The 1960s Revolution and Postmodernism
- A revolution is a successful rebellion. The rebellion of the 1960s brought
radical changes that are now accepted in mainstream western culture.
Perhaps the most radical was the 60s revolution rejection of the concept of
moral absolutes and the embrace of moral relativism. The concept of moral
absolutes is the claim that there are morals that apply to all people at all
times across all cultures. Moral relativism is the claim that each culture can
invent its own morals and no morals have transcultural authority.
There is a saying in real estate that the most important thing about a
property is "location, location, location!" In terms of morals, I say that the
most important thing about morals is "absolute, absolute, absolute!" If
morals are not absolute, that is if they don't apply with real authority to
all people at all times, then they really aren't morals at all. Morals that
are not absolute are merely preferences or suggestions.
The societal convulsions of the 1960s have their roots in the Beat
movement of the 1950s. Members of the Beat generation such as Jack Kerouac,
William Burroughs and Alan Ginsburg were highly introspective, pondering,
philosophical souls who were alienated from the mainstream, materialistic 1950s.
"Beat" is a highly ironic, self-deprecating term applied to the movement by
its own members. They claimed to be "beaten down" and seemed to embrace
economic failure and rejection of materialism.
The Beats hitchhiked around the country and bummed free food and lodging
yet also settled in and wrote deeply philosophical and iconoclastic novels
and plays. The suffix "nik" was added by a newspaper reporter to make
"Beatnik." The Beats rejected that label because it sounded communist Russian.
They were leftist but not communist.
The beats adopted a lexicon of new expressions such as "groovy," "hip" and
"cool, man, cool!" The young Beats were called "hipsters" and eventually,
the young ones of the 1960s were called "hippies." Beat literature, which
was plentiful, especially from the pens of Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsburg,
began to be accepted and read by the university elite. Many college
professors were, by the 1960s, alienated from materialistic, conformity oriented
mainstream culture. This set the stage for a groundswell movement for social
change that was to become the 60s revolution.
The 1950s American culture was essentially the epitome of modernist
culture. The US was astride the world and a superpower in industrial and military
might. With this stability, freedom and wealth, who would ever, in their
right mind, rebel against America at its zenith?
But they did rebel. They rebelled against the superficially Christian USA.
America by that time was really a secular modernist culture with some
Christian symbols. The 60s revolution took the US from modern to postmodern. Of
course, postmodernism was around long before the 1960s but it started to
become mainstream in the 60s.
The three major philosophical systems of contemporary western civilization
can be classified as the Christian, the modern and the postmodern.
The Christian view of the source of moral absolutes is that morals are
given to us by God by revelation and are written in the Bible. Biblical morals
include the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus, the sacredness of
human life and the dignity of man. God's commandments apply to all people at
all times in all cultures.
The modernist view is that moral absolutes can be discovered by human
reason alone without the aid of divine revelation. Modernism, since it arose in
post-renaissance Europe, is nevertheless influenced by Christian concepts
of justice and morality. Modernism is also dependant on Natural Law as a
starting point for its reasoning. For instance, modernists rejected
homosexuality on natural law principles because in nature, two people of the same
sex cannot produce offspring.
Modernism is rational, empirical (dependant on what the senses can
perceive), idealistic, optimistic, believes in the perfectibility of man and is
what I call "Christian flavored." By "Christian flavored" I mean that
modernism borrowed most of its moral concepts from Christianity. All of the
founders of modernism from Descartes to Hume were raised in Christian homes in
Christian societies and were taught at an early age to think Christianly.
Even the Enlightenment philosophers of eighteenth century France championed
Christian concepts of egalitarianism and social justice. They were proud
secularists, yet they thought in Christian categories. Modernists generally
believe in the existence of moral absolutes.
The postmodernist view is that no moral absolutes exist. Morals are simply
made up by the will of each person. This is radical existentialism and
Postmodernism is irrational, emotional, sophistic, barbaric, pessimistic,
existentialistic, radically individualistic and is what I call "occult
flavored." Postmodernism is so scattered and atomized that most commentators
define it only in terms of linguistic analysis and deconstructionism but
those are only the putrid eruptions of the postmodern sore. Once a person
embraces moral relativism, there is no real search for truth. Linguistic
analysis and deconstructionism are merely ways of tinkering with language and
literature which are just the tools of knowledge, not knowledge itself.
The founders of postmodernism, though raised in Christian homes, made a
sharp disconnect from Christianity. Most notable among them was Friedrich
Nietzsche (1844-1900) who's writings contain instances of open blasphemy. I
have often said that postmodernism, because of its denial of absolute
morality, is simply a return to the premodern and prechristian brutality of pagan
Europe which had shifting moral standards.
Postmodernism by its very prefix, "post" indicates that it comes after
modernism. Western man has exhausted modernism and now seeks to move on into
the new thing, the postmodern. Moral relativism, in which everyone makes up
their own moral standards, became intellectually chic. "Do your own thing"
became a definitive slogan of the 60s. "Perform random acts of kindness"
was popular in the 1990s.
The 60s revolution was actually three revolutions. It was a sexual
revolution in which Christian and even modern views of sexual chastity were
overthrown. It was an economic revolution in which socialism and wealth
redistribution were promoted and traditional free enterprise rejected. It was also a
civil rights revolution in which the racial prejudice of 1950s America
was, in legal terms (Jim Crow laws, etc.), overthrown. At least the civil
rights revolution was a good thing.
The 60s revolution was worldwide. Europe and Japan also saw hippie type
movements. The hippies formed communes all over the US. It was estimated that
there were over 3,000 communes in California alone though most of them
were one house communes. The girls were "community property" and the guys
could fornicate with them at will. The hippies were surprisingly male
chauvinistic and the "chicks" were obliged to perform traditional domestic duties.
It's been said that feminism killed the commune movement. Women eventually
wouldn't stand for their subservient status.
Another counter to the counterculture was the Jesus Movement in which
thousands of hippies and runaways and young people of all backgrounds began to
embrace theologically conservative Christianity. The "Jesus People"
traveled around the country and many settled down to form Christian communities.
These weren't communes but were more like cooperatives in which many
families lived on the same piece of land but had separate private dwellings.
By the 1970s and 80s the ideals of the 60s revolution became mainstream.
The rejection of moral absolutes, the embrace of fornication, the acceptance
of abortion, the promotion of the gay agenda radically transformed
America. Fornication brought single motherhood and the severing of the bond
between father and child.
Today, the US is a caricature of its former self and is postmodern in most
of its education and culture. Morals are mere suggestions. Political
Correctness is the new ethical standard and that standard itself is subject to
constant change. Moral relativism is impractical because in it the moral
standards of Mother Theresa are technically no more valuable than the moral
standards of Adolph Hitler. Without a moral absolute, there really is no way
to measure right and wrong.
God's standards do not change. God gave us moral absolutes by revelation.
The mass murder of the unborn by abortion is serious sin. The American
postmodern culture has accepted many practices that God abhors. All humankind is
accountable to God and will be judged by God in the afterlife.
The Bible contains God's commandments but in addition to that, it contains
more than 3,000 predictive prophecies. Christian scholar Josh McDowell
wrote a book titled, "A Ready Defense" that shows how these many biblical
prophecies have been fulfilled or are being fulfilled down through history and
in our own time. No other holy book of any other faith has anything that
even approaches the Bible's record of prophecy and fulfillment of prophecy.
The prophecies and their fulfillments prove that the Bible is inspired by
Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel, came in fulfillment of over
300 Bible prophecies that were written in the Old Testament hundreds of
years before His birth. No other figure in all of world history; no king, no
emperor, no pharaoh, no scholar, no philosopher can make this claim!
When Jesus suffered and died He took upon Himself the penalty that was due
to us because of our sins. He died in our place. In His resurrection He
conquered death. It is through Christ that we receive forgiveness of sins
because Christ paid the price that redeemed us. Turn to Christ today to
receive forgiveness of sins!
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said "Ye must be born again." (John 3:7)
1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah
(Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
2) Believe that Jesus the Messiah came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible
prophecies to die for you and take upon Himself the penalty of your sins.
(Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18)
3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness.
4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth. (John 1:12, Acts
5) Follow Him as Lord. (John 14:21)
Prayer to receive salvation:
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for you at the terrible cost
of His suffering and death on your behalf I invite you to pray this simple
prayer: "Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised
Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my
sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me
to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen."
If you prayed that prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you
have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this
life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!
Bill Nugent, Overcomer Ministries
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