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A New Dogma
By Dr. John Neihof
President of Wesley Biblical Seminary
The move from rejecting truth to embracing tolerance always trends toward a dogma. Nature abhors a vacuum. Rejecting truth creates a vacuum. Relativistic tolerance creates a vacuum. A more decisive dogma must be advanced to fill the space and allow for a perception of order.
In the midst of such a conflict of worldviews, not everyone has abandoned a quest for truth. So, truth, relativism, and the “new order” stand in stark contrast to one another. Worldviews stand in social and cultural tension, vying for supremacy.
The progression seems to follow this order. A traditional worldview holds sway. A new worldview is proposed. Tolerance is espoused as the virtue to balance the conflicting positions. Coexistence is the strategy. However, as the new worldview gains acceptance, the tensions inevitably build. Tolerance is no longer an adequate strategy for the proponents of the new worldview. Dogmatic demands for dominance assert themselves.
In the 1950s and 1960s, social and moral leftists challenged social and moral traditionalists to define reality. The cry was “Down with the system.” Out with the old morality. In with the new morality. And the new morality was simply the old immorality.
This tension persisted and grew in the United States of America and throughout much of the world. Tolerance was espoused as the new dogma of the moral leftists.
“No one reality is superior to another.”
“You have your reality, and I have mine,” quickly became “You have your truth and I have mine.”
Equal validity of alternative worldviews became the demand of a narrative-based, emotionally-oriented culture that insisted empathy was the key virtue of a tolerant humanity.
“All roads lead to the same place” became the theological platitude.
“Judge not,” became the practical distortion of the church and society.
However, culture and values continue moving. And Western culture is no longer a culture based in the postmodern religion of tolerance. Nature abhors a vacuum. Relativism creates a vacuum of uncertainty. People don’t know how to act. There is no script, no template, and no predictability. Human nature demands predictability.
Something must change.
Enter, the new dogmatism.
Actually, the new dogmatism has been around a long time. It is simply the wolf of the new dogmatism shedding the sheepish clothing of tolerance. The new dogma now bares its teeth and arches its back with a menacing snarl of attack.
The new dogmatics attack in Senate chambers, softball fields, streets, yards, airports, homes, families, and restaurants. Public space is fair game. Private space is fair game. Any space is fair game for the battlefield.
The new dogmatics utilize strategies of brutality, mockery, name-calling, ridicule, tactical pressure, terrifying action, threats, lies, and incessant focus upon any who stand between the new dogmatics and their quest to define the dominant worldview.
The strategy is not new.
Initially, a new worldview is introduced as an equally valid alternative. Tolerance is encouraged. But soon, the wolf of revolution rejects the sheepish goal of tolerance and howls its insistence to prevail.
The wolf is at the door.