The Good Thing About Postmodernism

classic-car junk

Truth is what you make it, right? Well, that’s what many people with a postmodern worldview would say. Christians look at the kind of statements and beliefs that come out of postmodern thought, and justifiably condemn it. If words and thoughts have no center of meaning, and everyone’s interpretation is as good as another’s, then how can we even communicate? More importantly, how can we live righteous lives if the definition of right and wrong differs from one person to the next?

So, yes, postmodernism as it’s defined in our society is a threat to the Truth of scripture. However, virtually every view or philosophy has some truth to it, and when rehabilitated, can help Christians mature and bring others to Christ. This is what Paul did in Athens (Acts 17:22-31).

Just imagine that every non-biblical worldview is a broken-down, rusty classic car. Because the car’s been abused and neglected, it’s missing some parts and it can’t take you anywhere, plus it’s not pretty to look at. But with some thought and effort, some new parts and some refurbishing, the car can be restored and bring great satisfaction.

As Christians, personal restoration is something we’ve committed our lives to, but we don’t often think about restoring systems of thought or worldviews, but they can be salvaged and made whole again. Postmodernism falls into this category. Is it missing key parts? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it should be discarded. It has something of value to add when restored through the biblical worldview.

I’m not going to try to “restore” the postmodern worldview in one short article, but I would like to illustrate some salvageable pieces that will be helpful for Christians to acquire in their thinking. Of course, the main “part” that postmodernism is missing is God, the engine that drives all worldviews (pardon my comparison of God to a mechanism), but once he’s been included in his rightful place, there’s hope for the entire vehicle.

There are two things that Christians should appreciate about postmodern thought when modified to include God.

First, it injects a much needed dose of humility in our conclusions. I’ve heard Christians say for years that we need to make sure we don’t confuse our understanding of the truth with Truth itself; that we should always be willing to change our views when scripture reveals something different than what we thought. This approach to scripture is very postmodern. It’s a recognition that people will see things differently. We ought to be humble in our approach, believing that God has given us the Truth and that it’s understandable, but without assuming that we’ve acquired an understanding of the Truth in its fullness or perfection.

The Bereans demonstrated that they were humble enough not to assume their interpretation was the only possible correct understanding when “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11).

Secondly, postmodernism helps us appreciate that things can have multiple meanings. The “problem” with a mathematical or scientific approach to scripture is that it leaves us with the impression that there can only be one answer, one solution. While it’s true that not every interpretation of scripture is valid, that doesn’t mean that two or more meanings can’t come from the same passage. This is especially obvious when we look at the symbols God’s given to us.

For example, the cross may be a symbol of Christ’s humility (Phil. 2:8). It could also be seen as a symbol of his power (1 Cor. 1:18), or as a symbol of his love (1 John 3:16), or mercy (Rom. 5:8), or his condemnation of sin (Rom. 8:3), or as a reversal of the story of Adam and Eve, or a statement of faith in God, or hope, or love for our brethren. I’ll stop there, but I could go on. If someone emphasized only one of these aspects when speaking of the cross, would you say they were wrong? Of course not.

All of these views of the cross are correct at the same time. Furthermore, two of the meanings seem contradictory (mercy and condemnation of sin). But they’re still both true, and not all of these meanings need to be stated each time the cross is mentioned. It’s not even possible to do so.

This again is a very postmodern way of reading. When Christians reduce the scriptures to only one possible meaning, as if there’s a formula to bring us to the only possible truth, they often suppress the richness and depth God has infused into scripture. Postmodernism can help Christians explore God’s word and world more fully and deeply.

The problem with postmodernism, then, is not that it espouses the possibility of multiple views and interpretations, but that it does so without God. There are some difficulties that should be worked through when appropriating this type of thinking that I haven’t addressed in this article, but hopefully we can see some benefits and potential. As frustrating as it may be to think about the postmodern worldview, it’s actually a tool that can be refurbished and modified to the the glory of God!

A “Win” for Our Side?

I came across this article and video today: Gay people not ‘born that way,’ sexual orientation not fixed – US study

These are my reflections.

As I’ve mentioned before, science simply cannot answer certain questions. Using science as an ethical authority is a dead end. More experiments and follow-up experiments will not settle questions like the one in this article, because it’s a matter of applying the wrong tool to the issue and, as the man in the video says, “science is never settled.”

This is what happens when science becomes Scientism.

If anyone thinks scientific studies like this are going to stop the LGBT community in its tracks, then that person is pretty naïve. At the deepest level, it’s a matter of the heart, and humans will often use whatever authority we can to justify ourselves. If science doesn’t back us up, then we’ll ignore it or find another authority. Or, as the video briefly mentions, we’ll just go to some other study that supports our point, and claim that all other studies to the contrary are “junk science.”

Videos and articles like the ones above can often be seen as a “win” for Christianity, because it takes out the legs from under liberal arguments. Maybe in some small way it’s a win, but I think it would be better to take it as a warning.

Christians often get pumped up about how science has failed secular arguments, and then go right back to talking about all of the science that backs up the flood story! I sometimes cringe when I see fellow Christians gleefully proclaim how true the Bible is because of the science. I know that in many people it comes from a sincere place, wanting to believe and show others that the Bible is the Truth, but it’s simply not a biblical approach.

To be clear, I don’t cringe because I think science is opposed to Christianity. I cringe because it’s used as an authority. Creation certainly points to God (Rom. 1:20), but the people in the Bible never hang their hat on this type of evidence. The apostles used the miracles of Jesus, primarily the resurrection.

It’s a question of weight. Can Christians use creation to help others see God? Certainly. But that should be secondary, and I fear that it’s often primary.

When John writes “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31), he hasn’t just finished a scientific treatise. He’s written about the resurrection, miracles (“signs”) and life of Jesus. But I’m afraid that Christians often would like to slap John’s words onto the end of a lecture about the scientific evidence for the flood.

The same warning about science that applies to secular, liberal reasoning also applies to Christians. Don’t use Scientism to support your views of the Bible. Science isn’t equipped to prop up most biblical arguments any more than it’s equipped to support modern ethical arguments. If Christians misuse it that way, they shouldn’t be surprised when science comes back to bite them the same way it’s just bitten many in the LGBT community today.

Every Christian Should be an Artist

This undated image released by Copyright Bob Ross Inc./The Joy of Painting, shows the late Bob Ross, host of the PBS series "The Joy of Painting." PBS said Thursday it's posted a video remix with clips from "The Joy of Painting" instructional series, featuring the late Bob Ross. The "Happy Painter" remix is from John Boswell, who created the "Garden of Your Mind" video tribute to Fred Rogers. That mashup of clips from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" has been viewed nearly 6 million times on YouTube. "The Joy of Painting," still seen in repeats, aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994 with its bushy-haired, mellow-voiced host. Ross died in 1995. (AP Photo/Copyright Bob Ross Inc. ® The Joy of Painting)

What separates one artist from another? Why are some people able to look at what’s in front of them and replicate it on a canvas while others look at the same thing, but produce a child-like imitation? Well, practice and technique are heavily involved, but the first thing that separates a good artist from an amateur is their perception.

When we look at objects, we automatically associate them with a general shape. This is why when an amateur or a child is asked to draw a human face, the head and eyes are circles. We see their rounded shape and automatically produce the most familiar rounded shape we know – a circle. The first step in improving as an artist is to learn how to see more complex shapes in the scenery and people around us. As the artist practices, and trains his eyes, he learns how to draw the appropriate shape (see Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces).

Every skill or profession is an art developed through time and conscious effort. Even the things we think of as “natural,” only seem that way because we’ve practiced them for so long. And every skill starts with how we “see” our subject.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus’ disciples “saw” him as a great teacher and miracle worker, just like the rest of the Jews. But Jesus’ signs and teachings didn’t immediately lead to the disciples’ see Jesus as the Christ. It took time and several incidents before we get to Peter’s confession in Mark 8.

Just before that confession, however, there is a miracle that is only recorded in Mark’s gospel. A blind man is brought to Jesus, and Jesus spits on his eyes, lays his hands on him, and asks if he sees anything. Indeed, the man can now see, but his vision is blurry: “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around” (Mk. 8:24). So Jesus lays his hands on him again, and this time the man “began to see everything clearly” (v.25).

What is going on with this miracle? Was Jesus’ deity only “half-charged,” so that he couldn’t heal the man on the first attempt? All other miracles are instantaneous. Did Jesus mess up, or not hold his mouth right? Of course, Jesus could have given the man clear vision instantaneously, so the manner of healing must be intentional. Upon further reflection, we can see that this miracle is also a parable of sorts.

Again, up to this point in the gospel, the disciples have yet to “see” that Jesus is the Christ. Peter’s confession that follows means that now the disciples can see, but we quickly learn that their vision is fuzzy. Immediately after the confession, Peter is rebuked, because he denies that the Christ must suffer and die. Now that the disciples can see “fuzzily” that Jesus is the Christ, they must learn to see more clearly what that means (thanks to Tom Hamilton for this observation). Their view of the Christ was blurry, and it’s not until he dies and is resurrected that the disciples see precisely what Jesus was up to.

For Christians, God’s desire is for them to see the world as it truly is, not in generic shapes. To be wise is to learn how to make distinctions that the “amateur” person cannot make. The vision of the world without Christ in it is blurry and generic at best, blind at worst. It’s possible to affirm God’s existence through looking at creation (Rom. 1:19-20). It’s even possible to live a generally moral life – albeit not a sinless life – without being a Christian. But it’s not possible to see the world in its true shape without revelation from God.  The things we have a faint picture of in the world are made more definite and obvious when we see them through Christ.

This example of gaining sight in stages is not just something the first disciples had to undergo. It’s easy for us to look back in hindsight and criticize them for not understanding. If we were there, we would have grasped it much more quickly, right? Not so fast. The disciples’ gradually improved vision is a pattern for all disciples of Jesus. Even after our confession of Jesus as Christ at baptism we will spend the rest of our lives seeing more and more what that confession really means, just like the first disciples.

Since Christians look at the world through “Christ-colored glasses,” the more clearly they see Christ, the more clearly they see the world. The art that a Christian produces is the art of exalting human nature and the world through Christ. The better we’re able to see things in their true shape, the better beauty we can produce. God wants his people to go beyond seeing simple, fuzzy circles to seeing clear spheres and cubes and beyond.

Even though the brethren at Ephesus have seen enough to come to Christ, Paul doesn’t think their maturation is over. They still need to see things more clearly in order to reproduce the beauty of Christ in their lives. So he prays that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18).

God’s not interested in simply saving people from death for the sake of salvation. We are saved so that we can create something beautiful. Christians are the world’s greatest artists, working through God’s greatest medium – humanity. Of course, beauty and glory look much differently than what we’ve been trained to see. Beauty is a lowly Jew shamed on a cross (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34). So as Christians continue to create pictures of family, relationships and the world that follow God’s vision, it will look repulsive to worldly critics.

It seems that great artists and visionaries are rarely appreciated in their time. That’s true of Christians as well. Of course, Christians aren’t producing great pictures of humanity because they’re so smart, but because they’ve been blessed with vision from God, just like the blind man in Mark 8. Even the beauty they create will not be fully appreciated until Christ comes again, because as they create their little vignettes, God – THE Artist – is weaving them together for a picture “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

Holiness and Political Correctness


The word holiness is not common in vernacular outside of religion. But just because it’s not in our everyday speech doesn’t mean we don’t encounter it every day. Simply put, holy things are things that are not to be touched. Why?  Because they carry significant meaning and create the values that glue our society together. Holy things are sacred even if they’re not “religious.”

The laws of any society are not founded on pure reasoning as we may like to believe, but upon holiness. We create laws because they protect things that are sacred. Laws are boundaries that keep us from violating the sacred, not the strictly logical.

For instance, the U.S. Constitution says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The truths stated in the Constitution are “self-evident.” In other words, they need no logical proof. We don’t have to argue for these things, because they are fundamental and universal to all humans. This is a statement of holiness, not reason. Americans believe that all men are created equal and that our equality should not be touched, NOT because it’s rational, but because it’s sacred. Since the rights of humans are most sacred, and any violation of those rights defiles a person.

How do we deal with people who violate our holiness code? We mark them as “unclean” and kick them out of the camp. This is where “political correctness” comes in. If a person makes a statement that violates a “sacred cow,” that person must be kicked out, or they must apologize, but there must be atonement for what they’ve done in some way. Our next president will have to be “holy” enough by American standards of holiness to take the office.

It is impossible for a society NOT to have a holiness code. It’s built into our DNA as creatures made in the image of God. We may not like political correctness, but we all have things that we hold sacred within ourselves which we believe should never be violated. And if everyone has a code of holiness, that means everyone has a form of “political correctness” even if it’s not necessarily political. If your spouse knows how to “push your buttons,” it means they know what you hold sacred, and can violate that in order to get a rise from you.

Once we recognize that holiness codes are ubiquitous throughout time and culture, we’re in a better position to appreciate the holiness found in the Bible, and why it matters. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always found myself looking at holiness as a puzzling word that seems to have little relevance to my life. Yes, I know that God calls us to be holy, but that doesn’t seem to mean much more than saying that God wants me to be good. Why holiness? My goal is to learn and explore this idea in future posts.

For now I’ll leave with a passage that demonstrates why holiness matters. “But the saints (lit. “holy ones”) of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come” (Dan. 7:18).

Why Do the Firstborn in the Bible Always Fail?

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This post is a little longer than my other posts. I couldn’t figure out how to split it into two, so hopefully it’s worth a minute or two more your time.

A Pattern of Usurping

One theme of Genesis is very clear: the firstborn child, who is the natural heir of the family, consistently fails to receive their inheritance. Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve, yet he killed his brother and was cursed as a wanderer for the rest of his life. Instead Seth, whom the scriptures clearly state is Abel’s replacement (Gen. 4:25), is the one in whom Adam’s descendant’s are named (Gen. 5:4).

Abraham’s first son was not Isaac, but Ishmael. Granted, he was not the son of Abraham and Sarah, but he was the firstborn nevertheless. He loses his place in the family when Sarah drives him and his mother away for Ishmael’s mocking of Isaac (Gen. 21:9).

God tells Rebekah that Jacob, the younger of his twin Esau, will supplant Esau as the firstborn (Gen. 25:23), and indeed we see Jacob receive both the birthright and the blessing.

Jacob’s family is the last family in Genesis, and his eldest, Reuben, also fails to receive the inheritance of the firstborn (along with Simeon, Levi, and Judah). Joseph not only receives the special coat from his father, but also a double portion of the tribes (Ephraim, Manasseh).

Saul fails as the first king of the Israelites and David replaces him. Although they are not two sons of one man, it is a similar usurping of the first by the second.

The usurping of the firstborn by the second is too much of a theme to be coincidence. There may be multiple messages we can extract from this theme, but let’s just focus on one for this article. What message is God trying to get across with all of these stories of failed firstborn sons?

Two Adams, Two Bodies

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is addressing questions about the resurrection body will be like (v.35). In addressing this issue, he contrasts Adam and Jesus. The answer about what type of bodies we will have are understood through the nature of these “two Adams.” He writes, “So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor. 15:45-49).

Adam is, of course, the firstborn of all creation.  Chronologically, Adam preceded Jesus in living on the earth.  Both are sons of God, and neither were born through the seed of fleshly man. The entirety of mankind is firstborn from Adam. Everyone born from the union of a man and a woman are of Adam’s seed, and are “earthy.” Therefore, we have “earthy” bodies. And all who are born from Adam “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  It takes the “last Adam” (Jesus) to bring life. The second son usurps the first.

The “Earthy” Man

Going back to our Old Testament stories, we can now see what God was pointing to. The firstborn in these stories are usurped because they bear the image of the earthy. They let their physical lusts and desires control them. They are skilled in the ways of the earth both physically and spiritually.

Cain is a “tiller of the earth” (Gen. 4:2).  The word for earth in Hebrew is the word “adamah,” which is where the name “Adam” comes from.  Cain’s earthy desire rules over him.  He is animalistic.

Ishmael “lived in the wilderness and became an archer” (Gen. 21:20).  Esau “became a skillful hunter, a man of the field” (Gen. 25:27).  Reuben “lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine” (Gen. 35:22) either because he was unable to control his lust, or possibly as a manipulating tactic to keep Jacob from having more children and further dividing his inheritance.

Saul, the “firstborn” king, was “a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people” (1 Sam. 9:2).

It may be of note that all of these men are associated with fields and wilderness in one way or another (see Cain, Esau, and Ishmael above; Reuben – Gen. 30:14; Saul – 1 Sam. 11:5).

All of these men are the ones you want to be with in a doomsday scenario. They are fit to survive on the earth. They are what we would refer to as “manly men,” but the Bible calls the “earthy.” And they are all usurped by people who were inferior to them by earthly standards. They are all usurped by the birth of another man.  And this is the lesson God wants us to see.

Usurping Our “Earthy” Selves

Every Christian is a person who has been usurped by their own “second birth.”  The first version of ourselves is “earthy,” as Paul says. As much as our parents may have tried to instill Christian values in us, their parenting alone can only lead to an “earthy” person. They cannot give us birth by the Spirit of God. No one born from the union of man and woman can bear the image of the heavenly.  It must come by having our “earthy” self usurped by our second birth.

This is why Jesus says of John the Baptist “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11).

And Jesus famously tells Nicodemus about this second birth: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (Jn. 3:3-7).

When Christ comes again, his usurpation of Adam will be complete. Those who have taken part in the second birth will receive the inheritance, just like Seth, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David. Those who have trained themselves in the cutthroat, “survival of the fittest” tactics of the world will not receive the inheritance.

Earthy vs. Heavenly

For a little while, however, each Christian is a heavenly person in an earthy body. There are always two people struggling for power within us. Even though we may have been born again, the earthy man tries to regain power all the time. The earthy person inside of us listens to nothing but violence and force. This is why he must be crucified daily. Just as we don’t negotiate with terrorists, neither do we negotiate with the earthy man within us. He must be given no quarter. He will presume upon your generosity and then shame you for it.

Jesus’ death on the cross showed us exactly how much it takes to usurp the firstborn. Cain’s descendants overtook the earth before it was destroyed by the flood. Esau’s descendants (Edom) were constantly at war with Israel. Saul tried to kill David over and over. All Christians  must therefore learn to take up their cross and usurp the earthy man daily (Lk. 9:23).

There’s much more to be said on this subject, but for now I’ll leave you with more of Paul’s words: “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:17).

The First Baptism


We noted in the last post that many cultures use water as a means to spiritual renewal.  While infusing the physical with spiritual meanings is not unique to Christianity alone, Christianity grounds and develops this meaning more deeply into its narrative than any other culture, religion, or philosophy. Before we even look at immersion in the New Testament, there are some foundational narratives to be appreciated.

A Corrupted World

The first narrative of immersion in the Bible starts in Genesis 6.  “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:11-12).

This “corruption” is the opposite of what God saw in Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” The life and health of the pure world God created in the beginning had been polluted.  While I believe that God is concerned that we take care of the physical environment we live in, what is far more important is our spiritual pollution.  The debauched, vice-ridden world of Genesis 6 was a spiritual filth above all else.

Cleansing the Corrupted World

So what is God going to do with this corrupted, filthy world?  He’s going to give it a bath.  He’s going to cleanse the world of the grime that clings to it, and the worst of this grime is corrupted mankind itself.

God proceeds to immerse the world in water: “The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.” (Gen. 7:19-22).

Everything is completely submerged.  The immersion is meant as an undoing of creation.  The birds, cattle and beasts that God had made in the beginning are destroyed, instead of created.  The immersion of the world is also the death of the world.


However, God doesn’t destroy for the sake of destruction.  In fact, he’s only destroying the filth.  It’s the same earth after the flood, but it’s a transformed earth.  The death of the world as Noah knew it led to a pure, re-created world.

The post-flood narrative is a creation narrative. “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided” (Gen. 8:1).

The word for “wind” is the same Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruach).  During the original creation, the world was full of water and a “ruach” was involved in removing the waters to create a habitable place for man. “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (Gen. 1:2).  Water, spirit, and creation go together.

After the water is cleared away, the earth populated with animals and man (Gen. 8:15-19), just as happened in the first creation. The cycles and seasons of the earth that were created in Gen. 1:14-15, are given again in 8:22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night Shall not cease.” After the world is habitable and ready for life, Noah receives the same instruction as Adam in Gen. 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 9:7). To fill out the narrative cycle, Noah is also in charge of a garden (Gen. 9:20), is ashamed of nakedness after sin (9:22-23), and there is a curse given (9:25).

Again, the flood story is a creation narrative.  Out of the chaos and disorder of corrupted humanity, God creates a pure world in which man can have dominion and live with God.

Reliving the Flood Narrative

The flood story gives us three main elements: corruption, cleansing with water, and re-creation. These are the same exact elements involved in Christian conversion. “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:20-24).

How is our corrupted man put away and renewed in the spirit?  Through the demonstration of faith by immersion into water. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

Every Christian baptism is a reenactment of the flood story.  The flood narrative demonstrates how all of God’s people are re-created.  The apostle Peter says “the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:20-21). 

We cannot go back and live during the time of Noah.  We cannot see the world completely cleansed of its moral and spiritual filth, but we can be cleansed and re-created just like the world of Noah’s day.