This article is about pluralism and tolerance in our society. It looks at the relation of church and world.

Source: New Horizons, 1984. 2 pages.

Is There Room For Unbelief?

Does the Bible call the church militant to limited war where one side does not seek victory but only a standoff? George Marsden, in the October New Horizons, called for just such a mediating strategy by advocating political pluralism.

In the war of ideas, ethics and rule are we to struggle only to the point of ease and safety – a kind of religious-philosophical parity? Or are we to seek the crushing of “Satan's head beneath our feet” as the Apostle Paul prophesied (1 Corinthians 16:20)? I would argue for Paul, identifying the former idea as a form of Libertarianism or accommodationism. Such pluralism thrives in constructing alternative absolutes to Jehovah God and then demanding tolerance.

Pluralism and Unbelief🔗

What does the Word of God teach us about the origin of pluralism? Was there pluralism in the Garden of Eden? The question answers itself. In paradise, all things gloried in God and his ideas. There was room for no other. Well then, when did pluralism become a factor in the equation of life? You guessed it – in the Fall! It was Satan who introduced pluralism with his wickedly subtle question, “Hath God said?” Any way other than God's is generically Satanic.

But does pluralism have a special claim on humanity? Is it inherently virtuous? Was it somehow discovered in America – out of immigrant compassion and tolerance – as a superior idea born late in time? So Marsden would argue. But God commanded, “You shall love the Lord [i.e. and not somebody else or their ideas] your God with all your heart and soul and might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This all-consuming love was to be man's rule for life. It was to be his duty and his joy. His aspiration was to be of paradise, and not paradise lost.

Can man love God in this way and accommodate himself to other philosophies, definitions or ideas of life? Can he be pro-Christian only up to a certain point, and then fill in the remainder of his life with ideas that are deficient of this all-encompassing love?

Of course not; and in these senses philosophical pluralism, be it religious or political, must be rejected! God does not allow it. It is not our luxury. Our ethics cannot be determined by Congress or any other group of men. If we stand with one foot on the Bible and the other on humanism's most current totem, we do not stand in covenant with God. God's covenant is objective and revealed. “Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:5). From revelational monotheism flows clarity, singularity, goodness and beauty. Pluralism, though a seductive suitor, is really a lying whore of confusion, evil and ugliness.

When Israel became pluralistic, God through Jeremiah compared her to a wild ass in heat. This did not mean that the ass did not have ideas, but that they were bad ones! That which the ass saw as freedom and perogative, God saw as hormonal (i.e. sin determinative) blindness. That which she saw as rational and loving, God saw as irrational and wicked. This was because she insisted on loving strangers, and said, “After them will I walk” (Jeremiah 2:24-25).

Was Jesus, the divine incarnation of love, pluralistic? We think not. His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is all-inclusive of nations and philosophies. All were to be tutored by Christ. Should this surprise us? In the Old Testament God stated openly before foreign political leaders, “I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). He gives them two alternatives: either “Kiss the Son” (i.e. pay homage to him) or be “broken with a rod of iron” (Psalm 2:12, 9).

Pluralism or the Church🔗

Now the church may be asleep to these ideas in the latter half of this century. Or she may be like the wild ass in the wilderness, a captive to her own peculiar reason. She may not recognize the implications of monotheistic Yahweh worship. Pluralism may appeal to her. She may refrain from legislating or forcing her law-morality on those she has in her sphere of influence. She may do all these things, but she will never be right until she calls all men at all times to Christ.

There is no quarter in this conflict. If pluralism was to be the church's program, she never would have needed the promise of blessing for being persecuted for righteousness's sake (Matthew 5:10). She wouldn't have had a definition of righteousness (i.e. law) with which to offend anybody; and even if she had, she never would have pushed her program on account of its offense. But just because pluralism is not the church's program, men would “revile [her] … on account of Christ” (Matthew 5:11).

Was this exclusive gospel not the song of all of the great men of biblical faith? Was it not the driving impulse behind the Reformers and their children? Was its throb not the pulse of J. Gresham Machen? Has not even Fundamentalism recently rediscovered this old Reformed concept?

Should not then the Orthodox Presbyterian Church today cleanse herself of all contrary notions? Should she not eschew pluralism and “put on Christ”? Should she not be at the front of his church's advance on the deadly idols of this world? And will she not win the battle (cf. Ephesians 1:22-23) through him who conquers all?

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