Engaging a pluralistic culture

Jonathan Merritt, in his recent article The Gospel Coalition and How (Not) to Engage Culture, provides an illustration of how a negative perception of pluralism (and any kind of tolerance of divergent views) is common among Christians. Merritt critiques how this takes shape within The Gospel Coalition, arguing that the manner in which the coalition (club?) demands truth has alienated people in the culture.

According to Merritt,

“You can’t transform a culture while you’re browbeating, rebuking, name-calling and gagging. That’s not a recipe for cultural engagement, but rather cultural enragement.

TGC has established a system where in order to be a part of the network, one has to believe a set of doctrines that are more specific than some denominations. Basically, you have to be a conservative Calvinist protestant who holds particular views about gender roles, reads the Bible in a certain way, understands human sexuality like they do, etc. If you don’t agree to these positions, you’re out . . .

The Gospel Coalition purports to ground all they do and say in the Bible’s teachings, but what do they make of the Scripture’s statement that there is wisdom in many counselors? Will they only listen to advice from those who affirm their preconceptions? And how does TGC understand the Apostle James’s encouragement for Christians to be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak?” Their behavior seems to do the opposite.”

The question raised by this article is one that has been central to Campus Edge’s discussion on pluralism: how can one can uphold a set of fundamental doctrines without becoming isolationist, turning into a “club,” and/or alienating those with differing views? At the same time, how does one listen well to “multiple counselors” (cf. Prov 11:14; 15:22) while also questioning and challenging whether what is being proclaimed is in line with what the Bible says and indeed “true, noble, right, lovely” (cf. Phil 4:8)?


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