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Friday, October 28, 2011

How Can We Hope For Any Agreement?

When it comes to explaining why it works in rural Holland and USA to have people pay for milk and firewood by putting payments into a jar, or a bowl, without a clerk on hand to monitor the transaction while in India people would take the milk, the wood and the money, Vishal Mangalwadi says the reason the West went one way and India went another is because of different belief systems, or worldviews.

Mangalwadi identifies specific biblical premises that energized the modern educational system in the West, from the time of Luther and Calvin on. Namely, beliefs about a Creator who provided a universal moral code for our good. Beliefs that people who live in harmony with this code experience good results, and people who break it experience bad results--economic and otherwise.

At the same time, Mangalwadi decries the West's rejection of the Bible as a source of Truth. He says this development is based upon rejection of the very idea of "universal Truth." Consequently, my wife and I can go out on the streets of Seattle for over an hour and find lots of people willing to go on camera to say "right" and "wrong" is a matter of personal opinion, and find no one who mentions the Book or the One behind it. (See http://youtu.be/jsHiSLgTLv4.)

To suggest, or even imply, that there is one standard for morality (a biblical standard) that is universally "right" for everyone, is now considered a very "intolerant" idea. People who venture in this direction are likely to be branded Bible-thumping, finger-wagging bigots.

So now we are in a pickle. We lament that people do selfish and (if I can even use this word) "immoral" things in the business world, with the result that some lose their life savings, many have their retirement accounts dramatically reduced, lots of people are out of work, and public protests dominate the news. Yet, I don't hear many leaders critiquing the worldview changes that brought about the massive buy-in of the West to the notion that morality is "a personal, private thing."

How can we hope for any agreement on what our moral norms should be, when we no longer share a common standard for measuring those norms? Where is this "every-man-doing-what-is-right-in-his-own-eyes" trail we've been following since the 'values clarification' movement of the 60's taking us?

To be continued.

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