The Myth of Pluralism
Before the Civil War the worldview of our nation was overwhelmingly Christian. Since that time the guiding principles upon which our founding fathers established our country have been eroding. In the early 1900’s American society was introduced to the idea of “pluralism.” Pluralism is – the belief that many ideas and beliefs should be used to form one’s own thinking and society in general. Pluralism is the belief that many ideas, even conflicting ideas should be embraced and delighted in and made part of the structure of one’s life and society.
William James (1843-1910), author and philosopher coined the word “pluralism.” According to Mr. James, on the pluralistic view things are “with one another in many ways, but nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything…pluralism is the belief that many groups comprise the polity, and the best government is one which accommodates many different interests in society…pluralism is the situation in which many different cultural practices coexist in a society, often interacting to create new practices…pluralism is the belief that there are many ways to express faith.”
The American mind has been led into this form of thinking and to a great extent even the Church. So let’s look at these statements by William James one by one and compare them to the Christian view of things (worldview):
• “…nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything…”
Christian view – The Christian God, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself claims to dominate everything. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth are given to Me!” He is King of kings and Lord of lords, the Ruler of the kings of the earth who requires submission and loyalty of all humans so much so that even the thought-life of the individual is to be in submission to Him. We see then that according to the Christian worldview, the rule of Christ “includes everything” and “dominates over everything.” (Mat. 28:18-20; Psalm 2:10-12; Rev. 1:5; Philippians 2:9-11; 2 Cor. 10:5; Mat. 5:28).
• “…pluralism is the belief that many groups comprise the polity, and the best government is one which accommodates many different inter
ests in society…”
Christian view – I believe that on the surface the statement is true. However, because of the sinfulness of man, no government can be erected by humanistic man that will truly be concerned for the best interests of the “many groups [that] comprise the polity.” The only government that will strive for such justice and righteousness is that which rests upon the shoulders of Jesus Christ (Isa. 9:6; Heb. 10:12, 13). Such a government on earth can only be fashioned as man in submission to Jesus Christ becomes progressively obedient to His Law-Word. Jesus taught us to seek this when He said pray daily, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven.”
• “…pluralism is the situation in which many different cultural practices coexist in a society, often interacting to create new practices…”
Christian view – At the dispersion of the Tower of Babel God gave opportunity for the various cultures to arise; the peoples were separated into groups and those people groups spread around the globe. In heaven there will be people from every people, tribe and tongue. Though ethnic indicators may follow us to heaven, everything of culture will be made holy. In the meantime, here on planet earth, we are to seek sanctification individually and in our cultures; until Christ returns we daily work and pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven!” (see Zechariah 14:20, 21)
• “…pluralism is the belief that there are many ways to express faith…”
Christian view – It is obvious (from the assumption of pluralism) that the above statement means there are many religions (Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, etc.) by which it is good to express faith. The entire Bible nullifies this assumption. In the beginning God created. In the fullness of time this Creator God sent Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world to redeem a people for Himself. This same Jesus declares, “I am the First and the Last; the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Religious pluralism is polytheism.
Pluralism permeates American thinking, and much so in the Church. The question should be asked – Since we are a democratic nation, should pluralism be the modus operandi of our society? Should every idea or standard be an option for guiding the United States, or is there a single standard and morality which should be sought? In pluralism according to William James, “…nothing… dominates over everything.” This means that according to pluralism any set of ideas may be acceptable as the governing criteria for society; all should be considered, taken into account, and given a seat at the table. We can test the validity of pluralism by considering the homosexual’s belief that homosexual standards and ideas have as much legitimacy as other ideas and standards. Analyze with me for a moment where the “homosexual rights” campaign is headed. The demand for homosexual rights is not new. This campaign has also been waged in ancient times as seen in the homosexual confrontation with Lot – “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” Genesis 19:5. These same demands were made in the only other passage in the Bible where homosexuals are seen in action – “…certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!” Judges 19:22 A significant insight ought to be gained here. That insight is this – The fact that these are the only two passages in the Bible where homosexuals are shown in action should inform us that this is exactly where “homosexual rights” will lead. The homosexual spirit has no limits on its demands for “rights.” There is no governing principle to say, “Thus far and no further!” So then, the question should be asked, can the homosexual worldview exist pluralistically with other worldviews as a governing factor in a society? It is evident that homosexual ideas (in their matured form as seen in the Bible) are not able to exist peaceably with most worldviews and morality standards because those who believe it is acceptable for a gang of men to come to one’s home and demand the right to molest those on the inside are few and far between! It is obvious then that pluralism is a myth. Every idea and standard cannot have equal opportunity and sway in a society, or be successfully included in a homogenized mix of ideas and standards. Standards of morality compete for preeminence and it is a fight to the death. One single idea or standard will eventually emerge as the directing standard. Even when pluralism is attempted, someone or some group sorts through the plurality of ideas and decides which ones will be the governing principles; this in turn means it is no longer pluralism, but whatever those who are in control decide. The idea of pluralism is but a fog over the minds of those duped into conformity to a non-pluralistic standard.
It has taken several generations for our nation to deteriorate from one of Christian standards to a pluralistic society. King Solomon however accomplished it in one generation. Solomon created for himself a pluralist household which in turn transferred to his kingdom so that the society also became pluralist; God’s standard was no longer the governing assumption. The result was multiplied confusion in his kingdom which lasted hundreds of years until Judah was finally exiled to Babylon. Solomon had many foreign wives, and “…it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.” 1 Kings 11:4-8. Under King David, Solomon’s father, the standard was the Word and fear of God; one standard. Solomon introduced polytheism which meant the introduction of and royal approval of a mix of standards; confusion!
Ultimately there will be one standard that will rule. “One ring to rule them all!” That rule or standard could be imposed by a dictator, or it could be imposed by a democratic majority. Either way, someone or some group is going to set the standard by which society is governed. What standard should the Christian pray for and (in our democratic republic) work toward as we seek to see His kingdom come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven as much as is possible prior to the coming of Jesus? The parable of the wheat and tares tells us that plurality is in the world and will be until the end. On the other hand Jesus’ command to teach the nations to obey Him shows us pluralism is not a legitimate option for the Christian (Prov. 31:9; Jeremiah 5:28, etc.). It is evident that there is but one legitimate standard for all people. That standard is found in submission to Jesus Christ and His Law-Word, the Bible.
Plurality in our world is a reality God created at the tower of Babel. Plurality is a reality that diminishes day by day as person by person, people group by people group, turn into the Kingdom of God and acknowledge by word and thought, religion and worship, and a progressively sanctified culture that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. “For the nation or kingdom which will not serve you will perish…” Isaiah 60:12. Praise be to His glorious name!
Think about this – Pluralism is self-negating for it is the governing assumption that there should be no governing assumption.
Tags: 2 Cor. 10:5, christian view, christian worldview, different cultural practices, eugene clingman, granola delights, Isaiah 60:12, Jeremiah 5:28, Mat. 28:18-20, Mat. 5:28, one governing assumption, One ring to rule them all!, one standard will rule, Philippians 2:9-11, Pluralism, plurality, Prov. 31:9, Psalm 2:10-12, religious pluralism, Rev. 1:5, The Christian God, thy kingdom come, William James