society but within a “pluralism grounded in and tainted by our deep-rooted relativism.”13

Richard Rorty, an American postmodernist, let slip in an essay entitled “Trotsky and the Wild Orchards” included in the book Wild Orchards and Trotsky: Messages from American Universities an admission that a world without God is one having no basis for universal truth or justice.14 With a stroke of the pen, Rorty unwittingly destroyed his own position.

A reverse apologetic can be used with respect to the other religions. Hinduism is based upon a sense of futility within a cyclical universe requiring a concept of reincarnation. The Resurrection refutes that as the Resurrection shows the way out.

Practically all religions are geared to make the believer feel good. But Christianity is disturbing because it requires us to come to terms with our sin and experience forgiveness that we may fully know the love of God.

Christianity is based upon forgiveness of one’s sins. Islam has none of this. A British missionary for fifty-two years in Pakistan told this presenter and several other men of a 20-Year old Pakistani who accepted Christ only to be shot dead by his own father. It is interesting to note that there are ninety some names for Allah; not one of them is love. There is a “subtle attraction to Buddhism” admits Ravi Zacharias, “the sense of being in control and fully insulated from the world of care.”15 It is a withdrawal from life, from loving and from caring and not wanting to be hurt, a quashing of all desire. “If you do not desire, you can never lose” is Zacharias’ summation16 of Buddhism. It also shuts out love and denies personality and personal identity.

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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Winter 2013

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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