Maleficent: Textbook Postmodern Deconstructionism

Natalina’s review of the film Maleficent: Sympathy for the Devil: Review of Disney’s “Maleficent” went viral attracting the scorn of atheists and lots of nice kudos as well. I’ll commend the reader to read it and just add a few technical points.  Make no bones about it, this is a postmodern deconstruction of Sleeping Beauty. Those big words are important and I will quote from some real pros in order to explain them to you.  Recall that the original tale “Sleeping Beauty” had clear moral categories and children could easily identify the hero and the villain. That moral clarity is the target of subversion. Postmodernism questions any claim to moral truth and asserts relativism as its only absolute albeit it is hanging in midair. Screenwriter Brian Godawa explains:


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Postmodernists focus on “deconstructing” a belief by uncovering the various hidden or unconscious cultural prejudices that shaped it, rather than determining the verity of a truth claim. After all, if there is no transcendent truth or objective reality, then no belief or worldview about reality can be verified. Propositions about reality are reducible to personal agendas or biases, so all debate or inquiry reduces to the uncovering of these biases. Postmoderns will even go so far as to say that personal identity is also an illusion, because we are constructed by our society.  (Brian Godawa. Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment, Kindle Locations 1269-1273).

When one has a working knowledge of these techniques, it makes it simple to see what the movie producers are attempting to do: subvert objective moral categories. This goes much further than entertainment and plays out in religion and politics. New Testament scholar Peter Jones has done a masterful job exposing how this has transformed Western culture. Please consider how this is playing out in terms of spirituality:

one or two

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Postmodern deconstructionists said there is no metanarrative (overarching worldview), but religious pagans didn’t seem to hear them and are busy constructing a new one to explain everything. In other words, we are seeing not a breakdown of law and order, but a redefinition of it; not unrestrained immoral behavior, but a justification of it; not a laxity about sexual perversion, but a legalization of it; not a materialistic rejection of God, but a spiritual redefinition of God that turns Him into the goddess. Intellectual Neopagans dismissed the term “New Age” as narcissistic, focusing only on personal bliss and freedom. Today’s spiritualists are “progressive” or “integral,” eager for a coherent worldview to save the planet. The new systematized paganism includes:

  • a powerful spiritual experience, based on the subconscious, that provides an exit from rationalism;
  • a resolution of the conflict between science and religion;
  • an end to religious strife;
  • a compelling analysis of Western philosophy and a critique of rationalism, materialism and consumerism that is as sharp as some Christian versions;
  • an enchanted, passionate, environmentally-informed view of nature;
  • an all-encompassing geopolitical vision of planetary harmony; a destruction of the illogical church/state wall of separation and the spiritualization of life in the public square;
  • a theory of planetary economics;
  • an all-inclusive, cradle-to-grave, spiritually inspired educational policy;
  • a powerful, therapeutic psychology that delivers from anger and greed and proposes an experience of rebirth;
  • a liberating redefinition of ethics, namely eco-ethics;
  • a radical liberation from narrow heterosexuality into the pleasant paths of pansexuality;
  • and an evolutionary account of history and human significance.

Thousands of progressives in academics, the media and politics, along with liberal church leaders are joining to produce a pagan cosmology to repair our deconstructed world. Such a worldview, proposed as “timeless perennial truth,” is full of exuberant, infinite possibilities.

People are attracted to the new cosmology not only because it proposes progressive ideas and behavior, but because it explains and justifies them, so that they can be adopted in good conscience. Having absorbed the worldview makeover, which appeals to freedom, civil rights and progress, people respond: “Oh, I get it. Why not? Makes sense to me.” (Peter Jones. One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference. Kindle Locations 614-636).

I hope it is becoming clear that Maleficent is much more than a revamping of an old fairy tale. The writers certainly do have an agenda and they can propagate it worldwide through an entertainment medium and most people do not even realize they are being manipulated. Pantheistic monism, what Jones calls oneism is the overarching pagan spirituality of our time.

One-ism believes that “all is one” and shares the same essential nature. Theologians use the term “consubstantiality.” As you probably know, “con” means “with” in Latin, and you know what “substantial” means—“substance” or “essence.” In One-ism, everything shares the same essence. In a word, everything is a piece of the divine. (One or Two,151–157.)

In contrast biblical theism proposes a transcendent creator God. Paul draws this distinction within the context of Roman paganism: “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”(Romans 1:25). In Disney’s world there is no creator God, magic serves in the role of an impersonal divine force from within nature.  It is a oneist cosmology in which evil becomes good and good becomes evil and there really is no distinction – all is one. Jones explains:

In the make-believe world of One-ism, distinctions are anathema. All distinctions, like true and false, right and wrong, good and evil, Creator and creature, Christ and Anti-Christ, are considered relative, meaningless notions. The goal of the mature spiritual person is to “join the opposites,” to create unity out of difference and so to take control of life. True spirituality means creating your own reality by making an amalgam of your dark and light sides. (Jones, One or Two: Kindle Locations 2084-2087).

Of course the above describes exactly what happened in the film. In the end, the hero and the villain are the same person: Maleficent. It’s textbook postmodern deconstruction designed to subvert objective morality, replace it with postmodern relativism and promote the new pagan spirituality.

Thinking About Moral Relativism

Highly recommended reading on relativism

Is morality merely a matter of opinion? Many in our culture today believe that it is. They believe issues like same sex marriage and abortion are up to each individual to decide. Moral relativism is the view that when it comes to moral issues there are no universally objective answers on ethics, no inappropriate judgments, no rational means to make moral distinctions that apply every time, in all situations, for all people.[1]  Thus, morals are subjective opinions in the same way as someone’s taste in music, art or ice cream. A subjective truth claim makes the claimant the subject of the truth. For instance, if I say “I like butter pecan ice cream” the statement is about me not the ice cream. However, if I say “this ice cream has melted” then the ice cream is the subject. This second statement is an objective claim because it can be checked by anyone who examines the ice cream. Accordingly, if it is a runny mess then my claim is true, if it is still frozen my claim is false. Similarly, moral relativism is the position that morality is akin to taste in ice cream. But is this really the case? Aren’t there moral issues that seem genuinely objective?


I believe it is demonstrable that morality is objective, even if it is not always easy to discover. Obvious examples can be found in the extremes. Historical atrocities like the holocaust are universally believed to be truly evil. Child abuse and rape are universally believed to be immoral. If someone disagrees, we generally refer them to a mental health professional. C.S. Lewis is famous for observing that to understand that a line is crooked then we must have some sort of idea of what a straight line looks like. Thus, it follows that when we clearly see these things as evil, we are judging them against a similar standard of how things ought to be.  We do not invent this standard we discover it, just as we don’t invent mathematical or logical truths, we simply observe them.  Relativism denies the existence of these standards and argues that there is morally neutral ground, so we should not judge others.

Yet there is a profound incoherence in this foundational principle of the moral relativist. By saying we ought not to judge others they have imposed their own absolute moral rule. In fact, they are judging those who they perceive as judgmental, making them the worst sort of hypocrites.  Indeed, there is no morally neutral ground and moral relativism promotes intolerance of anyone who does not agree with it.  To elevate tolerance is in itself a moral ought. In fact, given relativism, there is no basis to complain about evil, fairness, justice or accuse others of wrongdoing. Relativism is ultimately contradictory and self-refuting. We do not each have our own individual moral truths; everyone instinctively recognizes a large body of moral standards. People begin with moral propositions.

The burden of proof is not on the person who holds to moral absolutes rather it is on the one who claims they do not exist. The proposition that “it is always wrong to torture innocent children for fun” needs no defense. In fact, anyone who disagrees is diagnosed a psychopath and we routinely lock such folks away in prison for life. If moral relativism were true, we would have no ground to stand on. We would be in the position to say, “While I disagree with torturing innocent children for fun, it may be fine for you.” But this is barbaric and against the foundational concepts of civilization. No one can really live this way, which explains the hypocrisy noted above. The best explanation for the objective morality that we instinctively observe is that the very fabric of reality was created by a rational moral agent.  As Christians, we argue that this agent is the God of the Bible and objective morality is a reflection of His holy nature.


[1] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1998), 12.

Upcoming Future Congress Workshop on Tactics

Tactics For Defending the Faith in a Fallen World

Some might think that an apologetics workshop is a bit out of place at the Future Congress. It may seem so on the surface, but I think upon closer examination not only its relevance but its urgent necessity will come to light. The Gospel has always been an offense to prideful men but lately things have escalated. Spiritual warfare largely takes place in the life of the mind. When Satan enticed Eve to sin he did it by implanting a false idea (Gen 3:1). My workshop Tactics for Defending the Faith in a Fallen World is designed to equip you to engage in the realm of ideas.

What would you say if a friend said, “It’s wrong for missionaries to try to change peoples religious beliefs. We should respect their indigenous culture”?

How about when your neighbor says, “Well you can’t really just accept the Bible it’s been translated so many times that no one can really be sure what it originally said”?

Or how about when your son or daughter comes home from school and tells you that their teacher taught them that, “All religions are equally true and valid for those who believe in in them”?

You do not have to be an expert on every subject to respond to these ideas and promote the truth of the Gospel. There is a simple and effective tactical method that anyone can learn to deal with these and more.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. – John 15:18-19

Biblical Christianity is becoming increasingly marginalized in America. For decades, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other radical anti-Christian groups have been on a mission to eliminate the expression of Christian values in the public square. The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal organization committed to defending religious liberty for Christians that has successfully defended these following cases recently:

  • A then-second-grade student at a public school in New Jersey was told that she could not sing “Awesome God” in an after-school talent show.
  • A pastor of a church in Arizona was ordered to stop holding meetings or Bible studies in his private home.
  • Five Christian men were threatened with arrest for sharing their faith on a public sidewalk in Virginia.
  • A Christian student at a university in Missouri was threatened with having her degree withheld because she refused to write a letter to the state legislature expressing her support for homosexual adoption.
  • A pro-life nurse at a hospital in New York was forced to participate in a late-term abortion, even though her workplace had agreed in writing to honor her religious convictions.

They report that the persecution and censorship is becoming prevalent especially at the University. Unfortunately, the future promises to become more precarious. All Christians need apologetics skills!

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3

What is worse are the incoherent beliefs expressed by professing Christians. According to the 2008 Pew survey results:

  • 78% overall say there are “absolute standards of right and wrong,” but only 29% rely on their religion to delineate these standards. The majority (52%) turn to “practical experience and common sense,” with 9% relying on philosophy and reason, and 5% on scientific information.
  • 74% say “there is a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” but far fewer (59%) say there’s a “hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”
  • 70%, including a majority of all major Christian and non-Christian religious groups except Mormons, say “many religions can lead to eternal life.”
  • 68% say “there’s more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. -Matthew 10:16

Jesus taught that when you find yourself a sheep amidst wolves, be innocent but shrewd. This teaching calls for a tactical approach. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20). Accordingly, although there is real warfare going on, our engagements should look more like diplomacy than combat. The training offered in this workshop is based on the tried and true techniques I learned myself from master Christian apologist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. It is my honor and privilege to pass this valuable teaching on to you.In this workshop you will be introduced for techniques to:

  • Initiate conversations effortlessly
  • Stop challengers in their tracks and turn the tables
  • Graciously and effectively expose faulty thinking
  • Maneuver through mine fields
  • Present the truth clearly, cleverly, and persuasively

The workshop will meet for two one hour sessions Friday July 22 at 3:00 and then Saturday at 3:30. I look forward to meeting you in Branson!

Unbelievable: Deconstructing Brian McLaren’s Postmodern Nonsense

One of the podcasts I listen to weekly is Unbelieveable. If you have yet to discover it, it is one of the best apologetics shows going. On last weeks show the reformed Baptist apologist, James White, squared off with emergent church leader Brian McLaren. The show is available here. First of all, I was impressed with James’ restraint and professionalism. He obviously did his homework. Second, McLaren seems sincerely concerned for the lost. I have often seen him demonized but he seems very genuine. While  McLaren’s empathy is admirable, it has certainly clouded his better judgment. His postmodern stance on Bible interpretation is nonsensical. Like compatriot Rob Bell, he questions biblical truths which have withstood millennia of scrutiny.

James White represented evangelicals well and in fine presuppositionalist style demonstrated that no postmodernist can really live consistently within their worldview. James quoted McLaren’s books and McLaren largely sidestepped. After some discussion, McLaren’s cognitive dissonance became apparent. He argues that because evangelical systematic theology is based on exegesis filtered through a western colonialist worldview, we cannot really be sure about basic doctrines like penal substitutionary atonement. What nonsense!

I wonder does he think John the Baptist was influenced by Western colonialism when he exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!“(Jn 1:29) Seriously…

John the Baptist’s prophetic title for Jesus is theologically rich.  It infers the doctrine of substitutionary atonement which would be accomplished by Jesus death on the cross. Thus, fulfilling the pattern set by the Old Testament sacrificial system by the shed blood of the substitute animal which covers sins and propitiates divine wrath by way of atonement. It’s right there in the early first century. Compassion notwithstanding, it seems that McLaren has lost the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).