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Adapted from Postmodern Times by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.:

Despite never-ending assertions of originality, Christians know “there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). Unbelief and sin have always been with us. The ancient pagans were relativistic similar to our own nation and God’s peo­ple have always been tempted to compromise their faith by selling out to the dominant culture. The Bible addresses these issues of the postmodern-postchristian age with astounding clarity.


The shift from modernism to postmodernism to postchristian is a version of an ancient failure and an ancient curse. At one time, “the whole world had one language and a common speech” (Genesis 11:1). Delighted with their unity, their common understanding, and their technological ability, people said, ‘”Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves'” (11:4).


The culture that built the Tower of Babel parallels our mod­ern age. Confident in their human abilities, their reason and scien­tific knowledge, the postmoderns have no need for God. To make a name for themselves, they not only built cities, they engineered new social and economic orders, such as socialism. Their technology, more advanced than the Babelites’, enabled them to build not just a tower to reach the heavens, but spaceships to reach the moon. Moreover they can transgender.


God judged the pretensions of Babel. Noting their genuine accomplishments and the vast potential of human achievement, the Lord saw that a united, technologically sophisticated human race would be nearly unlimited in their capacity for evil. “If as one peo­ple speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (11:6). God mercifully thwarted this primitive but dangerous beginning (what “they have begun to do”). He shattered their self-deification and brought their famous tower to ruin.


In our own time, it has become clear that reason, science, and technology have not solved all of our problems. Poverty, crime, and despair defy our attempts at social engineering. The most thor­oughgoing attempt to restructure society according to a rationalis­tic, materialist theory—communism—fell to pieces. Technology continues to progress at breakneck speed, but, far from reaching the heavens, it sometimes diminishes our lives.


God punished Babel by undermining the faculty that made possible their success—their language. The human race splintered into mutually inaccessible groups.

“Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scat­tered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:7-9)

This is exactly what has happened with the fall of modernism. The monolithic sensibility of modernism, which seemed to have an unlimited potential, has fragmented into diverse and competing communities. People can no longer understand each other. There are no common reference points, no common language. Totalitarian unity has given way to chaotic diversity. Scattered in small groups of like-minded people, those who speak the same lan­guage, human beings today are confused.


God’s people can only agree with the judgment on the Tower and the curse of Babel. They will likewise agree that modernism is idolatrous and will rejoice in its fall. The curse of Babel, while appropriate, was a punishment for sin. When Christ atoned for the sins of His elect people, the curse for sin was removed. When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church, the curse of Babel was undone.


When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native lan­guage? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:1-12)

What it means, among other things, is that the gospel is for the whole human race in all of its diversity, that through the Word preached by the apostles the Holy Spirit communicates faith to peo­ple of every language and culture. Far from being some unintelli­gible utterance, the tongues of Pentecost were uniquely intelligible—to everyone, no matter what their native language. The restoration of language was a sign of the Kingdom of God.



On Pentecost the Holy Spirit began gathering the Church from all nations (Acts 2:41). This Church was a different kind of community, neither unified in an autonomous humanism like the Tower-builders and the modernists, nor fractured into alien groups like the Babelites and the postmodernists. Rather, the Church is a balance of both unity and diversity, a single Body consisting of organs as different from each other as a foot and an eye (1 Corinthians 12), but unified in love for each other and faith in Jesus Christ.


Because of this larger perspective, God’s people will hopefully see the futility of both the building of the Tower and the cacophony of voices that followed its abandonment. They will likewise recognize the errors of both the modernists and the postmodernists.














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