Archive for the ‘Lesslie Newbigin’ Category

Modernity – value pluralism

August 17, 2009

It is one of the key features of our culture … that we make a sharp distinction between a world of what we call “values” and a world of what we call “facts.” In the former world we are pluralists; values are a matter of personal choice. In the latter we are not; facts are facts, whether you like them or not. It follows that, in this culture, the Church and its preaching belong to the world of “values.” … In this cultural milieu, the confident announcement of the Christian faith sounds like an arrogant attempt of some people to impose their values on others. As long as the Church is content to offer its beliefs modestly as simply one of the many brands available in the ideological supermarket, no offense is taken. But the affirmation that the truth revealed in the gospel ought to govern public life is offensive.

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Lesslie Newbigin, 1989, p.7

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The Fact Value Distinction

August 17, 2009

Middle-class parents want values to be taught to children in schools because life will be more pleasant if these values are adhered to. But they do not ask whether these values have any relation to the “facts” as taught in school. They do not ask whether it is possible to believe that concern for minorities, for the poor, for the disabled is important if the fact is that human life is the result of the success of the strong in eliminating the weak.  If it is a ‘fact’ that human life is the accidental result of the ruthless suppression of the weak by the strong, and it is not a fact that ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever,’ then ‘values’ have no factual basis.  They can only be the expression of what some people choose, and–inevitably–it will be the strong who prevail. The language of “values” is simply the will to power wrapped up in cotton wool. And we cannot use the language of right and wrong because it has no basis in the ‘facts’ as we understand them.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 1989, p.17