Monthly Archives: May 2018

Unicultural Uniformity

Of the little pilot-fish words that swim alongside the more commonly mangled word, culture, two of the more frequently heard are multicultural and diversity. In fact, these have become unquestioned, and probably unassailable holy-words in modern culture. A competitive company will have somewhere on its Vision and Mission statement, “Our core-values include a commitment to diversity”.

Like all mangled words, these represent a vague idea associated with an undefined good. To some, they mean, “to not unfairly privilege one ethnic group over another.” To others, they mean something like, “to populate with representatives of many religions, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations.” While everyone will agree that in a meritocracy, no one should be dismissed or favoured because of a genuinely in-born trait (such as skin-colour or gender), this is not really what multiculturalism and diversity have come to mean.

They have really come to mean that the one truth everyone must accept is that there are many truths. What everyone in secularism must bow before is the idea that no culture can be judged better than another, no religion may claim to be truer than another, no gender may be regarded as unequal in strengths and gifts to another (or even forced on one), and no sexual orientation can be claimed as normative or deviant. A commitment to multiculturalism and diversity is a commitment to religious pluralism and moral relativism.

But as is becoming clear, multiculturalism is pluralistic only with those submissive to pluralism. Those who continue to claim their religion is exclusively true, or that LGBT sexual orientations are deviant, or that males and females are just that, will soon find an aggressive response more intolerant than the most narrowly rigid ideologies. They will be excoriated in the news media, roundly abused on social media, and perhaps punished legally. It turns out that multiculturalism and diversity are quite committed to a unicultural uniformity on their view of multiculturalism and diversity. Disagree and be punished.

Furthermore, it is not enough to quietly disagree. Multicultural diversity requires you make public acts of penance for ever having held another view. These will include removing or replacing whatever sign, statement, term, practice, or object that in any way insinuates present or historical non-conformity to multicultural diversity. They will include making amends for previous non-conformity by hiring employees so as to reflect multicultural diversity, by marketing and advertising in ways that reflect multicultural diversity, and by having public relations watchdogs ready to issue apologies and offer reparations for any infringement of multicultural diversity. If they hadn’t told us of their enlightened motives, we might even think that multicultural diversity is an oppressive, tyrannical ideology. But as they remind us, it is their opponents who are Nazis. Phew.

Strangely enough, the Bible describes an altogether different kind of diversity. Revelation 7 describes a scene in heaven:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10)

Amazingly, this multitude made up of representatives from every historic ethnos, tribe, people group and language group, say the same thing. This group, diverse in their ethnic origins, are united in belief in Jesus Christ, in praise for His name, and in submission to Him. Here is one culture, composed of many ethnicities. Here is one religion, composed of many nations, and men and women. Here is one Bride, composed of many tribes, given to one Bridegroom. It is taken for granted that with such a group, they were saved out of their religions, out of their deviant sexual behaviour, and out of their false views. This is a uniculture, or monoculture, with complete uniformity in loves and beliefs, composed of the greatest diversity of people groups that will ever be gathered. 

The best part is that this diverse uniculture was achieved through persuasion, not coercion. No one has to become a Christian. In obedience to Christ, we do not persecute those who disagree with us, or punish them legally (Jo 18:36). It was Christianity, and Baptists in particular, that taught the world that the church cannot be a state church, nor should the state enforce religion. The very idea of allowing free men and women to worship according to conscience is a Christian idea, not the brainchild of secular atheists.

The weird paradox is then this: in pursuit of “multicultural diversity”, secularists are actually tyrannically enforcing a de facto unicultural uniformity. And Christians, in pursuit of a unicultural uniformity (in Heaven), are tolerant of a multicultural, diverse, secular order.

Christians should be committed to fulfilling the Great Commission, which will create the scene in Revelation 7. Christians should be against partiality of all forms: racism, prejudice, and chauvinism. But Christians should not burn incense to the Caesar of multiculturalism and diversity, as the world means those words. To do so will be to deny that Jesus is Lord. 

 

Pagan Culture and Apostate Culture

In discussions of evangelising the post-modern West, something is often forgotten. Those cultures which were formed by Christianity and have since abandoned it are not reverting to paganism. They are not pagan cultures. They are apostate cultures, and an apostate culture is a much scarier animal than a pagan one.

C.S. Lewis wrote on how much easier it would be to witness to a pagan culture.

“Christians and Pagans had much more in common with each other than either has with a post-Christian. The gap between those who worship different gods is not so wide as that between those who worship and those who do not…

It is hard to have patience with those Jeremiahs, in Press or pulpit, who warn us that we are “relapsing into Paganism”. It might be rather fun if we were. It would be pleasant to see some future Prime Minister trying to kill a large and lively milk-white bull in Westminster Hall. But we shan’t. What lurks behind such idle prophecies, if they are anything but careless language, is the false idea that the historical process allows mere reversal; that Europe can come out of Christianity “by the same door as in she went” and find herself back where she was. It is not what happens. A post-Christian man is not a Pagan; you might as well think that a married woman recovers her virginity by divorce. The post-Christian is cut off from the Christian past and therefore doubly from the Pagan past.”

An apostate is treated very differently in Scripture to an infidel. An infidel suppresses the truth of general revelation, but has not claimed membership with the people of God. His unbelief is to be rebuked, but he is to be patiently evangelised.

Conversely, an apostate claims to be one of the people of God, while denying and opposing the fundamentals of the faith. Entire New Testament books, such as Jude, 2 John, and 2 Peter, give the bulk of their content to identifying and responding to apostates.

What then does apostasy look like on a cultural level? An apostate culture claims to be all the things Christianity brought: virtuous, tolerant of other views, loving, respectful of human freedom, interested in human dignity, peace-loving, concerned with mercy and justice, governed by sound reason, gentle to all, etc. At the same time, it now vociferously renounces the fundamentals of the faith that gave it those things: the authority of Scripture, the deity and humanity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the depravity of man and the need for atonement, the essentiality of faith in grace. It does not want the moniker Christian, but it wants the equivalent of the title righteous: good person, tolerant, and loving. It wishes to receive all the benefits and privileges that Christianity brought, but it would disown all the responsibilities that Christianity demands: belief, submission and love of Christ. 

We should note that this phenomenon is new, as far as Christianity goes. Israel committed apostasy, too, and the books of the prophets details what a perverted and warped effect it had on post-Solomonic Israel. But since Christianity was never rooted in one land, it took many years before one could say that Christianity had permeated a culture. And only after the Enlightenment (a misnomer, if there ever was one), do we now encounter a culture apostate from Christianity. 

We are only beginning to see the terrifying effects of this. Morality without religion soon becomes a terrifying tyranny. Freedom without grace-enabled submission soon becomes the mere power to assert one’s will. Love without a holy God becomes lust in hitherto-unseen forms. Reason unhinged from Revelation and ordinate affection becomes a perverse Pied Piper, leading souls to absurd, and yet “logical”, places. Tolerance without worship becomes coercion. When the Christian God is denied, the image of God in man must steadily be abolished, and the result is a nightmarish culture. 

Most frightening of all, unlike evangelising a pagan culture, this culture has heard the Good News. They are not in darkness, needing the light of the Gospel to free them from the chains of idolatry. They have seen the light, turned from it, and are not interested in seeing it again. Denials of Christianity’s claims are taught in the classroom, the lecture hall, the TV documentary, and often funded with tax-payer money. Our kings and princes know the culture is apostate, and would have it so. 

How do we evangelise an apostate culture? I’m yet to see the evangelism and missions books take this seriously. What does “And on some have compassion, making a distinction but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh(Jude 1:22-23)” mean, on a cultural level? Should we seek to “redeem” or “transform” the cultural equivalent of a JW Kingdom Hall? 

Perhaps we had best begin weighing up what Scripture says about those who have been enlightened but have fallen. It might influence what we do and don’t do to win the lost. It might change whether we think it appropriate to make the lost feel at home in our worship. It might change how we do apologetics as a whole.