In general, a conservative possesses an objective view of reality, or the existence of fundamental right and wrong. But more specifically, the Bible-believing conservative’s worldview is based on absolute truth. John 17:17 says, “Your word is truth.” Notice that the text does not say a truth, the truth, or is true — but “Your word is truth.” This passage, among others, confirms that the Bible is the divinely inspired, literal, and inerrant word of God. Therefore, if any idea is not supported by the Bible it’s clearly anti-Christian.
On the other hand, the liberal’s view of reality is based on a naturalistic and subjective point of view. Completely opposite of the absolute truth and authority of Scripture, naturalism (or atheism) holds that all truth is relative. Relativism is the view that there are no objective truths or values. In other words, there is no absolute right or wrong. Knowledge, truth, and morality are simply based on one’s personal opinions.
The Bible speaks of relativism . In the Old Testament Book of Judges, because there were no kings, Israel experienced trouble . . . everyone became his own authority and acted on his own opinions of right and wrong. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25). This produced horrendous results. As in today’s society, individuals, groups, and especially governments have made themselves the final authorities without reference to the God of the Bible.
With the liberal — since there exist no absolute truth or divine revelation — the philosophy of secular humanism fills the spiritual vacuum. Theologian Dr. Francis Schaeffer defined humanism this way: “Man is the measure of all things.” Humanism’s ultimate purpose is to save man and remake society. And for the humanist, salvation is an act of the state. They believe that civil government can restore man and society, and bring him into a paradise on earth. Therefore, social action is everything. Man must work to pass the right laws because his salvation depends upon it.
The Apostle Paul writes against any such philosophy of life based on human ideas and experiences. Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
Hand in hand with this relativistic and humanistic outlook is the concept of utilitarianism (or situational ethics). It is also at the core of pragmatism in politics today. Utilitarianism is an ethical system that determines morality by the outcome of an action rather than on moral absolutes. It accepts the view that the “end justifies the means.”
Unlike true Christian ethics which are based on specific rules and motives, utilitarianism is based on results. Human reasoning rather than an adherence to biblical principles guides the ethical decision making of a utilitarian. An example of the “end justifying the means” would be to steal or control, by force of law, one’s private property as a means to help alleviate poverty (i.e., government welfare programs) or to improve working conditions (i.e., compulsory unionization).
However, according to the Bible, the end does not justify the means. The means must always justify themselves. A particular act cannot be judged as good simply because it leads to a good consequence. The means must be judged by an objective and consistent standard of morality — the inerrant Word of God, the Bible.
It is said that “the road to destruction is paved with good intentions.” This is a fundamental flaw with an “end justifies the means” ethical system. Relativism provides a way for people to live moral lives apart from the Bible. Proverbs 14:12 says that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
Ray Harker is the founder of Liberty Lighthouse (www.godgov.org), a teaching ministry dedicated to God’s cultural mandate and a biblical worldview. Ray is a public speaker, ideological activist, and an expert on competing worldviews. He is author of the books God in Government and Solid Food for the Soul. Ray is currently enrolled in the Advanced Biblical Studies program at Liberty University.