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Pluralism’s Trojan Horse

08 Sep

by Gary DeMar

With the leveling of religion, we are seeing the leveling of morality. All lifestyles are permitted in the name of diversity and pluralism. In nearly every case, Christians are the losers. Pluralism is the bait for Christians to embrace a distinctiveless Christianity. The call for Christians to adopt pluralism is just another way of diluting the truth. Pluralism becomes a club to pound out the theological bumps that makes Christianity unique among all the religions of the world. And what is the fruit of the new and improved pluralist worldview?

As soon as the words “Our pluralistic society will not permit . . .” are uttered, Nativity scenes are dismantled, Christmas vacation becomes Winter Holiday, and a moment of silence in public schools is no longer merely a vain illusion but a prohibited sin against pluralism. But say “Our pluralistic society requires. . .” and homosexual activists receive affirmative action support for job demands, parents need not be notified of a minor daughter’s intention to abort their grandchild, and Rotary Clubs and saunas are gleichgeschaltet [equalized] into unisex. Whether or not one endorses pluralism seems to be a litmus test for whether one is persona grata in the modern world.1

The pluralists, in their desire to be heard, have abandoned the very thing that will make a fundamental difference in the world: Jesus Christ and the uniqueness of God’s written revelation.

Is pluralism biblically defensible? Should Christians back off, giving a supposed equal opportunity to other competing minority or majority positions in the name of pluralism when those positions advocate unbiblical and anti‑Christian lifestyles? Do we allow abortion for competing systems when they claim the “pluralist” model in defense of their position? Should the State allow “homosexual” marriages? Would the Mormon be permitted to practice polygamy?2 Should Satanists be permitted to worship according to the “dictates of their own conscience” even if it meant consensual human sacrifice?

The Bible teaches pluralism, but a pluralism of institutions under God’s single comprehensive law system. Scripture does not teach a pluralism of law structures, or a pluralism of competing moralities that have equal standing. All of life is under God’s law because God judges all of life in terms of His law.10 Every person is equal before the law. “The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you” (Ex. 12:49; also Lev. 24:22; Num. 15:16). A Christian who commits a crime should be treated the same way as a non‑Christian who commits a crime.

With increased immigration of religious traditions from Eastern and Asian countries and the acceptance of these traditions on an equal par with Christianity, Christianity no longer shapes the moral content of American democratic ideals. What standard will be used by the pluralists to determine what of each of these traditions should be incorporated in the American ethical mosaic? Robert Bellah has “sought escape from the problems created by religious pluralism by turning to Rousseau’s idea of a civil religion. Advocates of civil religion claim that broad and vaguely stated religious concepts can, without acknowledging any particular religious faith, give a kind of transcendent reinforcement to values that are deemed useful to society.”3 But who ultimately speaks for these values? Adolf Hitler used civil religion as a way of maintaining civic loyalty. Hitler’ message in the early years of his Reich government was based on what has been described as “moral culture.”

The focus of civil religion is not the individual but the social whole. “Civil religion really places the welfare of the state at the heart of human values, and is therefore easily manipulated by those holding political power.”4 Christian advocates of pluralism are living off the older Christian consensus which, as Francis Schaeffer has pointed out, cannot last long “when one removes the Bible in which God has spoken propositionally. . . .”5

The truth is that democratic values, at least historically, have rested largely on a Judeo‑Christian foundation. Once a system of social values has been created, it may acquire a life of its own, to some degree enriched through contact with other sources. But if the Judeo‑Christian roots were destroyed, the superstructure of democratic values would probably not persist for long. If this is true, the political system is to some extent dependent on a religious tradition, or traditions, to which not all Americans can be expected to belong.6

There is no doubt that pluralists of all types, secular as well as religious, espouse some of the general fruit of a Christian worldview. There is a great deal of talk about “individual rights” and “justice.” But what do these terms mean in their particular applications? Individual rights for some will mean the “right” of a mother to kill her pre‑born baby. Homosexual “rights” groups want full and unrestricted freedom to practice their “alternative lifestyle,” all in the name of “rights.” How does the doctrine of pluralism answer these requests for legal and civil legitimacy? It doesn’t and can’t.

Gary DeMar is the President of American Vision.


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1 Harold O. J. Brown, “Pluralism in Miniature,” Chronicles (May 1988), 13.

2 The Supreme Court declared that polygamy was out of accord with the basic tenets of Christianity: “It is contrary to the spirit of Christianity and the civilization which Christianity has produced in the Western world.” (Mormon Church v. United States, 136 U.S. 1 [1890]). Earlier the Court declared that “Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries. . . . To call their advocacy a tenet of religion is to offend the common sense of mankind.” (Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 [1890]).

3 A James, Reichley, “Religion and American Democracy,” The World & I (January 1991), 557.

4 Reichley, “Religion and American Democracy,” 558

5 Francis A. Schaeffer, Back to Freedom and Dignity (1972) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, 5 vols. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 1:379.

6 Reichley, AReligion and American Democracy,” 558.

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