Category Archives: evangelicalism

What Are They Doing With The Church?

At a pastors’ conference last November I picked up of book entitled, What Are They Doing with the Church?: The Rise and Fall of the Brazilian Evangelical Movement (Mundo Cristão, 2008). The author, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, is a Presbyterian pastor and chancellor of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University. The material of the book originated in large part from posts at the blog O Tempora, O Mores, which the author shares with two of his colleagues. From among the titles presented at the conference bookstore, I selected this one with two criteria in mind: First, I wanted to read something that would help me understand the church in Brazil. Second, I wanted to read something published originally in Portuguese, not translated from English. There is little point in me wrestling in Portuguese to read what already exists in English.

I hope, when finished to write a proper review of this book, but since I can usually only read when waiting in line, for example, at the bank, that may be a while in coming. So for now, here is a snippet I found valuable:

In chapter five, “Myths of Pluralism,” Augustus Nicodemus levels a critique against pluralism as embraced by theological liberals, neo-orthodox and libertines. He distinguishes between empirical pluralism, which merely recognizes that God has created the world with a magnificent display of diversity of cultures and ideas, and philosophical pluralism, which denies the existence of absolute truths, and asserts that contradictory truth claims may be equally valid at the same time.

Pluralism as an acknowledgment of diversity is a good thing, but Augustus Nicodemus lists nine difficulties he finds with pluralism as a worldview.

I translate here difficulty #3:

The concept of absolute pluralism is internally inconsistent. The affirmation, “there is not one right idea, but many,” can be understood as just one of these many ideas, relative and therefore not valid for everyone at the same time. I find it interesting that the defenders of pluralism are unanimous in defending the existence of pluralism and the non-existence of absolute truths. Strictly speaking, unanimity is incompatible with pluralism. If everyone agrees that there is not one right idea, but many, and truth is dependent upon the point of view of each individual, this unanimity is already an exception to the rule (p. 45).
[View original blog post from 24 February 2007.]

Unanimity is incompatible with pluralism. This is to state the obvious, it arises from the very definition of pluralism, but it is also the Achilles’ heel that invalidates the whole philosophical system.