The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Should We be Working Toward Pluralism?

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Can a biblically-based government (including the civil sphere) operate within the conceptual framework of pluralism? While it depends on the definition of pluralism, let me say that the modern concept of pluralism is one of the most pernicious inventions of the twentieth century designed to eliminate the Christian religion. All sorts of evil acts are done in the name of "pluralism." Homosexuality and abortion, for example, are defended and supported on the basis of pluralism.

Some social theory must be chosen for the operation of the State. The chosen social theory will more or less exclude all other theories. This does not mean, however, that individuals and groups cannot hold opposing views. There are numerous instances where a personal choice, and the implementation of that choice, is outside the jurisdiction of the State. Those holding that view, therefore, have freedom to implement that choice. Education is a good example. While the ethical underpinning of our nation is pluralism, we see the diminution of freedom in the choice of educational options. If we propose a minimal State with minimal power then individuals, groups, and institutions are most free.

Pluralism makes all opinions equal except for any opinion that claims not all opinions are equal. This means, for example, that doctors who protect the unborn through heroic measures and advanced technology are no more ethical and deserving of praise than doctors who perform abortions or who deliberately snuff out the life of a terminally ill patient. Let me quote R. C. Sproul, a highly respected Bible teacher and social theorist:

Some time ago I spoke at a meeting of religious leaders and I told them, "If anybody comes to you and tries to sell you on the virtues of pluralism as a basis for church renewal, run for your life. Pluralism, as a philosophical idea, is the very antithesis of Christianity. No church can survive for long in that kind of chaos."[1]

Now, someone could make the case that Sproul is only talking about religious pluralism. But isn't political pluralism the result of competing religious positions? Sproul goes on to imply this. First he talks about schools (120), abortion (123-26), and statism (126-27). Sproul equates pluralism with relativism. He writes:

The rapid growth of the centralized state is happening before our eyes in the United States. Consider the areas in which the state functions today where it did not function thirty years ago. Consider the areas where the people of America formerly looked to God for their security, their meaning, and their decision making and now, instead, they look to the state. This eventually becomes statism, where the state becomes the goal of life. The state becomes the reason for us to live. The state unifies, transcends, becomes absolute, and is eternal.[2]

Sproul blames this on "pluralism." Pluralism "is the result of the loss of transcendent unity. The God whom we worship is a God who brings unity, but at the same time preserves diversity."[3]

The State is not neutral. Some religion acts the driving force of its policies. The non-neutral State will work until every competing religious system is eliminated.

Under the doctrine of pure pluralism–to which many secularists say they subscribe–all lifestyles are permitted. Thus, in the end, cannibalism, human sacrifice, group suicide, the Manson Family, polygamy, and kiddie porn would have to be allowed. "Who are we to say what is right and what is wrong?" is the common refrain. Clearly, society cannot long survive if this principle is pushed to its logical conclusion and everyone is free to write his own laws. Thus, we subscribe to pluralism within certain limits. We allow a wide range of behavior, even though we don't always approve of it. But we do not permit all behavior. We do not even allow all so-called "victimless" behavior–such as prostitution, drug addiction, drunkenness, and the like. The reason we don't is that our laws presuppose certain truths. Pure freedom of conscience, then, can never really be tolerated. Government neutrality on matters of religion and morals is a modern myth. We can never escape the question: Whose faith, whose values, whose God undergirds the civil laws of a nation?[4]

Endnotes:

[1] R. C. Sproul, Lifeviews: Understanding the Ideas that Shape Society Today (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1986), 120.
[2] Sproul, Lifeviews, 126.
[3]
Sproul, Lifeviews, 127.
[4] Benjamin Hart, Faith and Freedom: The Christian Roots of American Liberty (Dallas TX: Lewis and Stanley Publishers, 1988), 357.

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