The Gagging of God

Currently, I’m working through D. A. Carson’s The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Here Carson interacts the various forms of pluralism in the western world. In the first chapter he introduces 3 types of pluralism.

1) Empirical or Factual Pluralism: This is a simple observation of the reality in which we live. As a fact, we live in a world that increasingly presents us with multiple visions of life, ethics, religion, politics, as they can packaged via different genders, cultures, nationalities, ages, etc.

2) Pluralism as a cherished reality: Here people see pluralism not only as a reality in which we all live, but a good, a thing to be sought after. It has turned pluralism the empirical fact into pluralism the cherished goal.

3) Philosophical Pluralism: Philosophical pluralism acknowledges the fact of pluralism (above) and, as a result, calls into question all and any positions that in the face of this fact dare to assert that it is the only true way of seeing something. For example, in the case of religion, pluralism in this form is the enemy of Christianity because it rejects the exclusivity of the claims of Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12) and teaches that all religions are either a) equally right in leading to salvation (however they define it), or b) equally wrong in that no religion is a true (!) representation of whoever or whatever God is.

According to Carson, it’s philosophical pluralism, the commitment to the equality of viewpoints, that leads to the various strands of relativism that we find in our day. he then spends time explaining the challenges of relativistic pluralism in the realms of hermeneutics, philosophy, and religion.

Carson has always been known for his literary candor, not pull punching and willing to say, “oh, please,” when necessary.

One area in which I hope Carson would have pushed a little more (and I haven’t finished the book, so I hope he’ll surprise me) is the positive contributions of deconstructionism for Christian apologetics. Of course, I say this because I’m deeply interested in the deconstruction of Jacques Derrida, and i’m big into Christian apologetics. I’m also convinced that while Derrida is seriously wrong on a number of points in his philosophy (if we could call it that), nevertheless their is much good in Derrida’s thought on how systems of thought and institutions collapse under their own ideological weight and internal inconsistencies. Hopefully, one day in the not too distant future I hope to write something on the topic.

Carson focuses on a number of critiques of Derrida and his project (most everything I agree with), but hasn’t yet (in my reading thus far) “plundered the Egyptians” and explored the ways in which Derrida has helpfully pointed out (or, more modestly, highlighted) the interpretative nature of all human understanding and the failure of modernism.


Posted on October 11, 2008, in Christian Worldview and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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