Sir Arthur Toynbee is one of the first scholars to use the word ‘postmodernism” as part of a historical investigation into the fall of civilizations such as Rome, imperial China, Babylon and the Aztecs. He studied 21 world civilizations in all. He found that civilizations in disintegration suffer from what he called “a schism of the soul”. They were seldom destroyed by other civilizations. They committed cultural suicide according to Gene Veith, Jr. in his book Postmodern Times.
Toynbee says that disintegrating societies have several characteristics. I will list these so that you can contemplate their warning for us today.
Sense of abandon= people stop believing in morality and yield to impulses at the expense of creativity.
They succumb to truancy= they seek escapism by retreating to their own worlds of distraction and entertainment.
There is a sense of drift= yields to meaningless determinism as if they have no control over their lives and as if nothing they do matters.
There is a sense of guilt= self loathing as a result of moral abandon.
There is promiscuity=indiscriminate acceptance of anything; uncritical tolerance; self surrender; reckless abandon
WOW! Doesn’t this describe our society today?
Some look at our world today and see what they think is progress. We are becoming more tolerant and accepting of our differences. But is that progress if the outcome is a world that has lost the meaning of sin and truth? Shall we sacrifice truth on the altar of relativism simply because we want everyone to be right? When we lose our sense of God’s grand narrative because the cry of our society is to chart its own course and discover its own path, what will the outcome be? What is life if it is lived in the nihilistic vision of postmodernism? Do we really think we are here simply to live without a designed purpose and meaning? Chaos is what describes postmodernism. It is the shout of fallen man attempting to be what he cannot be-GOD. It was that very sin that propelled us into the condition we are in today.There truly is nothing new under the sun. It is all variations on a theme and the outcome is always the same- alienation.
We need to pay attention to history. Ideas have consequences. We need to return to the One who has set the boundaries of our existence. We need to return to the Lawgiver. We need to return to the Creator, Redeemer, and yes, Judge. Man cannot be God no matter how much he desires to be.