Each era of world history has not only its own notable personalities and events, but also its own leading ideas. These ideas shape every sphere of man’s life in the world so that the religion, ethics, politics, literature, and music of each historical period are all governed by the intellectual side of man. We are well acquainted with the sixteenth century Reformation and how the recovery of biblical truth transformed both the religious and political life of Europe. Or we think of the seventeenth century Enlightenment and how European society was largely restructured according to the ideas of that movement.
The leading ideas of each historical epoch also have their own terminology. Widely accepted ideas must be formulated, and thus they come to be expressed in certain phrases and statements that assume universal form. For example, the leading ideas of the Reformation came to be expressed in such terms as justification by faith alone, the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers, to name but a few. Alternatively, one of the great terms or watchwords of the Enlightenment was rational enquiry (by which was meant that human reason alone would decide every question).
Our day too has its leading ideas with their own terminology. You know the terms; they include diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance, equality, and LGBT rights. These are the watchwords or slogans of the Western world today. It is my contention that as Christians we need to become a good deal more self-conscious about these terms; specifically we need to do so in order to appreciate the dangerous, deceptive, and wicked thinking that lies behind them.
Before proceeding, it is well to point out that we have no problem with such terms as diversity and inclusiveness in themselves. As Reformed believers we understand, for example, that in the very being of Jehovah God there is both unity and diversity: there is one divine being and yet three distinct persons. We understand also God’s command that man should disperse over the face of the earth, that there be a diversity of nations (Genesis 1:28). From this rich diversity our God gathers a catholic church. Oh yes, we believe in diversity. The diversity that God creates and which we see in the “one, holy, catholic church” is a beautiful thing. Neither do we have a problem with inclusiveness. We include in our fellowship all those who confess the truth and live a godly life. I am taking issue with the current use of such terms by the ungodly in the advancement of their anti-Christian agenda.
The terms mentioned above are applied to every aspect of life today. Public and national life, we are told, must respect diversity and promote inclusiveness. Thus, for example, the US military recently dropped its ban on practicing homosexuals and lesbians serving in its ranks. Thus a small bakery in one US state that refused to bake a cake celebrating a sodomite “marriage” was prosecuted and forced out of business. Recently on a Saturday the leading English soccer teams displayed the rainbow colors on armbands and boot laces as a very public display of support for LGBT “rights”.
All of these things have been done in the name of diversity, inclusiveness, and associated terms. Obviously such terminology is very powerful; after all, our whole society is presently being transformed in line with it. My reason for drawing attention to this is that these terms are not neutral. That is how those who promote these concepts like to portray things; and that is how, wittingly or unwittingly a majority of people in our nation have come to see things.
As Reformed Christians, however, we must subject all beliefs including their associated terminology to the judgment of the word of God. In doing so we will see that the terminology of our day and its application to every area of society is by no means neutral, but is the expression of a rabidly antichristian and wicked idea. The controlling idea behind every sphere of western society today is the philosophy of postmodernism. I have come to believe that postmodernism is one of (if not the greatest) of the devil’s lies. It may even be the culmination and goal of all Satan’s false ideas by which he deceives countless millions today.
If you are not familiar with the term, you are certainly familiar with the central claim of postmodernism: there are no absolutes. By this is meant there is no absolute right or wrong; everything is merely a matter of individual perception. You do not like same-sex marriage and may even think it wrong; I am completely fine with it; both are a matter of perception and therefore neither is right or wrong.
I would be confident in saying that every Protestant Reformed believer reading this article would recognize and reject the example I cited above. You would say quite rightly that same-sex marriage is contrary to the Bible and is therefore wrong; you would go farther and declare it to be grossly sinful, an abomination; and in this you would be absolutely right.
But let me take you to the college classroom, a far cry from the safe confines of your Protestant Reformed family. Or let me take you to your new job where you are surrounded by youthful zealots of postmodernism thoroughly indoctrinated by the public school system. When you let it be known that you believe same-sex marriage is wrong you are met with howls of protest and sentiments such as these: “What right have you to make such a claim?”; “you do not accept diversity”; “your position is bigoted and long out-of-date”; “you should really be ashamed of yourself and learn to be more tolerant.” How are you going to answer? In such circumstances, and let me tell you I have experienced them, we can easily be put “on the back foot” and become defensive.
And speaking of the college classroom, lest anyone reading this article is tempted to think that I am engaging in mere quibbles over words—that I am playing a game of semantics—let me take you to a college classroom in which at least some of you may even be sitting. Let me take you to Calvin College, Grand Rapids. If you go to their official website and open the page on “Diversity and Inclusion,” you will see the terminology of diversity that I have outlined; you will also see that this terminology has exactly the meaning that I described.
On one of the webpage links you may read a lengthy report adopted by Calvin College in 2014 which fully commits the college to the wicked diversity agenda. On page eleven, the report declares that a proper definition of diversity “should recognize the existence of differences other than race and ethnicity including difference of gender, ability, socio-economic status, and sexual identity.” Sexual identity refers to homosexuality and heterosexuality. And, of course, gender now refers not only to feminism, but also to trans-genderism.
It is clear from the webpage that Calvin College implements its diversity agenda across every aspect of college life. For Calvin College, diversity includes LGBTQ “rights”. This is clear from the report just quoted; but it is also clear—shamefully so—from the upcoming events listed on the webpage: there the college promotes “A Primer on LGBTQ” rights. This event, to be held on campus in March 2017 (and for which you may sign up on the webpage), will introduce participants to LGBTQ rights and assess how welcoming Calvin is for LGBTQ students. Does someone still say that I engage in mere quibbles, that I play a game of semantics?
It is my fervent prayer and desire that especially the youthful readers of Beacon Lights be able see today’s diversity language for what it is—a great delusion; or to put it even more simply, a big lie. To quote the writer of Proverbs: “For [as a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (23:7). If we think a lie in our hearts, we will also speak lies. The terminology of diversity is a deceit and is rooted in the false thinking (philosophy) of postmodernism. Hence, we need to be able to debunk this false thinking, showing that it is both intellectually incoherent and unethical.
Postmodernism is the idea that there is no such thing as truth. By truth is meant any statement or belief that is absolute and universal. Accordingly, truth is not and can never be objective; truth is always a matter of individual perception. Perhaps an example will help: recently I overheard a conversation between two people in which it was the burden of one participant to say that we really should stop arguing about Calvinism and Arminianism. Calvinism and Arminianism are both true; they are two sides of the one coin; one teaches the sovereignty of God, the other teaches the responsibility of man; they are merely different perspectives of the one truth. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth: Calvinism and Arminianism stand in a relation of outright contradiction, so that Calvinism is the truth and Arminianism is the lie. But the position of the debater described above makes truth relative—one may be an Arminian and hold to the truth, or one may be a Calvinist and also hold to the truth. The mind boggles, but this is precisely the kind of nonsense to which postmodernism leads.
Of course if there is no such thing as truth, then neither can there be any absolutes, for nothing is absolutely true (or false). It is not hard to expose the incoherence of this position: If there are no absolutes, then the statement “there are no absolutes” cannot be absolutely true! Postmodernist philosophy is logically absurd—it asserts there are no absolutes at the same time claiming that this assertion is absolutely true! And to think that all of this passes for the most profound wisdom—and is by far the majority opinion in every public college today—only shows how the devil has blinded the mind of those who believe not the gospel.
But postmodernism is not only intellectually incoherent (to put it simply, it is nonsense); it is also a wicked rejection of Almighty God and his truth. Postmodernism is no different from any other false philosophy in that it has its roots in the totally depraved mind of man: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” Genesis 6:5.
Furthermore, every false way of thinking and every rejection of God’s truth is implied in our first parents’ sin. The sin of eating the forbidden fruit was a sin of both mind and will. The devil appealed to the mental faculty of man when he suggested to Eve that by disobeying God’s command both she and her husband would “know good and evil” and that “your eyes shall be opened” (the eyes of their understanding). The devil is very clever, and he knows full well something that we ignore at our peril, namely, that the light of God’s truth enters a person via the mind. The mind is the faculty by which either the light of truth or the darkness of the lie dwells within the whole man.
In effect, the devil’s lie was that our first parents could have true knowledge of God and themselves in relation to God without divine revelation. In other words, they could dispense with the authority of God’s word and still have true knowledge of God and all things. By their own unaided reason they could investigate the world and themselves and thus create their own system of ethics (“knowing good and evil”). The knowledge thus acquired would be “truth” for them; but it would not necessarily be truth for anyone else; consequently truth becomes subjective—a matter of individual perception—and subjective truth is no truth at all. My point here is that postmodern thought is not new; it was essentially the lie of the devil already at the beginning: truth is not something absolute reflecting the mind of Jehovah God who has all knowledge and is thus the arbiter of truth, but is rather something subjective and relative.
Since the thinking that lies behind the terminology is incoherent, so also is the terminology itself. Those who promote such concepts as diversity and inclusiveness today like to make us believe they mean them absolutely. If you were to question such people about their advocacy of diversity as to whether they mean every religious belief and every sexual expression, none excepted, they would answer without hesitation, “Yes, of course! Every religious belief is equally valid and every sexual orientation is legitimate”. This all sounds very tolerant and broadminded. But what about biblical Christianity which holds that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that every religion that denies this is by definition false and is consequently under the condemnation of God? Is that view also “equally valid”? In other words, can those who promote diversity accept as equally valid that belief which alone claims to be right? Their answer will be “we cannot accept this belief because it denies diversity?” And so you see their high-sounding claim for diversity is a sham and a fraud: they loudly proclaim how they accept and tolerate every religious belief and yet here is one—biblical Christianity—they will under no circumstances respect nor tolerate.
Protestant Reformed youth are, thankfully, shielded from the wicked philosophy of postmodernism. Our churches still hold to the inspiration and authority of the Bible; for us the Bible is truth regardless what men may think of it: “thy word is truth” (John 17:17b). The same belief in the authority of Holy Scripture is held in our Christian schools and in our homes. For this we are thankful. We love the truth of God and are determined not to sell it. But our young people need to be prepared for the day when they will attend college and/or enter the workplace. There they will most certainly be confronted with the terminology of diversity and inclusiveness. I should rather put it more urgently: our covenant youth need to be readied for battle; we must see to it that they are skilled in wielding the sword. That sword is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
Protestant Reformed young people, make sure you are skilled in the use of that sword! You are going to need it. The battle lines are sharply drawn today. The wicked philosophy of postmodernism and its associated corrupt terminology represent a frontal assault of the enemy. The assault is all the more dangerous in the form that it assumes—it wears the garb of tolerance, diversity, and broadmindedness. Its disciples want you to think that any opposition to the diversity agenda renders you intolerant, bigoted, and narrow-minded. They mean to put you on the defensive; and in this way to have you give up the antithesis (the sharp opposition to the lie). You are engaged—as perhaps never before in the history of the church—in mortal combat for yourself, your church, and for the truth of your God. In the strength of our God, may you do exploits.