Love and Justice Amidst the Challenge of Modern Pluralism(Grade Recieved: 97%)

Love and Justice are inescapable themes throughout the annals of history and
serve as a basis towards our ethics and decision making. Love and justice are increasingly being attacked or reformed largely in response to the pressing ethical concerns stemming from a modern pluralist ethos where moral diversity and human experience are seen as healthier than a tradition claiming absolute truth (Netland, 14, 2001). Therefore, just as missionaries, we to must study the philosophy, ideology, and history which have shaped these contemporary theories in order to properly minister to religiously, as well as ethically partake in social and political proceedings (Netland, 15, 2001). We must address what are the worldviews behind the collective, or not so collective, decisions of a people and what or who is at stake. Despite the world’s normative emphasis on perceived justice, the vast segment of Christians have comfortably chosen to disengage from making such discussions a relevant or gripping part of God’s kingdom or aspect of our own called stewardship (Clark, 213). This has allowed such concepts to be defined almost completely independently of the church.
Certainly God is both just and loving, therefore the least we can do as Christians citizens is to interact and influence other individuals and society in a likewise manner (Clark, 214). The cross is perhaps to most profound picture of God’s love and justice torwards us, however it is important to note that this mercy and grace are not passive or inactive. It conveys the glory and knowledge of God restored and bestowed to us thus empowering us for real self government. God’s love and justice are not separately found in the New Testament and Old Testament respectively, but are rather an on going and collective pairing in God’s economy. In the following discussion we will take a look at some of the various theories regarding the challenges posed by modern pluralism while seeking an ethical fusion of love and justice. This analysis will also attempt to illustrate what this means concerning our own judgments and decisions. It will be my goal during the discourse to convey that proper, genuine, and God centered love and justice are not mutually excusive and in fact may be inseparable.
Often social justice or altruistic love is blindly advocated without properly discerning that movement toward some agenda is not always progress. More and more a pragmatic desire for love and justice has permeated through society. This has been predominately fueled by insecure or impoverished egos absent from a Christian ethic to the point that we no longer unpragmatically love others by way of a mature and Biblical love (Bright, 25). The first and greatest of the commandments is to love your God, which is the cornerstone for all universal law and can alone established the staunch and comprehensive love necessary to balance the equation of love and justice as well as work to extended those elements to our neighbors thus fulfilling the second command of Christ (Clark, 211). The idea posed by much liberation theology that to love our neighbor is how we love God seems backward and faulty in that it alters Biblical foundations and opens the door to the justification of any number of humanistic endeavors. Further, for some ethicists to argue that love and justice can be embodied within natural law alone appears intrinsically and historically inaccurate (Clark, 214). These opinions and consequences will be dealt with in greater detail in a latter part of this discussion.
The issue of what is owed to a person brings up the topics of retributive and distributive justice. It seems agreeable that even such punitive acts can work toward a Biblical justice that seeks to be a positive influence regarding the sovereignty of the community and the values of its individuals (Clark, 213). Certainly it is a loving act to convey through methods of justice the message that one does indeed reap what one sows. Equalization of ownership, for example can unjustly show respecter of persons, just as those who choose to spend time with, pursue, and obey God will naturally have a greater relationship and blessing (Smith, 245). I would argue that even the civic duties of justice should be achieved through the eyes of a Christian love and ethos which provides a truly objective disposition and motivation when dealing with the human predicament and condition. Our ethos is not one of love in itself, but rather an adherence to the principles and character to Christ (Clark, 216). A manmade, earthly love begs the question of loving who, what, and how much, while a soulish love that is so deep, eternal, and far reaching fulfills the very law upon which our civilization and moral agency rests. One could insert a virtual flood of supporting quotes from our founding fathers, but for the sake of time the acknowledgement of Jefferson that Christianity is the friend of government as it is the only religion that changes the heart will do.
Certainly, love can only be voluntary and sacrificial and should be put into the more capable hands of the people rather than an all powerful state that can become too involved. This often results in distorting the very concept and exchange of love and justice or the transfer of moral duty (Clark, 234, 235). The Good Samaritan sought to reiterate compassionate justice as a proper ethic amongst the people of Israel with no real or desirable mandate placed on government intervention (Stassen, 338). At the same time however, I would argue that the social and economic theory and disposition of the state can profoundly permeate in the conscious and hearts of a nation, thus working to encourage or facilitate an ethic of moral obligation.
The need for proper justice to carry out our love becomes more evident when encountering a pluralistic society where one or more varying neighbors exist and the emotion and propensity to love alone lacks the ability to discern justly (Clark, 218). The idea of equal regard works to protect us from a blind notion that simply all are equal by including the idea of equal responsibilities, rights, and opportunities for all (Stassen, 332). This helps us reconcile love and justice without increasing the burden on a particular group. Some examples of this could include free medical insurance for all illegal immigrants or hate crimes legislation where the rights, protection, and even the very life of certain minority groups become worth more or are exalted to a hypersensitive state, while the responsibilities and punishment are increased upon other, often majority groups. However, from an individual Christian perspective this maybe somewhat incomplete or confusing if we stop at this definition. The moment the Christian ethic leaves this notion it may completely do away with sacrificial love or create a propensity to simply retrieve a satisfactory or philosophical ethical norm to defuse our problems rather than seek to consistently grasp a motivation which stems from Christ’s words and love depicted on the cross (Stassen, 333).
As His people we should indeed echo God’s special regard for the needy and the poor (Clark, 220). Yet, these peoples must indeed be truly and unfairly oppressed and not also include the marginally offended. Also, Jesus’ model of love and justice did not forcibly micromanage situations or propose an all inclusive extension of justice to the wicked. I would argue this should combat the idea of extending such justice to those like terrorists who would be disqualified by not running the race according to the rules (2 Tim 2:5). Equality cannot dominate our mentality to the point that we remove any deterrents to sin or bondage which would neglect both real love and justice. Christ was concerned with restoring society, depicting a just love that called for one to alter such behaviors (Stassen, 337.)
As we have seen, even the state must deal with establishing some balance between powerless love and loveless power (Clark, 233). The city of San Francisco may adequately portray both the ideas of a self-righteous iron fist as well as emotion based love over justice. Recently a Christian youth group headed by Pastor Ron Luse held a peaceful demonstration during a gay pride parade to which the city’s mayor claimed that they were the most tolerant city in the country and all these Christians should leave immediately. Even more recently, the city has decided to pay the airfare of illegal immigrant drug dealers in order to send them back home as clearly less fortunate victims, only to return at the frustration of local police. The proper role of government could be seen as sinners trying to stop other sinners from sinning. Seeing that our fathers understood man is not inherently good, we have establish a working government embodying three branches after the dimensions of a law giving, interpreting, and enforcing God, providing checks and balances. This seeks to keep the autonomy of the people against acts of political compulsion and coercion (Clark, 234). However, a problem occurs when one branch takes on previously unmerited influence as our own judiciary branch has.
To conclude this section of the essay, I would have take issue with Paul B. Henry’s view that seems to suggest that justice should be based on universal claims of right and defined by a particular social order (Clark, 239). He further claims that attempts to create Christian civics in secular society is sectarian or even totalitarian and denies that all men carry a knowledge to good (Clark, 239, 240). It seems contradictory to believe that we can, independently of Christian principles, agree upon the specifics of that “good” toward a justice that lies outside human volition (Clark, 239). This feels too close to echoing the cause and failures of enlightenment or Kantian thinkers. I would claim that Henry has failed to grasp the manner in which the United State operated within its first 150 years where it more closely resembled a republic with absolutes without oppressive treatment to nonbelievers. Perhaps even the state can love objectively while retaining truly universal claims of justice, provided it and its representatives are willing to retain their eyes and hearts on the ethics of Christ, the all sufficient God. Again, various and more in-depth theories of love and justice on a civic level will be addressed in the following parts of this discourse.
Theories of Love and Justice
In A theory of Justice, John Rawls seems to accept that all religions and philosophies are equally reasonable or irrelevant toward obtaining justice (Johnson, 29). This seems highly naïve and inevitably problematic. As the culture progresses in such a foundationless environment, one ideology will seek dominance at the expense of the others. Such a power struggle may even give way to the establishment of some extreme authoritative or totalitarian oversight. Rawls attempts to set up original principals as well as restraints and conditions on those principals rather than giving in to the utilitarianism of his day (Johnson, 31). These principals would be agreed upon by all with no knowledge of where one would be placed within that society to ensure none would favor a particular group (Johnson, 32). These principals seems somewhat similar to Paul B. Henry’s view mentioned above, and still feel far too unrealistic and ridged when compared to the person of Christ and his character revealed in the Bible. This further could be illustrated as a “let us” Tower of Babel scenario. Contrary to Rawls’ theory, the initially established agreements and perceived fairness will in no way ensure a sustained love or justice toward man or his institutions. (Rawls, 11).
Similarly, Deontological liberalism, stemming from Immanuel Kant, prioritizes right, embodied by individual rights and justice, over good, thus freeing itself from a more moral basis of love (Johnson, 36). This focus again leads us to an ineffectual and ultimately egocentric consciousness that leads one to provide his or her way toward the truth and greatly resembles the decision-making of the first Adam. In efforts to transcend traditional sources of orthodoxy, it creates its own universal morality that produces individual “rational” agents wholly lacking moral character and depth (Sandel, 179). Since the resulting application of this theory comes from a particular human group, that group can enforce it to whatever arena they have the power to, severely limiting the toleration of rival theories (MacIntyre, 345). Liberalism is not elitism because of any monetary reason, but rather due to a posture of possessing the very conception of the components of love and justice based on a given situation or sentiment and its enforcement by political suggestion or mandate.
Furthermore, our institutions can altar the way we view our history and consequently our core notion of justice and methods of enforcing it. Largely, this has worked to enhance liberation theology that makes economics and a social gospel the primary sin and role of political freedom. It is interesting to note that the creation of textbooks beginning in the early 1900’s by a prestigious few in a group called the American Liberal Union began producing text books based on what they called the economic view of American history. Those books effectively and significantly shrunk our history texts by omitting all religious and moral motives of the American colonies. This has altered our views, behaviors, and decision-making today as almost all would site taxation without representation as the reason for the revolution, yet it was 17th on the list of complaints behind many ethical concerns like religious freedom and ending slavery. Also, such textbooks list that the colonies came to American to find gold, leaving out that nearly every colony’s charter declares that their primary motivation was the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and finding gold was a clear secondary goal. Consequently, we often see our decisions based on our own goods or demand rights rather than our God ordained duty. Today, even evangelical voters cite economic concerns as more important than morals when choosing a candidate. History dictates a consistent pattern of bondage to Spiritual freedom, apathy to dependence (on government, economy, etc.), and dependence back to bondage (TBN, 06/25/08).
Those like Augustine convey that those whose identity is rooted in the family of God will not adopt a nation-state as the inevitable provider of hope, direction, and standard of justice and love, which ultimately leads to the inward hopelessness of the post-Nietzscheans. (Johnson, 178). We retain the need to question, criticize and alter such themes in light of scripture because we are so sinful and not because we are so independently enlightened. The social connections between humanity’s existence, fall, and redemption are far too complex for a set of theories introduced by human deduction. This Augustine thought, encourages a perspective of both challenging the status quo that the post-Nietzscheans desire as well as limiting the nation-state role in defining cultures and peoples’ decision making (Johnson, 183). The Jerusalem Council in the book of Acts, for example, was both the radial and orthodox.
Augustine further depicts a Heavenly City that gives no account to contingent differences regarding customs, institutions, and laws, provided that it does not prohibit or hinder the ultimate worship or teaching of the one true God (Augustine, 17). He does not see this as unjust or unloving. One could argue that unlike the post-Nietzscheans, in Augustine’s Heavenly City there is an understanding that complete restoration of justice or a utopia of love should not be attempted because the compassion for those different or undesirable would so easily give way to overreaching or intolerant thought processes or rules of extreme enforcement (Johnson, 184). Conversion, for example, may be desired but it is not required. Augustine would have probably agreed with Reinhold Niebuhr’s definition of tolerance in that we can possess spirited convictions and actions while living with forgiveness as a firm component of our reality (Clark, 191).
Furthermore, truth is perceived as a divine person received and not a procession to be humanly owned by individuals (Johnson, 245). Truth or components of love and justice cannot be forced, or we then reveal an impression contrary to Christ himself. However, a social ethos can be shaped in order to allow regulations based on a Christian humanization to flourish (Werpehowksi, 48). Judgments must be based on a religious theory that is not of works or systems, but of a personal God whose character is knowable through the spheres of life. This is exclusively claimed by the Christian worldview. Conversely, Kant suggests that anything dealing with the metaphysical, including God, the soul, and the love for God, is unknowable and we are left with no motivation to love others (Netland, 139, 2001). A major thought behind our conclusions, remedies and course of action is whether the human predicament is a result of our rebellion toward a holy God, or because of some delusion or ignorance (Netland, 110, 1991). Those pushing for some kind of all-encompassing system of love and justice are ultimately barking down a path of a humanistic global empire, rejecting the principles of Christ, and being unable to reconcile love and justice together.
Even some evangelicals such as Clark Pinnock have begun to emphasize an overly optimistic view of salvation, negotiating Christ’s justice and uniqueness for a cosmic benevolence and love within the universal world of the spirit (Karkkainen, 349). This demonstrates the classic emphasis of liberal theology often accompanying pluralism. What is seemingly not understood is that many specific regulations of justice are not to be overtaken by a law of love, but instead they work toward defining that law (Smith, 242).
All should share common and personal liberties and must not be maliciously harmed, as it is against the true religion to do so, yet there must be one guiding and prevailing view and standard, even if that faith is not accepted by all. Immanuel Kant’s beliefs represented a new shift in western thought and one that may be indicative of the future, claiming that all natural morality and religion must not be particular, but accessible to all no matter the place or time (Netland, 139, 2001). Certainly, Christian truths are no respecter of persons, yet it is only natural and just to say that we must pursue God, and it is he that uses man and not man that use God. Further, there is one mediator between God and man in Jesus. Despite the fact that unhampered indifference is not plausible or wanted, the post-Nietzschean and even much of the liberal train of thought appears to see any desire to contain sovereign differences as arrogance and a misuse of power (Johnson, 183). In the 1980’s, German psychologist Fredric Wertham was adamant that Superman was a fascist and a dangerous role model, perhaps threatened by a powerful and fine application of justice being embodied in someone regarded as such a loving figure. Some believed that no matter the apparent character of a person, more faith is to be placed in a humanistic condition that could at any given time or due to any given circumstance give into personal, irrational actions discounting the possibility of being guided by principal because they cannot fathom such an all encompassing and heart changing faith.
Islam for example, has tenants within its belief system that have given way to extreme views of justice that not only detach it from the necessary deep, soulful, and unconditional love needed for cohesion, but produces an intolerant political system within itself. However, the Christians had a reformation allowing for an intrinsic harmony within a pluralistic society where other elements are tolerated, yet they are not given charge to dictate or constantly alter cultural decision-making or undermine a society’s foundations. Also, unlike many Asian beliefs, Christianity endorses that all peoples are created in God’s image and a personal concern for the condition of the poor and depraved (Karkkainen, 340). In The Natural History of Religion, David Hume suggested that all religions that maintained a unit in one God was as intolerant as the polytheist are tolerant (Hume, 146-47). However, history seems to indicate that a polytheistic view did not produce a more loving or just society. Those like Hume exemplify the prototypical Enlightenment course of discernment claiming that God is silent and therefore man subjects all things to criticism in shaping as he pleases (Gay, 419). The Christian ethic that begun during the Reformation created an American Exceptionalism, which today would probably be called arrogant, that produced a stream of political, social, and religious thought that was fundamentally distinctive and has been unmatched in terms of precedent, success, and endurance.
Past threats such as communism or present-day ones like radical Islam remind us that love and justice are not always about simply putting the interests of others above our own, as it may be unloving and unjust to one’s own people or nation to so freely give away moral preference (Smith, 27, 1976). The Church and our nation seem to have lost their stomachs regarding making discernments when dealing with conflicting claims (Smith, 28, 1976). There are times when we must morally consider the larger good, only hoping that the smaller good can be preserved within the larger one (Smith, 29, 1976). We can hope that through atomic war, peace can be sustained and the greater threat of being subject to a life long tyranny can be avoided (Smith, 29, 1976). I do not find these statements to be unchristian, and furthermore, any dream of perfect peace and love absent from such less than ideal decisions of justice will ultimately come face to face with a more real form of injustice and artificial love (Smith, 29, 1976).
Paul Ramsey elaborates on the thoughts of Karl Barth, reiterating that love can transform natural justice by envisioning human security and well-being theologically, yet this creationist view of human needs is applicable to contemporary secular mores and rights (Werpehowksi, 44). A steady doctrinal love should reaffirm fundamental rights, yet one must be careful not to surrender to a love that surrender all and may go on unchecked, reshaping all components of the preservation justice and safety in the name of humane charity (Werpehowksi, 44). Ramsey rightly advocates Christian discourse on such ethical issues that articulate the moral comprehension of human creation and redemption, the facts regarding its fallenness, and identifies the necessity of preservation amidst moral evil (Werpehowksi, 47).
Meaning for Today
One hypothesis that seems evident from our discussion is that while it may be true that moral freedoms spawn from the idea of equal liberty, it seems less than likely that it will naturally arise from a human depiction or presumption of justice no matter how unbiased one attempts to make its original form (Johnson, 34). Even if we ignore that common sense is not all that common, in an increasingly pluralized society the waters of justice will gradually, inevitably, and usually without detection, become very murky. Calvin was right of course, believing that removing God’s Word is like removing glasses from the blurred eyes of sin (Smith, 249). This final level or result of pluralism asserts that there can be no singular, superior judgment among all these variations, or that nothing is for certain other than that there is no exceptional ethic outside our own selves. It is my own opinion that from this point it is only a matter of time before that one elite group, system, or person that is seen as transcending or encompassing grander universal truths is given the reigns of love and justice, and the theology behind world wars is reborn again.
From Washington to Regan, our leaders have warned that if we decided as a nation that the Bible no longer dictates right and wrong, it is impossible to rightly govern. In the past five decades to our current time, openness has become the greatest of all insights, and to correct mistakes or attempt to be right is not the objective, but rather to never believe you are right to begin with (Bloom, 25, 26). By focusing only on the horizontal construct of social love and justice without the vertical basis of Christ and his Kingdom, which provides proof of real intrinsic and objective truth, we are left to other systems which at their base seem impersonal, inorganic, and improperly motivated. Any system of justice and tolerance becomes like a car; it takes on the value, character, and nature of whoever is behind the wheel.
Some pluralist argue that we are too fixated on defining a culture by physical boarders and stability and should allow for change and conflict, yet how can one properly govern when absent from defining, foundational principals? As opposed to a theonomic position were controversies would be resolved by the ultimate judge in the Holy Spirit with scripture being its voice, many advocate a more principled pluralistic stance claiming that each individual is under his or her own “life-zone” or sphere of sovereignty (Smith, 235). Many claim today that Christendom has stood in the way of progress and brought division and racism, yet it was a Europe that became so earnestly post Christian after 1885 that gave us war and fascism (Smith, 260). In our own country it has been hard enough to define love and justice regarding a physical war with elements abroad let alone a cultural one at home. We are left dancing, trying to plug up new tolerance issues that spring up, causing us to lose our ability to define anything truly harmful or our ability to effectively take substantial action. Typically in the West this cannot occur without the people first deciding that it can.
There maybe a need for a greater awareness and consideration for pluralism when defining or defending our theories of love and justice, yet if given preference, political correctness often begins to control decision-making patterns. It is the culture that symbolizes, develops, and makes sense of an individual’s attitudes, life experiences, and cosmic purpose (Netland, 87, 2001). Pluralism can indeed become a Novocain that puts our moral bearings and conscious to sleep. We see today a western society in which identity is fueled by consumerism, which has become the new primary source of self-expression (Netland, 85, 2001). In this environment, one’s affections, value system, and thought process is no longer based on the methods or merits of their existence, but on their perceived or prescribed acceptance and immediate expediency. This transforms our view and method of love and justice in society and allows us to give way to an unyielding optimism that the popular cultural can define love and justice economically, socially, and civically. In short, we or our government can make these elements work this time around. Many secularist today continue to argue that man intrinsically knows the basic laws of God toward civil conduct, yet without the recognition of the accompanying Christian source, reason, and particulars, history would seem to paint a different picture.
Despite this, there are groups who have no concern for or find traditional America unsettling and have encouraged a pluralist view of love and justice in all its forms. The common knowledge of any Judeo-Christian protestant ethic has been buried amidst a sea of detached impartiality both religiously and culturally. Unlike other countries, we have stopped asking for assimilation or have not really attempted to give others a defining or conscionable reason to. Consequently, we get the majority of young Americans interviewed on the streets saying that their country owes them and not vice versa, or radio call-ins stating that we are all just people living in American and that there is no such thing as a good or bad American. What on the surface appears to be an open and concerned pluralism can in fact possess a more covert and inclusive form of accommodation (Netland, 213, 2001). Only days ago, Great Brittan stepped back and allowed a male to practice Sharia law and take violent measure against his wife in an Islamic community. When a journalist questioned the state’s response, he was threatened with a hate crime (CBN, 07/24/08). No matter how pluralist we become, we can still take measures to keep hearts and minds and protect sovereign morality as opposed to deciding that all things posing under a banner of love should be seen as equally just in society.
Only a group of individuals divinely placed together by, for, and under the Father of Christ could come near a task of defending love and justice, and once that initiative is removed, then the great experiment of our country must fail. America has gone beyond tolerating difference and become a nation whose decisions are governed by what is perceived to be a collective notion of individual justice while the moral good is too relative to even address. Once individual priority becomes the only true virtue, even the concept of life itself becomes particularly personal. As previously noted, many Enlightenment-type thinkers claim to be free from tradition or a metaphysical good, yet in this movement the communal good and identity of its soul is left to be shaped by a new emergence of a secular state tradition (Johnson 39). Consequently, we now have our political leaders and lawmakers being cheered on talk shows claiming that things like homosexuality or abortion are not in our Bible, but rather that it only speaks of loving and embracing everyone. A possible future and extreme outcome of these kinds of mindsets is a total breakdown of previously held American ideals where global law and opinion dashes any nation claiming a sovereign base on such traditional truths.
Making parallels to those with different backgrounds or bridging gaps through a kingdom-centered approach to love and justice can indeed be beneficial but can only truly be effective if Christ remains as absolute savior and mediator. A missionary visiting one of the most remote and violent tribes found that the only just means of peace between tribes occurred when one offered their firstborn son to the other tribe. Enter the story and purpose of Christ and the village is now said to be 95% Christian. This heavenly justice makes men just. Anglican churchman Lesslie Newbigin puts forth the notion that the way to do battle against modernity and pluralism is to get the discussion away from morality as being strictly understood as personal values to one of public truth as the Christian faith is coherent with all that is (Karkkainen, 347). This has met criticisms even from Christians, yet seems necessary and feasible. Clearly a resurrection of expository preaching will be needed to once again make God and his word the defining crossroad of existence. The conscious is only akin to what it regards as the highest (Bright, 31).
Even now, there are those who are suggesting that only Christianity exhibits the selfless righteousness needed to reinvent or re-energize political theory to match the challenges of our contemporary society today and ensure the future ideals of love and justice. As a Christian, I would certainly concur. Nevertheless, it is also my opinion that we will never get the chance to do so short of Christ himself arriving and establishing such an arrangement. Like Adam and Eve, we have sought and exalted the value of our own ideas on the matter and have chosen for the basis of our decision-making experience, human reason, and insufficient knowledge over the revelation and character of God that was so plainly stated. The laypeople of this world are apparently ready to choose or buy into a different mode of thought processes entailing a world of less responsibility and more government, less spiritual confrontation and more human moderation.
In efforts to become more tolerant, we have adopted a “new age tolerance” and lost the focus or ability to discern those things not of God, and therefore are subject to be ruled by them. The more Christianity is pushed in the closet the more some other ethic of decision-making will fill the vacuum and the less we are able or willing to recognize the real agenda of the proposed attempts toward love and justice. If we decide that we will not hate the things God hates, then we will hate other things. We hate intolerance, green house gasses, and animal cruelty, which are good attitudes to have, but not when they are above or at the expense of human life or the spiritual casualties of an exposed soul. Only under the backdrop and influence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can there remain such an embodiment and admiration toward diversity, equality, and fairness needed to serve in a society where there is a balance of both toleration as well as order. Marx used his influence to infuse economic classes as the root of all human existence, Freud sculpted values largely from childhood experiences, while others claim that only historical circumstances rather than enduring truths are what fuel established ideas and theory of law (Stackhouse, 20-21). Just as other outlets brazenly advocate Freudian or Darwinian influence over public opinion, so too should we be able to use scripture or the dictates of a Judeo-Christian ethic to pursue and defend our own biblically supported proposals (Smith, 261).
Apologetics from a cultural or context specific approach must find it’s way in the mainstream more than it has as of late, which can only be accomplished if it reaches a higher place of value among those who call themselves Christians or who simply opt for a traditional America. This is perhaps one of the major reasons why we will find universalism and relativism so accepted and a pluralistic ethos taking charge of our decision-making. We cannot simply attack behaviors, for if we sideline God from the discussion we risk continually arguing over the symptoms and rules that do not make sense to a relativist, romanticist, do-what-you-feel culture(Bright, 5). Decisions based on social improvement aim only at symptoms or cracks while the wall tumbles. We must preach a Christianity that speaks to the heart and the need to dispel a modern pluralistic view that everything is only another socially specific construct to be managed or regulated. Something we very well may learn from the parable of the talents is that God has given us charge over everything he has given us, and he will ask what we did with those things, including our own civic duties.
1.) Clark, David K. and Robert V. Rakestraw. Reading in Christian Ethics: Volume 1 Theory and Method. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Baker Books. 1994.
2.) Stassen, Glen H. and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Dowers Grove, IL. InterVarsity Press. 2003.
3.) Bright, Brad. God is the Issue: Recapturing the Cultural Initiative. New Life Publications. Preach Tree City, GA. 2003.
4.) Johnson, Kristen Deede. Theology, Political Theory and Pluralism: Beyond Tolerance and Difference. United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. 2007.
5.) Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Rev. ed. Oxford, New York. Oxford University Press. 1999.
6.) Sandel, Michael. Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1982.
7.) MacIntyre, Alasdair. Whose Justice? Which Reality? Notre Dame, IN. University of Notre Dame Press. 1988.
8.) St. Augustine. Concerning the City of God Against the Pagans. Translated by Henry Bettenson. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin. 1972.
9.) Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives. Downers Grove, Illinois. InterVarsity Press. 2003.
10.) Hume, David. The Natural History of Religion. Stanford University Press. Stanford California. 1957.
11.) Netland, Harold A. Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1991.
12.) Netland, Harold A. Encountering Religious Pluralism: The challenge to Christian Faith & Mission. Downers Grove, Illinois. Intervarsity Press. 2001.
13.) Smith, Peter. Edited by Robertson, D.B. Love and Justice: Selections from the Shorter Writings of Reinhold Niebuhr. Gloucester, Mass. World Publishing Company. 1976.
14). Smith, Gary Scott. God and Politics: Four views on the Reformation of Civil Government. Phillipsburg, New Jersey. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. 1989.
15.) Gay, Peter. The Rise of Modern Paganism, vol. 1 of The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. New York: W.W. Norton. 1966.
16.)Werpehowski, William. American Protestant Ethics: and the Legacy of H. Richard Niebuhr. Washington D.C. Georgetown University Pres. 2002.
17.) Stackhouse Jr., John G. Humble Apologetics. Oxford University Press. New York. 2002.
18.) Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. Simon and Shuster. New York. 1987.
19.) TBN. Ideas presented in this paragraph were taken from American Heritage Series, hosted by historian David Barton, airing 06/25/08 at 1:00am on the Trinity Broadcast Network.
20.) CBN. Ideas presents in these two sentences were taken from a CBN broadcast, hosted by Pat Robinson airing on 07/24/08 on the Trinity Broadcast Network.

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