So all through the 90's up to this very morning I have been hearing that Christianity is facing its biggest challenge to date - pluralism. *cue spooky sound effects* This is often explained as the idea that there is no objective truth, right or wrong. This belief, in one form or another, is a part of the postmodern worldview. The reasoning goes, if there is no objective truth, then why would anyone need to believe the "truth claims" of Jesus? I guess they wouldn't. Oh man the church is in trouble now!
Look, I understand the fear some people have. Many of the average people on the street when asked if there is absolute truth will answer, "No." Is there objective right and wrong? Often the answer is, "No." But there are two things to keep in mind.
1. How people answer a question like that does not necessarily reflect what they really believe about truth, but often how they feel about the whole modern system. Modernity's promise of truth, answers, and the betterment of the world did not pan out. So they are reacting - rejecting it. And consider this, many of the young people who would answer this way, are also the people supporting social justice and humanitarian causes. They believe it is wrong for people to suffer unjustly, wrong for bigger governments not to protect the weak and exploited, and right for those who have to help those who have nothing. So, do they deny moral absolutism? I don't think so. Perhaps they are just inconsistent, or maybe they are just rejecting one particular packaging of morality.
2. The denial of objective "truth" at any level is not the hindrance some believe it is.
Every culture, world-view and generation carries with it obstacles to the truth. In the modern era people generally affirmed Judeo-Christian morality and absolute truth, yet rejected the supernatural. Miracles simply do not happen and God does not get involved. Sounds like a pretty big hindrance to the Gospel, yet Christ continued to build his church. The postmodern mindset has a problem with "truth," but affirms the supernatural and Gods (gods) involvement in the cosmos. And Christ will continue to build his church.
See, the real problem is not that someone has a worldview that is incompatible with the Bible, the problem is that we have hearts that are so self-driven that we choose worldviews that comfort us. The problem is not the worldview, but the heart. The idea that our worldview is what will keep us from Jesus ultimately denies total depravity and the sovereignty of God in salvation. If the wrong worldview keeps some out of the kingdom, wouldn't the right worldview bring some people in? The picture I see in Scripture is that no one wants in apart from God's saving grace.
The bottom line is, "there is nothing new under the sun." The church has walked through a similar land before and persevered. The maniacal concern some leaders have for pluralism is more reflective of Chicken Little than Jeremiah, Paul or Jesus.
The church is a counter-culture in every culture. Today we are a counter-culture that affirms The Absolute Truth, Jesus Christ, who defines all of creation. We not only affirm right and wrong as a reflection of the character and law of God, but we also believe that our intimate awareness of right and wrong is the consequence of disobeying God in the Garden.
Look, the sky is not falling. Is pluralism dangerous? In many ways it is. Is the church in danger of buying into the philosophy of the day? Of course, just like in Corinth and Colosse! But the church is not on the verge of extinction. It has faced these dangers before. So what is our hope? Jesus and his Gospel!
How I believe the Gospel answers pluralism is for my next post...
(Read Part 2 here.)