Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Emergent Conversations

When Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl sat down to write “Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air,” I don’t think they were thinking about talking to Christians about Christian doctrine. Sadly, I find that their strategies recommended in their book more useful to me when conversing with the Emergents than I do when conversing with Athiests and New Age Pagans. It’s really quite sad.

On pages 145 and 146 of their book, they offer this strategy, one I have used when discussing the Emergent Church with it’s advocates:
“You Shouldn’t Force Your Morality on Me”

When confronted with the line, “You shouldn’t force your morality on me,” simply ask, “Why not?”
This response is effective for two reasons. First, it’s only two words; it’s simple and easy to remember. Second, it makes the one challenging you justify his objection, putting the ball back in his court where it belongs. He’s going to have a hard time explaining why you shouldn’t impose your view without imposing his morality on you. This forces him to state a moral rule while simultaneously denying that moral rules exist.

This same tactic is played out in the following short dialogues:

“You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”
“If you don’t believe in it then, by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”


“You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
“I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
“You have a right to your opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
“Is that your opinion?”
“Then why are you forcing it on me?”
“But you’re saying that only your view is right.”
“Am I wrong?”
“Is that your view?”
“They you’re saying only your view is right which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”
“Don’t push your morality on me.”
“Why? Don’t you believe in morality?”
“Sure, but I believe in my morality, not yours.”
“Well then, how do you know what’s moral?”
“I think people should decide individually.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing. And I’m deciding that you’re immoral. What’s the problem? Live and let live is your value, not mine.”


“You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
“Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like you’re telling me I’m wrong.”
“You are.”
“Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me. Why are you forcing your morality on me?”


I used this tactic on a relativist who objected when I moralized about his personal choice of homosexuality. “You can’t push your morality on me,” he charged.

“As a point of information,” I responded, “I’m the only one who can talk about morality in this conversation and make sense, because I believe in an ethical system that allows judgments. You’re a relativist, so you can’t even say my judgments are wrong.”

Notes and quotes taken from
By Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl
Baker Books, 1998