“It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” Those infamous words, uttered by Bill Clinton under oath in 1998, should have told us that the world and everything in it was already succumbing to the deconstructive forces of postmodernism. Postmodernism claims that meaning is no longer found in what a human author intends or what the Author of life declares. Rather, meaning is decided by individuals or groups interpreting, or in most cases reinterpreting, the words others.
In college after college, postmodern ideas have sprung to life since the 1960s, and by 1998 such epistemic redefinitions and verbal deconstructions were emerging in the public square. Bill Clinton’s elusive response to a question about his relations with Monica Lewinsky was not abnormal for a culture celebrating transgression (think: the Hippies of the 1960s), raised on MTV (think: the teens of the 1980s), or enslaved to self-expression instead of submission to the truth (every generation since WWII).
Fast forward 25 years, add two decades of social media, a handful of contested elections, one global pandemic, and endless woke crusades in public schools and city streets, and it is not just language that has come under assault, it is everything that God upholds by the word of his power. To be certain, Christ the Lord reigns in heaven. But on earth, all is not well. And in our day, our cultural elites can’t even figure out what a man is, why women’s sports should only include women, or why children should not be exposed to drag queens at the public library.
In a word, the world has gone mad. And its insanity began when words could mean anything, or nothing, or something at one time and not another.Many have rightly claimed that those who define the terms, decide the turf. And this means that in our day, we are at war for the dictionary. As Adam was charged to name the animals, so we are watching Adam’s heirs renaming everything. Only instead of naming the world as it is, the god of this world has convinced the masses to try to remake the world in our own image. And then to tweet about! Instead of receiving God’s world as it is and giving thanks for what we have, (post)moderns are trying to create new worlds based on every whim of fancy. And proudly, old fashion pronouns can’t get in the way. “This is our world,” they chant with blue hair and bluer souls.
As Christians, called to salvation and commissioned to bring the light of the gospel to all nations, we cannot sit back and watch. Instead, we must take up our Bibles and hack to pieces the lies that are destroying our neighbors and sending people to hell. We must learn afresh what Scripture means when it says, God made us in his image and he made us male and female. We must learn what this world is, what humans are, why it matters, and what God plans—has planned for eternity—to do about it.
To this end, I will spend the next 7 weeks looking at the dictionary. And that means, I will be opening the Bible to define some terms. Instead of just looking at the Bible to see what works (pragmatism). I will be looking at the Bible to see what is (ontology). Ontology is the “study of being,” and in May and June, it will be my task to preach something about what the I AM has said about what is.
Thus, beginning this Sunday, I will begin with one single verse—Genesis 1:1. This verse is arguably the most decisive verse in the Bible. And so I will begin a new sermon series called Ontology: The Business of Is-Ness, where I will look at a handful of passages to answer a few questions.
- What is God?
- What is the cosmos?
- What is humanity?
- What is male and female?
- What is the family?
- What is a nation?
- What is a church?
If those sound like important questions (N.B. They are!), then join us for this series. I will aim to put up some resources on these questions and sermons over the next few weeks. Until then, don’t forget, “is” does have a definition. And it begins with the one who was, and is, and forever will be. He is the I AM and he is source of all being.
To God be the glory, the Word who never changes and who defines all that is—both now and forever!
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
3 thoughts on “Ontology 101: A New Sermon Series”
WHAT is God? You’re going to try to ANSWER that question? In words? In a SERMON?
I refer you to Proverbs 16:18.
Orthodox Protestants have humbly submitted themselves to the teaching of Scripture on this question for centuries. Consider the WSC Q.4. “What is God?”
It’s only prideful if we claim to know God apart from his written revelation. It’s equally prideful to deny the Word that declares ‘who he is’ and ‘what he is.’
Humility is found in believing what God says about himself and then preaching that truth with dependence on the Holy Spirit.
May we all be so humble as to say what God has said about himself—nothing more, nothing less.
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit [a], infinite [b], eternal [c], and unchangeable [d] in his being [e], wisdom [f], power [g], holiness [h], justice [i], goodness [j], and truth [k].
[a]. Deut. 4:15-19; Luke 24:39; John 1:18; 4:24; Acts 17:29
[b]. 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 139:7-10; 145:3; 147:5; Jer. 23:24; Rom.
[c]. Deut. 33:27; Ps. 90:2; 102:12, 24-27; Rev. 1:4,8
[d]. Ps. 33:11; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 1:12; 6:17-18; 13:8; Jas. 1:17
[e]. Ex. 3:14; Ps. 115:2-3; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15-16
[f]. Ps. 104:24; Rom. 11:33-34; Heb. 4:13; 1 John 3:20
[g]. Gen. 17:1; Ps. 62:11; Jer. 32:17; Mat. 19:26; Rev. 1:8
[h]. Heb. 1:13; I Pet. 1:15-16; 1 John 3:3, 5; Rev. 15:4
[i]. Gen. 18:25; Ex. 34:6-7; Deut. 32:4; Ps. 96:13; Rom. 3:5, 26
[j]. Ps. 103:5; 107:8; Matt. 19:17; Rom. 2:4
[k]. Ex. 34:6; Deut. 32:4; Ps. 86:15; 117:2; Heb. 6:18
Oh, well, that solves that ontological mystery then. Thanks.
Comments are closed.