How well do the competing philosophies stand up?


In the light of the cross, how well do the raucous appeals of competing public philosophies stand up? What place does the cross have in communism? What place does the cross have in capitalism? Does systematic hedonism lead anyone to the cross? How about dogmatic pluralism? Will secular humanism lead anyone to the most astonishing act of divine self-disclosure that has ever occurred—the cross of Christ?

Does the elevation of the virtues of democracy lead men and women to the cross? In America, the founding fathers conceived of democracy as a way of establishing accountability by restricting power. If the populace as a whole did not like the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government, the ballot box provided a means of turfing them out. Strangely, modern politicians speak of “the wisdom of the American people,” as if special insight resides in the masses. That was not the perception of the founding fathers; it is certainly not a Christian evaluation. Doubtless, democracy is the best form of government where the populace is reasonably literate and shares many common values, but even under these conditions the majority vote does not always display great wisdom. It is the best way to limit power and make government more or less responsive; it is not the best way of determining right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and bad. Does democracy itself lead anyone to the cross? Is it not always wrong to equate “the American way,” or, more broadly, any democratic system, with the gospel?

Paul’s point is that no public philosophy, no commonly accepted “wisdom,” can have enduring significance if its center is not the cross. Whatever the merits or the demerits of these various systems, they exhaust their resources on merely superficial levels. They do not reconcile men and women to the living God, and nothing is more important than that. They cannot uncover God’s wisdom in the cross, and if that is hidden all other “wisdom” is foolish.

D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry