The Myth of Coexistence
We have all seen it – the bumper sticker with the word “CO-EXIST”. Rather than being spelled out in normal type, it uses the symbols of various religious or social persuasions to form the letters. The Muslim crescent is the C, the Jewish star is the X, the Christian cross the T, and so on. The theme seems nice – a peaceable sentiment. All religions are just one letter in a long chain, which, if linked together, can form meaning and cohesion for society.
This “bumper sticker theology” is, of course, exactly the message we (Judeo-Christians) are being bombarded with on a constant basis from the other two primary houses of thought that currently dominate the world’s stage (Islamists and Secularists):
· The militant secularists tell us that the diversity of our ideas is our strength, insisting that they really believe that to be so, though their idea of “tolerance” is appearing these days to be anything but tolerant.
· The radical Islamists infiltrating the Judeo-Christian institutions of Western Civilization are telling us the same thing about diversity and tolerance – not because they truly believe it, but because they know it’s what we want to hear.
The irony is that the traditional values under assault in this nation (and beyond) are derived from the one genuinely tolerant worldview there is: our Judeo-Christian foundation.
This reality is unpleasant… Wouldn’t it be easier to slip back into a misinformed haze and believe everything will somehow work itself out? And if not, what am I advocating? Intolerance?
I am pointing out the undeniable truth that if we continue to allow the values of tolerance and multiculturalism to be hijacked and redefined by those who only wish to do away with them altogether, we are very soon going to find ourselves living under the same conditions we came to this country to escape. The well-meaning West has unsuspectingly walked away from the very foundations that gave it strength at its core, and now, a man-made, unattainable idealism called coexistence is about to lure us away from any vestige of freedom and genuine tolerance that remains on the earth.
The Real World
I want to offer that, after being raised in America (this melting pot of pluralism and multiculturalism), and after having spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East (where cultural and religious walls and barriers are as thick as they are high), I am concerned that we as Americans often make the mistake of interpreting our world through a very, well, American lens. To assume everyone feels the way we do about civil liberties is a catastrophic mistake.
We tend to think that the rest of the world really is like Epcot Center.
Unlike the last experience you had at Disney, the reality is that, around our world, horrible – really horrible – things are happening. Slavery is rampant in the world today. The brainwashing of children to become suicide bombers. Honor killings and female genital mutilation in the name of religion. These and other horrific practices are commonplace in many parts of the world. And they are being carried out not by a few lone individuals, but rather are fostered and even legislated by a dehumanizing form of group thought that controls societies.
It’s time we admit something. The parties coming to the table (Radical Islam, Secularism, and Judeo-Christianity) have irreconcilable differences. We must realize that the horrors we are addressing are not circumstantial issues or mere governmental policies. What is fueling them is an ideological issue that runs deep into the soil and roots of people groups around the world. The fact is that we cannot coexist with those who refuse to coexist at all.
There are several other significant reasons why coexistence isn’t possible among these three contending houses. One main reason is that this interpretation of coexistence does not allow for a dominant culture.
Superficial coexistence is not attainable because it does not allow for a dominant culture. Without one, true, agreed-upon standard for judging cultural expressions, multiculturalism becomes a distorted reality that cannot ultimately survive. By default, there must be a dominant culture or house of thought governing any given society, or else nothing will hold it together and it will crumble from lack of cohesion. Not every perspective within that culture must embrace the full extent of the principles by which it is governed – on the contrary, a minority group may even benefit from those governing principles without adopting the full cultural paradigm of the majority. But as long as a benevolent culture is allowed to prevail, its uplifting benefits will guide and protect the everyday life of all its groups of people.
What the dominant culture adopts as its position regarding the existence of God will, for better or worse, set the tone for a whole society. The way some societies view God as violent invariably leads them to promote and commit acts of violence against those of a different mindset. By contrast, others, like the majority of those in the Judeo-Christian house, understand God to be a God of love, who values the dignity and worth of all human beings.
America, at its core, was founded and developed within a Judeo-Christian ethos, or worldview. I am not going to debate whether Thomas Jefferson was a Christian (doubtful) or a Deist (probable), but the fact of the matter is there is a plethora of evidence that proves, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that this nation’s framework has been based on the moral code of the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
This biblical worldview has framed what we know today as Western Civilization – from America to Argentina to Britain to Italy to Australia. And, Israel. But all that is changing.
The Tree of Life
Consider how this insight from C.S. Lewis (in The Great Divorce) describes this dynamic perfectly:
“We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move toward unity but away from it…” 1
Humankind as a whole is headed toward a great divide. An irrevocable split. An un-mendable parting of ways. The distorted values of tolerance and multiculturalism are being used by those who would convince us it is possible to coexist in peace forever without God. However, this is far from reality.
The myth of coexistence, like all myths, will one day be relegated to the realm of bedtime fairytales and childhood fantasies. Only the truth will remain.
For more on this topic, check out Bishop Stearns’ book, No We Can’t: Radical Islam, Militant Secularism, and the Myth of Coexistence, available from the EWStore.
1 C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), VIII.