Saturday, February 11, 2006

False Religions, part 2

This post is a continuation of an earlier post in which I asserted that three factors in the American milieu or fabric make us particularly prone to create false religions, namely, individualism, pragmatism, and pluralism.
Individualism tells us that not only are we completely unique but that our destiny, our purpose, is one that we are most likely to find and accomplish alone. Unlike other collectivistic societies, ours largely holds up models of individuals who "have made it." Benjamin Franklin, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Frank Sinatra, Bill Gates, etc. Our society aspires to individual glory.
The second ingredient is pragmatism. This idea holds that an idea or system is only as good as it is useful. For example, a pragmatist would have no use for handwritten letters, when emails get the job done more efficiently. Ideas such as abstinence are only looked to for "concrete" reasons, such as preventing transmission of disease and unplanned preganancies. With modern science and technology, abstinence becomes to the pragmatist 99.9% useless. Morality does not factor into the pragmatist's thinking. You can already see how such a view would dismantle any dogmatic ideology. Indeed, dogmatic has come to take on a negative connotation in our society because after all, ideas should change with the times and anything rigid and fixed is old hat.
Thirdly, pluralism holds that there can be multiple and even contradictory truths, co-truths, as it were. You and I can see God one way, another person may not believe He exists at all, and a third may believe there are multiple gods. Pluralism will give validity to all three simply because they are sincerely believed. This simply makes no sense. Either something is or it isn't. It can't be and not be. Just because someone believes it to be so, does not make it so. This debate calls into question the very existence of objective truth. If a person who is color blind looks at a red wagon, she will not see red at all, but some shade of gray. However, you and I "know" it's red. A pluralist, and a deconstructionist would argue that the truth of the matter depends on the nature of the perceiver. In some sense, yes, Jesus did many miracles in front of the Jews, but they neither saw with their eyes nor understood with their hearts (John 12:40). Does this make Jesus both Messiah and non-Messiah? No! The Truth is. "I am." End of debate.
In the end, when we take individualism, pragmatism, and pluralism and roll them all together in the American politically correct atmosphere, we get a statement that sounds something like this, "Whatever works for you." Whatever (pluralism) works (pragmatism) for you (individualism). It's a false logic, and it's a false religion. As Christians we should not find ourselves saying these words when it comes to the truth about Christ, salvation, or morality.


At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Justin W said...

Great job boiling down three complex issues into their core principles. I agree that our society is one that is not friendly toward absolutes. We are always taught that we can be anything that we want to be, but we are left without a reason why we should want to be anything! We are encouraged to pursue our passions, but we are left without a guiding purpose. Sadly, I think that the Christian culture is guilty of giving us a purpose, without showing us how to live out our passions. I think God's desire lies in the embrace of both (I mean this in a Col. 3:17 kind of way).
Your use of abstinence as an example of pragmatism is an interesting one. It reminded me of a article I read one time on different forms of "safe sex". The article said something to the effect that abstinence was only an effective means of protection when practiced regularly, otherwise it is a poor means of contraception. Boy, did I have a good laugh about that! It made me want to send the author a Webster's dictionary with the word "abstinence" highlighted.
Anyway Josh, thank you for your words. I am off to bed and then to wake and then to go out and live in a culture that I desire to be seperate from but relevant to...

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

Thanks Justin for sharing your thoughts on this subject and for the Bible passage.
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." Ephesians 5:19

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

spectacular analysis of the phrase "whatever works for you".



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