I said, in a previous post, that a secular or pagan society does not have the resources to deal effectively with the issues facing us, without collapsing into chaos or cementing into control. I want to elaborate on what some of the gaps are in the secular worldview, and how these become evident as a pagan society grapples with injustice. Two elements in particular come to mind, both of which are found in the passage I looked at yesterday, Colossians 3:1-11.
The first is that the pursuit of justice is properly holistic, and a partial pursuit of justice is easily twisted. The Christian worldview understands justice in the context of God’s righteousness, and therefore promotes a holistic justice in line with the character of God. But a pagan culture takes a subjective approach to justice, built on a confusion of philosophies and social theories. Thus we see the same people calling for justice in one area, while they promote wickedness in another. Exhibit A is the American celebrity class, who call for economic justice (while enjoying lavish lifestyles), even as they frequently advance the cause of abortion; exhibit B is the Black Lives Matter organization, which calls for racial justice even while they zealously advance sexual immorality.
In contrast, the Christian worldview calls for a holistic embrace of righteousness; racial unity comes in the context of the entire mortification of the flesh, including “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires…greed…anger, rage, malice, slander…filthy language” and lying (Col. 3:1-9, NIV). Our culture would like to pursue racial justice, while holding on to most, if not all of, the rest of these sins. Justice will not be the result. That is one of the lessons of the past weeks. It seems that the same cultural currents running against retributive justice for criminals have turned suddenly warm to unjust and indiscriminate retribution towards the innocent. That is a consequence of having an understanding of justice untethered to divine righteousness.
The second crippling gap in the secular worldview–and it is connected to the first–is the gross inadequacy of its anthropology. They seek racial justice, but they have rejected the truth about humanity. A culture that does not grasp the logic of human dignity will find new ways to denigrate people. A culture that doesn’t know what men and women are cannot advance human flourishing. This shows itself in the strikingly naïve call to disband police–in an area that has just been ravaged by horrifying rioting, arson, and looting–with the rosy prediction that peace and mutually supportive community will spring up in the absence of any law enforcement. Such policies can only be advanced by people who are ignorant of human fallenness, and think that sin can be remedied solely by education, psychology, housing, and community.
The Christian worldview, by contrast, recognizes that human dignity transcends all differences between us, because we are created in the image of God. This is why there is retributive justice, and not indiscriminate retribution. We also recognize that humans are fallen and now have a sin nature, and that laws (and their enforcement) are necessary. And we recognize that the hope for true and supportive community, for love that transcends all boundaries, is found in a new humanity in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to save us from sin. The hope for racial reconciliation is found in a Christian anthropology, which proclaims that in Christ, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (v.11).