The abandonment of religion has removed what once stood as root principles and convictions, supplanted by postmodernist thinking where opinions are subjective and have become the placeholder for an ever-elusive truth.
In an article titled “Discussing Politics When Opinion is the New Religion,” Dustin Messer of Breakpoint Colson Center gives a prime illustration that helps to understand how religious faith and truth itself has moved to the opposite end of the spectrum, displaced by opinion.
Messer uses the example of a tree and its parts to show us where our opinions where once derived from the roots of faith and how, now, opinions are now the root and faith is but a delicate leaf.
“You see, traditionally our faith gives us principles, those principles give us convictions, and it’s from those convictions that we derive our opinions,” Messer writes.
“Picture a tree,” Messer explains. “Our faith is the deep root structure, our principles are the tree’s trunk, our convictions are branches, and our opinions are twigs. The twigs aren’t irrelevant to the roots, to be sure, but neither is it the case that the roots are contingent upon the twigs.”
“Our opinions now have the onerous task of serving as roots while our faith has become a mere twig,” Messer adds. “To confront a person’s opinions in such a culture is to challenge their core identity. You aren’t plucking a leaf when you show that person that they’re wrong, you’re uprooting their whole being.”
In the article, Messer makes the point that personal opinion is now held in such high esteem and conviction by individuals, that opinion has become the equivalent to the convictions of religious faith.
Opinion has now risen to the level of religious zealotry. It’s easy to see how such a belief system can be extremely dangerous. Because of this, Messer warns us to use caution in all discussions, particularly politics.
We are already witnessing the results of such zealotry. Social justice warriors have created an atmosphere of cancel culture that is not unlike witch hunts and burning people at the stake in spirit. These things are simply done by different means today, but the outcome is the same. Lives are ruined, careers are lost or damaged, and people are ostracized.
Postmodernism has had a profound effect on our current culture. In simple terms, it views the truth as subjective. Therefore, each individual’s version of the truth is a matter of perspective and granted equal weight.
Something now becomes true if that’s how an individual or a group of individuals perceive it. If someone believes something it is true, it is true for them and therefore truth. If someone feels offended, then something is offensive simply because that person interprets it that way.
Psychologist Jordan Peterson has defined postmodernism, as it affects our culture presently, as: “Essentially the claim that (A) since there are an innumerable number of ways in which the world can be interpreted and perceived (and those are tightly associated); then, (B) No canonical manner of interpretation can be reliably derived.”
Pastor John McArthur recently wrote an opinion piece titled “Losing Our Religion” in which he discussed the effect postmodernism is having on society. MacArthur points out that postmodernism has gained a foothold because America has lost its religious convictions.
“In case you hadn’t realized it, that kind of thinking now dominates our society,” MacArthur explained. “The concept of settled, knowable truth is widely considered intellectually inept and politically incorrect. There’s “my truth” and “your truth,” meaning everything is ultimately just a matter of perspective.”
“Most people in these postmodern times are convinced that it’s impossible to know anything with settled certainty — so they can’t really believe anything, either,” MacArthur wrote. “Begin with the assumption that nothing can be known for sure, and religious convictions are automatically out of the question.”