Relativism Ultimately Results in StatismR. C. Sproul, Lifeviews: Make a Christian Impact on Culture and Society (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1986), 126–127.
Pluralism and relativism have no possibility of being true because, from the beginning, the very possibility of truth itself is eliminated. If everything is true, then nothing is true. The word truth is now empty of meaning. That is why modern man finds himself in a dilemma. He is thrown into chaos long-term, and man cannot continually live in intellectual chaos. There is a sense in which our present culture, more often than in any other period in history, is “up for grabs.” When this emptiness has happened in the past, something has come to fill that vacuum. Relativism is ultimately intolerable. What will come to this vacuum is some form of statism because something has to bring unity. The good of the “state” will become the ultimate point of unity.
The rapid growth of the centralized state is happening before our eyes in the United States. Consider the areas where people of America formerly looked to God for their security, their meaning, and their decision making and now, instead, they look to the state. This eventually becomes statism, where the state becomes the goal of life. The state becomes the reason for us to live. The state unifies, transcends, becomes absolute, and is eternal.
The state steps in and says we are going to be united. How? By going to the same schools, by learning the same things, by saying the same words. At the extreme, look at the nation of China, a uniformity by enforced unity. We may say that is the very opposite of pluralism. No, that is the result of pluralism. That is the result of the loss of transcendent unity. The God whom we worship is a God who brings unity, but at the same time preserves diversity. We all have a sinful tendency to force everybody else to conform to us. Even in the church we see this tendency. I am a teacher and I want to exalt teaching as the only significant gift of the Holy Spirit. You’re an evangelist and you have no time for the teacher. Yet God has said one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism – but a diversity of gifts and talents, a diversity of personality. Your humanness is beautiful in the intricacies of its diversity, but your humanness also finds an ultimate point of reference in the character of God. Take away that ultimate reference point and humanity itself is demeaned.
We cannot live on this side of the wall alone. We are going to either have God on the other side of that wall or we will substitute the state in His place. I challenge you to find one culture in the world where that has not happened. That’s what terrifies me.
The American government faces a serious crisis. People are demanding from the state more than the state can give. People are looking to the state for salvation. Unfortunately, the state does not have the equipment to save a fallen race. The state exists on this side of the wall. It can never provide ultimate unity for our plurality unless it becomes absolute. Relativism provides a moral vacuum that screams to be filled. As nature abhors a vacuum, totalitarian governments love one. They rush in to fill a vacuum.
I also remember the following story being conveyed on the radio by either R. C. Sproul sr. or his son. Sproul jr. said:
My father tells a story about sharing a cab ride to the airport with the late Dr Schaeffer after they had spoken together at a conference and my dad, not wishing to miss the opportuninty, asked Dr Schaeffer: “What is it that you are most worried about for the church in the future?”
And without hesitation Dr Schaeffer said, “Statism”. Now when we think Stateism, our tendency is to think, high taxes. Our tendency is to think strictly in terms of day-to-day headaches that come from the State. But Stateism as an ‘-ism’ is so much broader than that. It communicates the view of the State as god. The metaphor of the state determines reality, the state determines morality, the state determines teleology, the state determines everything. And that works itself out in ways that don’t look like Stateism, but really are...