Reflecting on Colson's comments regarding Obama, abortion and postmodernism

Chuck Colson wrote on his breakpoint post yesterday (No God Condones What) that the breakdown of today’s society is based on postmodernism:


At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, President Obama seemed to signal that he has seen the light and is abandoning his radically pro-abortion agenda. At least, that’s the only reasonable conclusion one could make after hearing the President, who says he’s a Christian, also say: “There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.”


So I could only surmise that the President now concludes that “no God” would condone the 1.6 million abortions performed each year in America—1.6 million innocent lives destroyed.  But I’ve checked the White House website, and it’s very clear that God’s disapproval hasn’t changed the administration’s agenda one bit.


Here’s what the White House website says: “President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Administration.”


Well, in one way I’m glad I wasn’t at the breakfast this year—I was speaking instead at Moody—because I’m not sure I would have been able to stay in my seat.


How can a President of the United States say that “there is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being,” when he himself favors a woman’s right to have an abortion under virtually every circumstance? How can he say that, when, as an Illinois state senator, he voted against the Illinois Induced Infant Liability Act, which would have protected the lives of babies who survived late-term abortions? When he even had the audacity to describe the act as “One more burden on a woman . . . I can’t support.”


President Obama is a highly intelligent man with a huge job on his hands. I know what the White House is like, and I pray for him fervently every day. But how does such an intelligent man make a statement like this without understanding its implications for his own pro-abortion policies?


The only way to explain it is to understand the intellectual environment, called postmodernism, in which President Obama and his peers have been raised. Generations of Americans have now been taught that truth is subjective. You have your truth, I have mine. And, even worse, I can’t “inflict” my version of truth on you. The law of non-contradiction has been suspended.


So politicians can tell us over and over that they can’t allow their personal faith to affect their views on public policy. Or they can take two completely opposing positions at the same time: like believing that no God condones the taking of innocent life and at the same time, condoning—even promoting—the taking of an innocent life.


The problem isn’t simply President Obama and his views on life; the problem is a postmodern culture which believes that truth is merely a matter of opinion, and that therefore the sanctity of innocent human life is simply an expression of one viewpoint among many.


I have argued for the last 20 years that postmodernism would lead to the unraveling or our society. The fact that so few noticed the contradiction in what the President said and the policies he pursues tells me that we’re far along in the unraveling process.”



Now first, there is a lot I appreciate about Chuck Colson but it’s these statements that frustrate me because I do not find them to be fair.  Call it whatever you want, but the modern evangelical culture, or the infamous 1950’s or the “Good Ol’ Days” were not the days of the Garden of Eden. 

Second, I am not an Obama fan-boy (but I will support the president).  My convictions are pro-life but I do not want to villianize every person who either believes in pro-choice or has had an abortion.  And while I wish everyone would be pro-life, I think these typical statements made by Colson have failed as a starting point and only serve to rally like-minded individuals. At the same time, I wish those that are pro-choice but also hate abortion would at the very least, participate in pursuing ways to limit the number of abortions.  

Colson is a brilliant, well-educated righteous man.  I do not presume nor dare to correct such a godly man, but with all due respect, postmodernism is not the problem, the selfishness of the human condition is .. and this is not new. 

This is part of the problem with how we as conservative believers engage the world.  It seems to me that we refuse to actually engage the world.  It’s like we’re saying, “We’ll play basketball with you, but we’re not going to acknowledge this 3 point line thing, or this shot clock thing because we used to not have it and we liked the game better then.” 

Yes I know this analogy is not sensitive to the complexities of culture but if we are serious about engaging others, we need to do more then point the finger.  I’m not going to make it another four years if all I am getting from my conservative leaders is negative sound-bytes and pessimistic daily readings.   

My input is that we need to get realistic of how “good” days of old were.  Second, then, we should forget about them (because they are not a standard of entitlement).  Third, engage the culture we are in Christ-like ways.  Fourth, learn to handle the disappointments in Christ-like ways (I could use some extra grace on this one) and lastly, be believers who are committed in pursuing the Kingdom over personal preference or agenda.

Reviewing Metavista: Bible, Church, and Mission in an Age of Imagination

Metavista: Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination by Colin Greene & Martin Roinson

Who Will Like This Book (or might not) – Those that want to see church, culture and history from further out.  Whether you feel you are educated enough in it or not, if you have a high appreciation for history, you will really appreciate it.  If you are not into the emerging church authors (like McLaren, Jones, Pagitt, Keel, etc.), I think it would be beneficial to hear these words from those that do not identify with the movement.  If you are a friend of emergent, I think this book is very beneficial as well.  Having been in the emerging discussion, this is among the things that are humbly encouraged, read a lot of other stuff  (emergent plug – none of us feel we’ve cornered the market on pomo thought).

Who Won’t (or might not) – Those who have less appreciation for context and require Biblical proof texting; those who don’t understand where the history of philosophy fits in; those who think that the timeline of Christian literature went from the canonization of the New Testament, a few church fathers, Calvin, then John Piper while ignoring the millions of other voices throughout the past several thousand years  (I write that last one to a specific caricature, don’t mean to offend).

What I Found Difficult – I really enjoyed reading this book and I didn’t see skimming as an option.  Because of this, there’s a lot to read here.  Perhaps it was my attention span but I really wanted to remember what I read (what a new idea), so it was just one of these books where you really needed to take the necessary time and read.  Thus, you may not like it, if you’re not able to commit the time to it. 


What I Loved –  I was a fan from the introduction.  Seriously, it’s one of those books that if you love the introduction, you’ll probably like the book.  I didn’t feel let down as I continued reading the book though it was grappling with extremely difficult topics.


While reading through it, I appreciated all the quotes from those like Augustine, Kierkegaard, Brueggemann, Newbigin, Caputo, (even Bono is quoted), and many others.  I felt it connected me to the thoughts and ideas of so many others.  For those like myself who have a scattered interest in a lot of things, I appreciate books that contain histories and summations from the greats that have come before.


There are so many books to read, so many to recommend, I’d like to sell you on this one. 

Here’s a preview and table of contents:

What is metavista? – “… a relatively unclaimed space or clearing” (xxix).



1. Modernity: Legacies that Remain

2. Postmodernity: A Matrix of Meanings – This chapter begins, “In his book Postmodernism for Beginners” Richard Appignanesi suggests that the postmodern is something unavoidable.  His candid assessment is that the modern is always historically at war with what comes immediately before it” (25).

(Why I like it –  As been told to me countless times, I too keep trying to convince people that the idea of postmodernism is more than a philosophy but an age, specifically a response to modernism.)

3. Metavista: Discerning the Rules of Engagement – deals with many issues from voice, representation to power.

4. Metavista: Naming the Post-modern Condition – consumerism, post-colonialism, secularization, individualism (to name a few).


Part 2

5. Cultural Engagement and the Refiguring of the Scriptures – narratives and indwelling

6. Constructing a Biblical Theology for Cultural Engagement – demonstrates that postmoderns can be Christians ;-)

7. Metavista:  The Political Capital of the Bible in Cultural Engagement – umm, well, Greene likes Hauerwas.   Though this book is written from a European perspective, I think this chapter is helpful for American readers (especially Christian conservatives) interested in politics and culture.


Part 3

8. Deconstructing the Secular Imagination – the strength and weakness of secularization and its effect on religion

9. Imagining the Missional Community – Includes some big topics of the Modern West’s Christendom such as evangelical renewal, programmatic responses, emergent church, and offers humble conclusions.

10. Reimagining a Counter-cultural Life – one of my favorite chapters in the book.

11. Towards a Hermeneutic of Imagination – public theology, missional imagination and the pride of Biblical Seminary, John Franke is quoted here.

12. Conclusion and Beyond – calls for a new manifesto