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There is no such thing as the “More Party.” They do not run campaigns seeking to unseat sitting officials of the “Less Party.” Both “more” and “less” need more context and less ambiguity. We need to know what we are getting more or less of. In like manner, the question of pluralism begs a previous question — plural what? What is it the pluralists want more of? On the surface it might seem that what they want more of is religions. One religion isn’t enough. We need to construct, according to these people, a world with plenty of room for Hindus and Hottentots, for Muslims and Mormons, for Buddhists and Baptists. When we look deeper, however, we run headlong into an inescapable spiritual reality, that every religion in the end is all about authority. What they want is multiple authorities. If there is, in the end, only one authority, and I am not that authority, then I am under authority. But, if there are lots of authorities, which is another way of saying there is no authority, then I am free to rule my own world. Then there is not only room for Shintoism, but for Sheila-ism. There is not only room for Roman Catholicism, but for R.C. Sproulicism.

When the apostle Paul writes in Romans 1 that the natural man suppresses the knowledge of God in unrighteousness, that he denies what he knows, we understand that he does this so that he might continue to sin without fear of reprisal. The natural man constructs a view of the world wherein he never need fear facing the judgment of God. This construct not only will actually require the facing of the judgment of God, but is in fact already a judgment of God. It is the very foolishness that God gives their minds over to.

But what about us? Pluralism isn’t the exclusive province of the unbeliever. We who profess the lordship of Christ, more often than not, in turn find pluralism appealing. We who have been given new hearts presumably are about the business of putting to death our desire for self-rule. We ought, it would seem, to be of the “Less Party.” I fear our motives are scarcely more honorable than our unbelieving friends’ motives. It is a different twist on the question of authority. They will not affirm the lordship of Christ over them because they fear that Christ will reign over them. We are fearful of affirming the lordship of Christ over all things, including our neighbors, because we are afraid of our neighbors ruling over us. Pluralism is a half-hearted attempt at a compromise of convenience — we won’t condemn you if you won’t condemn us. We won’t say you are wrong, if you won’t say that we are wrong. We won’t find your views backwards and repugnant, if you won’t find our views backwards and repugnant. What a deal? And all it costs us is the central and first affirmation of our own faith: Jesus is Lord. All we have to give up to win peace with our neighbors is the proclamation of the Gospel.

Jesus is all too aware of our fears. He knows how painful it is to be scorned by the broader culture. He knows what its like to have a single dominant religion find your religion to be foolish and superstitious. He has experience in suffering under a single monolithic power. He’s entered into this reality and conquered it. And He commands of us that we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. He commands that we put our worries away, and trust in Him. 

We evangelicals make the foolish mistake of thinking that when enough souls decide to make Jesus the Lord of their lives, that He will become the Lord of all things. The reality is that Jesus is already Lord over all things. His kingdom, strictly speaking, does not expand, for even now it knows no borders. He does not, therefore, engage in some sort of power sharing arrangement with other pretenders to His throne, whether they be false deities, or those who falsely worship them. His lordship is not something we accomplish. It is something we recognize and submit to. It is not something we negotiate; it is something we proclaim.

That Jesus is Lord, however, is not some grim reality that we proclaim with all the grace of a desert prophet. It is something we proclaim with all the grace of joy. It was our Lord Himself, after all, who commanded us to “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It’s over. The kingdom is here, and Jesus has won. What fools we are to rush off to negotiate with the enemy to save our skins. 

His victory, of course, does not mean that we rush off to kill all our enemies. It means instead that we are to love them. Our love for them must be strong enough, however, to tell them with both passion and compassion, that their hopes are in vain, that their gods are mute and dumb, and that there is only one name under heaven by which a man must be saved. Our love for them does not present the Christian Gospel as an option. It does not lead us to argue that it’s a good option that has worked well for us. Our love instead commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel, lest they perish. Our love calls on all our enemies to kiss the Son, lest He be angry and they perish along the way (Ps. 2:12).  

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The Parable of the Soils

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From the June 2008 Issue
Jun 2008 Issue