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Ethics, Reformation and Development in the Caribbean

02:02:16 (a)
Second Annual Ethics Lecture,
JTS/CGST Public Lecture Series 
By Gordon Mullings




ABSTRACT

In today’s Caribbean, as the post-modern age of intolerant “tolerance” dawns, an ethical, prophetic voice will face the accusation: “How dare you impose your intolerant, hypocritical, outdated, patriarchal, unworkable ‘morals’ on us!” Therefore, we are challenged to seize the ethical, intellectual and cultural initiative in our region through providing prophetic leadership. To do this effectively, we must first identify, exemplify and articulate a sound Christian ethical framework for reformation and development.  This paper therefore begins from the Golden Rule [GR] (in the less specifically religious form of Kant’s Categorical Imperative [CI]) and its application to the Bruntland Sustainable Development [SD] Principle, and infers that a main reason for failed development initiatives over the past generation has been the lack of clear and consistent ethical reflection, leading to policies and actions that are insufficiently constrained by recognition of their likely impacts and consequences on other persons and the environment, especially on the poor, the powerless and the voiceless — all of particular concern to God.  In turn, this tendency has been shaped by the dominance of relativistic and secularist thinking in Western culture.  So, by highlighting the self-referential inconsistencies in the underlying materialist worldview, the door has been opened for prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership, towards reformation and the truly sustainable development of our region.  In that pursuit, the importance of the Church’s prophetic voice and its Christocentric fulness vision have been explored, and the need has been identified for a reformation initiative involving repentance, renewal, and fresh vision towards transformational leadership.  To give institutional focus to this effort, the paper proposes the foundation of a regional Institute for Discipleship, Reformation and Development.



CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION
                                                                                                                                  

1.             Background: Ethics, Sustainability and the Caribbean’s Development Dilemmas            

2.             Diagnosis: Hypocrisy, Post-Modernity, and the need for Reformation     

--> Addressing the secularist challenge                            

3.             Paul’s Mars Hill Strategy: Prophetic Intellectual Leadership                                              

4.             Seizing the Cultural Initiative:

5.             Implementing the Mars Hill Strategy:                      

CONCLUSIONS                                                                                                                                  

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION                                                                                                    

REFERENCES & READINGS       
                                                                                                   


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INTRODUCTION: In today’s Caribbean, as the post-modern age of intolerant “tolerance” dawns, a Christian voice raised out of concern for knowing and doing truth, love, right and good will immediately face several pointed rebukes.  In particular, such a prophetic, ethical voice will face the accusation: “How dare you impose your intolerant, hypocritical, outdated, patriarchal, unworkable ‘morals’ on us!”[1]

However, at the same time, we read that “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain.  Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain,”[2] and that we serve One who expects us “to act justly . . . to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” One who therefore came in love, descending, serving, healing, liberating, dying for our sins, rising and ascending “in order to fill all things.”[3]

Therefore, we are challenged to seize the ethical, intellectual and cultural initiative, especially through contributing a faithfully prophetic voice to the national and regional development dialogue, so that the Caribbean will not “build in vain.” To do this effectively, we must first identify, exemplify and articulate a soundly Christian ethical framework for reformation and development.

In that pursuit, it is the thesis of this preliminary contribution that our region’s true hope for sustainable national and regional development lies in the Christocentric, fulness vision-based[4] reformation of all facets of life and culture in the Caribbean.

1.       Background: Ethics, Sustainability and the Caribbean’s Development Dilemmas

Now, Ethics is concerned with critical reflection on the principles and practice of right conduct, for individuals, communities, institutions and nations. Consequently, it has much to say to the Caribbean region as we confront the development challenges that have dominated public policy and community life over the past generation, and which are now being intensified by environmental[5] and sustainability constraints.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative [CI] and its application in the Bruntland Commission’s [1987] definition of sustainable development [SD] are therefore an excellent beginning point for ethical reflections on reformation and development in the Caribbean

1.  The “first formulation” of the CI reads: “I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law.”[6] That is, if one always acts towards other persons in such a way that it would be appropriate for one’s example and underlying moral principle to be acted on universally,[7] then one’s actions would be morally sound.  (That is, the CI is a way of saying that we must consistently respect the value, rights and dignity of persons; thus it counterbalances our natural tendency to make self-serving exceptions to moral principles.)

2.  The Bruntland Commission’s definition of SD applies the CI to sustainable development concerns by considering the interests of all stakeholders, including those that are as yet unborn.  So, it requires that we think through whether, if a particular principle/pattern of behaviour were to become sufficiently widespread, its effect would be to help meet the needs of this current generation (especially bearing in mind equity[8] and liberty concerns) without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, given relevant environmental factors, constraints and trends.[9]

Immediately, the two principles reveal why many Caribbean development initiatives over the past generation have proved to be unsustainable: they have been ethically unsound. 

For, development-oriented decisions and actions taken at individual, institutional, community and national levels have far too often been carried through without clear and consistent ethical reflection, leading to policies and actions that are insufficiently constrained by recognition of their likely impacts and consequences on other persons (especially the poor, the powerless and the voiceless) and on the environment.  So, as the consequences of self-serving, shortsighted choices have played out on the ground, and as the poor examples set by top-level decision-makers have spread out across the wider society, chaos has too often followed.

To illustrate this, we may consider a fictionalised, composite case[10] of a Caribbean housing development:


Portview is a satellite “bedroom community” housing estate built on former coastal wetlands next to an estuary near to Bigtown, a major Caribbean city:

  • The development of Portview not only contributes to the rapid deterioration of coastal zone ecosystems (damaging the livelihood of local subsistence-level fishermen), but the area chosen is highly vulnerable to hurricane storm surges, earthquakes and tidal waves[11] due to Kick’em Jenny Volcano off the coast of Grenada.  Even more menacing is a local Soufriere, an explosive, island-arc volcano that rumbles and shakes every thirty or so years; it is only five miles inland from the housing estate — well within the range of devastating, fast-moving hot ash flows.

  • Moreover, the new community greatly increases the distance of the average commute to work or school, so that it worsens Bigtown’s already major traffic congestion and air pollution problems.  The sharp increase in long-distance road traffic on the single road to Bigtown, and the general rise in the number of cars on the road also contribute significantly to rising fossil fuel consumption, adding to the national foreign exchange crisis. 

  • Portview also has significant socio-cultural impacts on its parent city. First, it attracts young, upwardly mobile professionals and relatively well-off supervisory level artisans from Bigtown’s aging urban neighbourhoods, accelerating inner city decay and the rise of a criminalised street culture linked to political violence, protection rackets and the rising illicit drugs trade.  Further, due to tight zoning restrictions and unsympathetic regulators, it is difficult for community-based institutions, notably churches, to become established in Portview.

  • In turn, the inner city decay in Bigtown accelerates adverse economic trends rooted in ideologically driven errors in national development policy. The policies in question, which are driven by the ideological biases of several prominent Lecturers based at the National University, have failed to help the nation make the transition from a commodity-based economy, to the emerging global economy based on technologically advanced, knowledge- and innovation- based, value-added goods and services.

  • As Portview, in turn begins to suffer urban decay, its own upwardly mobile residents begin to look towards newer, more upscale housing, and the cycle of urban decline begins again. However, since Portview lacks extended family networks, supportive community-based social institutions, and associated community leadership, the decay process starts earlier and is much faster than what had happened only a few years before in Bigtown.

Thus, we may see that development initiatives in the Caribbean often pose many interlocking, interacting, environmentally linked ethical and sustainability challenges. For instance, we may ask:

1.  Why did development planners decide against the alternative of inner-city renewal in Bigtown? 

2.  Why did they then site Portview in the path of several highly destructive natural disasters[12]

3.  Why were environmental concerns and potential societal impacts on the less well off, such as the local fishermen, apparently low on the scale of priorities? 

4.  Why was there no effective response to the probable impact of attracting away from Bigtown many of those people who would be likely to influence inner city communities in the interests of stability and lawful behaviour? 

5.  Why is it that, disproportionately, it is the poor, the powerless and the voiceless that pay the price for development policy failures? 

6.  How could the consistent application of ethical principles such as the CI and the Bruntland SD Principle, help us to avoid or correct such ethical lapses and policy failures?



Reflection on such ethical questions soon shows that there are many opportunities for the church to speak prophetically into the national development process, promoting godly reformation so that “the blessing given to Abraham might come to the ethne [nations].”[13]  However, in the emerging cynical, post-modern, secularised, neo-pagan  “new age” that now increasingly characterises the Caribbean, it is hard for such a prophetic voice to be heard.

2.       Diagnosis: Hypocrisy, Post-Modernity, and the need for Reformation

It has long been a favourite tactic to discredit Evangelicals and others who raise ethical concerns in the public arena by harrying them with the question of hypocrisy.  The sad cases of Televangelists Swaggart and Bakker — as well as an uncomfortably large number closer to home — underscore the point that the cry “hypocrisy” is too often quite justified, discrediting the prophetic voice of the church.  For, if we Christians can’t get our message to work on a sustained basis in their own lives and institutions, then why should other people bother to listen to what we say?

Consequently, a Christian voice raised in response to a moral issue linked to the region’s development challenges must be able to respond effectively to pointed rebukes, such as:

  •   “How dare you impose your intolerant, hypocritical, outdated, patriarchal, unworkable ‘morals’ on us!”

  •    “Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone."

  • “Science proves that ‘right’/‘wrong’ is relative, to individuals, situations, communities and cultures.”

  • “Matters of state/national development are matters of power and economics, not morals: so, private vices can be public virtues.”

  • “If you try to base government laws and policy on religious views, you are resorting to religious totalitarianism – just like the Islamists.”

  • “What we need is revolution by any means necessary, not attempts to patch a failed system!”

Such rebukes draw their “shut up” rhetorical power from several main sources.  First, as noted above, there is the question of hypocrisy.  As Jesus put it:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.[14]

So if we are to seize the initiative, we must go back to Jesus’ underlying point: to be a fallen human being in a fallen world is to struggle with the blinding and enslaving power of sin. Consequently, it is only as the renewing, reviving power of the gospel works out in our own lives and institutions, that we can help the wider community grope towards that urgently needed reformation which is a necessity if the Caribbean is to not “build in vain.” 

This need for ongoing cleansing and growth in our own lives and institutions is not only a practical necessity if we are to be leaders in the community, but it is also one of the hallmarks of true discipleship.  For, we may read in the sobering words of the Elder John, speaking to the Christian community of the late First Century[15]:

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Secondly, a contemporary prophetic voice in the Caribbean must also confront a major intellectual and cultural challenge. For, the global rise of Atheistic/Agnostic Evolutionary Materialism over the past three hundred years has meant that Western Civilisation’s intellectual high ground has been seized and held by men, institutions and movements that are fundamentally hostile to the gospel. 

For instance, recently retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong,[16] who is now quite fashionable in some regional circles because his books provide persuasive (though fundamentally debatable and often simply specious[17]) anti-Bible arguments, is a self-confessed atheist.[18]   So, while wearing a Bishop’s robes, he loudly advocates for the “reformation” of Christianity along atheistic lines, and publicly derides the church’s historic understanding and declaration:

[that there is One True Living God who has spoken through Prophets, Scriptures, and Who] “in these last days . . . has spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  [Who] [a]fter he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”[19]

In short, Spong boldly repudiates the Historic Christian Faith and instead believes, in the name of “Science,” that humankind is the accidental byproduct of a purposeless, fundamentally random process of evolution, from hydrogen to humans, and possibly beyond.[20] Similarly, assuming the same Evolutionary Materialism (the philosophical basis for modern Atheism), Matthew Dingwall feels free to publicly rebuke Rev. Clinton Chisholm for responding to the Bishop’s heresy:

We both know that what we call “God” is man-made; the reverend gentleman is just having difficulty accepting the fact.  There was history before his God came and there will be plenty of it after man sees the light and discards his God . . . .

[Chisholm] states that the Christian God created man with free will and in exercising this free will he sinned.  I don’t see how he could make such a statement.  How can we be free to make choices, and at the same time be punished for making the one that seems the better of the two?  What kind of freedom is that?  It seems that the original purpose of the Christian God was for mankind to remain forever ignorant, serving him blindly . . . Man may have been created with free will, but he certainly did not have freedom to use that will.[21]

As Mr Dingwall so plainly indicates, in light of an atheistic worldview, “moral values” are at best seen as relative to individuals, communities and cultures; they lack any rationally or morally compelling universal scope.  Consequently, contemporary society, since it is dominated by such materialistic thinking, struggles to find a way to consistently justify moral restraints in the face of the ever-present nihilistic/Machiavellian challenge that what counts is not so-called “morals” (much less stewardship of our world under God) but rather power to do as one pleases.

Going further, and as Mr Dingwall also clearly illustrates, relativists and secularists often deride the concept of a Creator-Redeemer God who speaks in the pages of the Bible as a dangerous myth used to support the power agendas of certain “backward” religious interest groups.  Thus, biblical virtues and associated moral claims (which are explicitly rooted in the Lordship and Holiness of our Creator, and are claimed to be “for your own good”[22]) are viewed with suspicion. For, in relativist eyes, they appear to be simply ideological tools used to advance the imposition of a hypocritical and potentially tyrannical “fundamentalism”[23] that exploits the ignorance and emotions of the poorly educated[24]

Instead, relativists and secularists typically contend that all moral rules or principles are necessarily only relative to times and communities, and so have at best utilitarian, pragmatic or self-uplifting value[25].  They should therefore “evolve” to meet changing circumstances – especially in regard to the “need” for freedom of artistic and sexual expression and for the “liberation” of certain oppressed groups that have long suffered “patriarchal domination,” especially black people, racial minorities, women, gays[26] and lesbians.

The basis of such relativistic morality, however, is fundamentally flawed.  For, as the CI and the Bruntland SD principle remind us, sustainable civilisation is based on respect for other persons, thus restraint of our natural appetites and tendencies.  Or, rephrasing in terms of respect for rights, your right requires my duty, whether to life, liberty, reputation, property, or to an environment that can sustainably support your needs, or whatever.  As philosopher Arthur Holmes aptly summarises:

If we admit that we all equally have the right to be treated as persons[27], then it follows that we have the duty to respect one another accordingly.  Rights bring correlative duties: my rights . . . imply that you ought to respect these rights.  Of course, not all duties arise in response to human rights.  Some issue from special relationships, like contracts and the special rights they involve; and some duties come from loving and caring for another person rather than from that person’s rights[28].

So, when many relativists attack any asserted truth or moral claim that does not suit their fancy as “backward” or as an “imposition” — echoing what the late Yale University Law Professor Arthur Leff called the “grand ‘Sez who?’”[29] — they instantly fall into confusion and inconsistency:  (1) saying that truth and right are relative to individuals and cultures, but also (2) expecting others to accept as binding the maxim that they should not “impose their views on others.”

Given the direct link between duties and rights, does not the CI warn us that such an inconsistency undercuts the moral foundation of all of our cherished rights and freedoms?  Does not the Bruntland SD principle add to this, that the resulting inconsistent, self-serving behaviour is liable to undercut our capacity to appropriately respond to sustainability challenges?

Often, however, the intellectual power of the underlying Naturalistic worldview makes many relativists and secularists more than willing to live with the logical and moral inconsistencies and destructive consequences of their core beliefs. So, if we are to unleash the full force of the church’s prophetic voice in the Caribbean, we must also respond to the intellectual challenge posed by the underlying philosophical Naturalism.  

For, while such Naturalism claims for itself the prestige and authority of “Science,” in fact the underlying scientific and philosophical case is open to serious challenge.  Thus, as C. S. Lewis and many others have pointed out, we may highlight the implications of materialists’ tendency to reduce all phenomena to the outworking of chance events and purposeless laws of nature acting on matter and energy across time.  But, this “explanation” must therefore include our minds as well, and so we find a characteristic reduction of reasoning to the status of illusion: whether through Freud’s id-ego-superego conflicts, or Marx’s class conditioning, or B. F. Skinner’s operant conditioning, or Ayer’s logical positivism, or Crick’s reduction of personhood to nerve cell activity and associated molecular biology.

Now, as a rule, such materialists use these implications to attack those with whom they differ, but it is clear that the logical knife cuts both ways.  In short, we may legitimately ask: “Sigmund, what about the impact of your potty training on your views on morality?” Or, “Karl, aren’t your theories on society simply the untrustworthy product of your Bourgeois morality and class conditioning?”  Or, “But, Burrhus, aren’t you just another puzzled rat in the cosmic maze?”  Or even, “Alfred, can you show us that the verification principle you use to dismiss the term “God” as meaningless is itself empirically falsifiable, thus meaningful, as it would beg the question to be proved if it were to be assumed ‘true by definition’?”

Philip Johnson’s rebuke to the Nobel Prize winning Biochemist Sir Francis Crick brings out the underlying self-referential inconsistency with great force.  For, to be consistent, Crick should be willing to preface each of his writings: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”[30]  Johnson then aptly comments that “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

Arguably, then, Evolutionary Materialism is a philosophical position that easily falls into self-referential inconsistencies.  So, whatever a Dingwall or a Spong, or even a Crick may think or say, the resulting logical confusion shreds Naturalism’s bold assertion that it is scientifically established “knowledge.”  Further, its specifically scientific claims are also open to serious challenge, and so, for instance, the Discovery Institute posts in its Web Site[31]:

Materialistic thinking dominated Western culture during the 20th century in large part because of the authority of science. The Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks, therefore, to challenge materialism on specifically scientific grounds.[32] Yet Center Fellows do more than critique theories that have materialistic implications. They have also pioneered alternative scientific theories and research methods that recognize the reality of design and the need for intelligent agency to explain it. This new research program — called "design theory" — is based upon recent developments in the information sciences and many new evidences of design. Design theory promises to revitalize many long-stagnant disciplines by recognizing mind, as well as matter, as a causal influence in the world. It also promises, by implication, to promote a more holistic view of reality and humanity, thus helping to reverse some of materialism's destructive cultural consequences.  

Going yet further, as Francis Schaeffer often warned, “ideas have consequences.” So, there is an even more pressing, concern.  For, “every man does what is right in his own eyes” -- as (for example) we saw Mr Dingwall advocating above -- is the classic recipe for social chaos and anarchy.  Such chaos opens the gate for tyrants to gain power by promising to restore or maintain order and prosperity. However, tyrannical “cures” are almost always worse than the disease.[33]  

Thus, we come to the Caribbean’s stark choice: repentance, mutual reconciliation and reformation under God; or, ever-increasing social chaos and violence as men dismiss and forget God’s rightful place in their lives and communities, leading to bloody revolution and/or tyranny.  For, as hard experience has repeatedly shown, godliness is the only proven way for nations to sustainably enjoy both liberty and order[34].  Therefore, we must now turn to how we may spark sound renewal and reformation in the Caribbean, towards truly sustainable development.


3.       Paul’s Mars Hill Strategy: Prophetic Intellectual Leadership

Clearly, intellectual leadership is a decisive factor (for good or ill) in the present crisis, and must therefore be a key to the sound and sustainable reformation of the Caribbean.  This is not new; the need for prophetic intellectual leadership was also a central issue faced by Paul, most notably on his visit to Athens.  Therefore, his example provides quite relevant insights that we may use to guide our own initiatives.

The Apostle had come to Athens five hundred years after its glory days — the days of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Pericles, to take a brief respite from his stressful Macedonian adventures.  For, in Macedonia, he had been harassed and harried from one town to the next, and was finally driven out, taking refuge in Athens.

However, he found the all-pervasive idolatry too disturbing to keep silent.  [Acts 17:16.]  So as a lion, with terrible resolve, turns and vexes those who have unwisely persisted in harrying him, Paul — in the city of Socrates — went to the Agora (the marketplace), and started to dialogue with passersby; as that stone-dresser turned philosopher was wont to do.  Soon, a group of pagan Philosophers paused, argued with him, conferred among themselves, and, parodying the fate of Socrates, took the Apostle to a meeting of the Areopagus [Mars Hill] Council.

There, the Athenian leaders got more than they bargained for. For, Paul made straight for the rotten intellectual foundation of Pagan thought and culture.  Pointing to its beautiful temples and monuments, he picked the altar that exposed the critical instability: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.  That is, on the most important possible point of knowledge, the Athenians — the fountainhead and proud guardians of the Western intellectual, artistic and democratic traditions — were forced to admit their ignorance, in a public monument! 

Paul then pointedly stated the decisive prophetic issue: “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”  That is, the true key to the field of Knowledge is Revelation (rather than merely human speculation, argument or experiment[35]), starting from our God-given intuition that an orderly universe without and a rational mind and ever-probing conscience within jointly testify to a Rational, Orderly, Moral Creator.  [Cf. Romans 1:18 – 32.] 

Of course, and as Dingwall, Spong, Freud, Marx, Skinner, Ayer, Crick and many others illustrate today, we may suppress or becloud such intuitions; but plainly to our intellectual, moral, and social peril; with damaging environmental and sustainability implications.  However, since God knows perfectly, he can communicate additional significant — though obviously not exhaustive — truth to guide us in the face of such intellectual dilemmas, moral conundrums, and sustainability challenges.  Hence, the prophetic force of Paul’s key word: “proclaim.”

The substance of Paul’s prophetic proclamation to the Athenians (and thus to Western Culture and the wider world) is therefore pregnant with beneficial implications for community order, national life, blessing and truly sustainable development:

1) The Creator-Redeemer God does not live in temples we can make with our hands.  Nor does he depend on our religious leaders and institutions, rituals, gifts or offerings.  Instead, it is he who made us and gave us everything we have.  We are therefore his stewards in — and of — his world[36], for “in Him we live and move and have our being.” 

2) From one man, God created the nations, setting their times & seasons [kairous], and their places[37], “so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.”   That is, the diverse fraternity of nations [ethnoi, people groups] was created to foster opportunities to demonstrate godly, harmonious social order ¾ not least, by restraining the possibilities for the rise of a corrupt, globally dominant regime.[38]  (Further to this, when nations choose instead to forget God and His ways, making false loyalties, power, prestige, pleasure and prosperity their chief values, they walk down a road to ruin; cf. Deut. 8:17 – 20.)

3) “In the past, God overlooked [our] ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.  For he has set a day in which he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.  He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead”:

4)   The time for ignorant pursuit of false loyalties and foolish agendas is over; God has intervened globally, decisively and publicly[39] by Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection: “he has made this same Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ.” [Acts 2:36.]

5) God therefore commands that we repent, undergoing a comprehensive change of heart and mind driven by recognition of the truth and godly sorrow over sin, leading to a transformed way of life [1 Cor. 6:9 – 11].  In particular, we are to receive as Lord and Saviour him who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  [John 14:6, cf. Acts 4:12.]

6) This command to repent is universal, but does not demand blind obedience: God offers public proof to us by raising Jesus from the dead.  In evidence of this, we have over five hundred eyewitnesses, most of whom were still alive when the record was made, and the continued manifestation of resurrection power — in manifold ways — in the church to this day.  [1 Cor. 15:1- 8, Eph. 1:17 – 23.]

7) Flowing from this, human culture is not autonomous or absolute: there is a set day for judgement of the world, a comprehensive audit carried out with perfect justice.  Thus, communities and their citizens are servants of God, accountable before their Creator for truth, right, justice and the proper stewardship of resources in their care, starting with their land.  This opens the door for prophetic commentary on public morality, policy and issues linked to development and sustainability.  [Cf. Rom. 1:18 – 32 & 13:1 – 10.]

8) Moreover, since we are created from one ancestor, there can be no justification for nationally-, or racially-, or class-, or otherwise- motivated oppression, aggression, exploitation or prejudice.  Community extends to the fraternity of all peoples, and so God refuses to answer the foolish question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Paul’s audience, however, mostly reacted with an ill-advised, illogical sneer: in effect, never mind the evidence and our acknowledged ignorance on the subject — God can’t be like that! 

However, some were willing to listen further, and a few openly turned to Christ.  Scanty immediate results.  But the truth had been proclaimed and backed up with adequate evidence.  And, Paul, too, had made a decisive turn, seizing the intellectual and cultural initiative. 

From Athens, the Apostle would go on to Corinth and Ephesus, building bases from which the Christian Faith would ultimately triumph in Greek culture.  Intellectually, he would go on to expand his Mars Hill thesis, through penning the Epistle to the Romans[40], which articulated in greater detail the case that would at length prevail over classical paganism.  

So, two thousand years later, we know who had the better case that fateful day.  For, Paganism’s hollow intellectual and moral core now stood exposed for those with eyes to observe, and ears to listen.  The future therefore belonged to the Apostle, not to the Philosophers and Politicians.  Thus, from small beginnings, the churches planted in Athens and other Greek cities grew strong and prevailed.

4.       Seizing the Cultural Initiative: Towards Reformation and Development in the Caribbean

In our time, like Athens in the First Century of the Christian Era, the Caribbean is at a kairos. For, as the 1990’s dawned, Marxism was consigned to the ash-heap of history, discrediting socialist politics and economics, and leaving an intellectual vacuum in its wake — in the face of mounting evidence that the development policies and initiatives of the past fifty years are inadequate to overcome the region’s many interacting environmental and sustainability challenges. 

The resulting dilemmas have been summed up in the colourful words of Caribbean History Professor and Cricket Researcher Dr. Hilary Beckles[41]:

There is no political movement that connects its manifesto to the idealism of the historic struggle for social change with justice.  As a consequence, the region's 'labour parties' have become anti-labour, and workers everywhere are running for shelter and leadership within the walls of a revivalist evangelical christianity [sic] that now commands the communities' largest social gatherings.

The death of social idealism, and the triumph, for example, of 'born-again religious escapism,' signal the abandonment of the youth to apolitical social engagements, and the defeat of the nationalist, regionalist projects to which cricket has been hinged since the 1950s.  Within this context of failure, cricket is asked to carry the cross of a crucified political agenda whose leaders have lost all popular emotional appeal.

While perhaps these words are too sweeping, too sharp and somewhat coloured by nostalgia for the glory days of socialist ideology in the region, there is enough that rings true for the Caribbean’s Evangelicals have to face the moral issues they raise: our irresponsible escapism and isolation from the wider Caribbean culture, driven by our narrowly religious focus. For, we have too often failed to provide effective, proactive cultural leadership over the decade since the fall of Marxism, leaving the culture to flounder in a post-modern, relativistic morass, resulting in confusion and many destructive consequences. 

How, then, may we instead seize the cultural initiative, raising a clear prophetic voice and helping the Caribbean to turn away from development paths that consistently “build in vain,” towards truly sustainable development? 

First and foremost, given the scope and magnitude of our own failings, if we want a sound reformation of our culture to spread across the Caribbean, we Evangelicals must repent and be renewed and revived in our thinking, values and ways.  Further, historically, cultural reformation requires a further step: transformational leadership based on sound, breakthrough biblical teachings integrated with outreach, nurture and ministry strategies that — similar to Paul’s Mars Hill initiative — effectively pierce prevailing religious, intellectual and socio-cultural barriers.

So, since it is our narrow, escapist theological focus[42] that has led to our intellectual and cultural isolation and failure to provide balanced, proactive truly prophetic leadership, the logical first point of the required breakthrough is the Pauline emphasis on the Fulness of Christ:

[Jesus] who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill all things.  [Eph. 4:10.]

[B]y him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. . .

God was pleased to have his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood . . . .  God has chosen to make known among the nations the glorious riches of [the word of God in its fulness], which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."  [Colossians 1:15 - 27.]

[God] made known to us the mystery of his will . . . which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ . . . . 

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way.  [Ephesians 1: 9 - 10, 22 - 23.]

[Therefore, Christ] "gave . . . apostles . . .  prophets . . . evangelists . . .  pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up . .  .  attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ." 

[As that happens, we will no longer be vulnerable to] every wind of teaching and . . . the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ. 

[Each of us must reckon that] it is by grace [we] have been saved, through faith . . . not by works, so that no-one can boast.  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God has laid out in advance for us to do.  [Eph. 4:11 - 15, 2:8 - 10. Emphases added.]

In sum, everything was created by Christ, and for Christ.  He is the Centre who holds all things together, sustaining them in an orderly whole: Cosmos.  In loving response to our sin and its resulting chaos and devastating crises, he came: descending, dying for our sin, rising and ascending "in order to fill all things." 

In saving us, he therefore calls and equips us to do "good works . . . laid out in advance for us to do."  As we walk in this call to service, the church, which is the body of Christ, matures and fills all things with his glory and grace.  Thus, in the fulness of time, God will "bring all things together under one head, even Christ."

In this light, the way forward to truly sustainable development is first to repent: the chaos and frustration we face in the Caribbean — despite our often ostentatious and pervasive, but so often hypocritical “Christian” religiosity — flow from our sinful neglect or even rejection of Christ, the source of wholesome, sustainable order and blessing[43] for "all things."  Christ therefore commands us to repent, be renewed in our own lives and institutions under the loving discipline of the Word and the Spirit, then to go out into our communities under His mandate: "go and make disciples of all nations, baptising . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."  [Matt 28:19 - 20.] 

So, the first steps Christians need to take along the road to reformation and truly sustainable development in the Caribbean are those of repentance and inner transformation through the renewal of our minds, leading to revival as God graciously pours out His Spirit in “times of refreshing.”[44] 

As we take these first steps, we will then be equipped to lead the wider community along the road to reformation and truly sustainable development, through the example of biblically sound discipleship, godly service and high-integrity, Christ-focused leadership in families, communities and institutions.  Thus, we will fulfil our role as the “body of Christ, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way” by walking in those good works that “God prepared in advance for us to do.”[45] 

The universal scope of our mandate therefore clearly requires that we must engage the social, cultural, economic, sustainability and environmental issues that now confront our region as it gropes blindly in a kairos, hoping to find a path towards truly sustainable development.

5.     Implementing the Mars Hill Strategy: The Road to Reformation and Sustainable Development in the Caribbean

The final step in this paper’s argument is to synthesise the Mars Hill Initiative and the Christocentric Fulness Vision, to point towards an integrated strategy for transformational leadership through effective reformation and sustainable development initiatives in the Caribbean.

The kairos concept is central to that synthesis.  For, as Paul put it in Acts 17, God created the nations, and so controls our places and times [kairous], that we are forced to grope (however blindly and ignorantly) for him in the midst of crises.  Then, as Paul’s presence in Athens exemplifies, God sends his spokesmen into such places at such times with the call to repentance, renewal and reformation, opening the door “so that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles [ethne] through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Holy Spirit.”[46]  Therefore,  "[Jesus] . . . gave" leaders to the church, "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up . . . attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ."

So, God is now sending the gospel of blessing to the nations of the Caribbean in our time of kairos, thus calling out, creating, building and equipping his body, the church “the fulness of him who fills everything in every way” as the means of blessing for our region. 

Thus, he is sending us out as his disciples, into — and beyond — the local community as “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Consequently, as we live, love, evangelise, disciple, serve, and provide high integrity leadership, Christ’s reforming and transforming redemptive fulness will naturally, often invisibly and imperceptibly, spread through "all things" across the Caribbean Basin and beyond.  This promotes truly sustainable development.

Sadly, however, this description highlights some of the most challenging areas of the church's ministry in the Caribbean: discipleship, Christian service and effective leadership in the wider community.  For instance, thinking back to my student days, I remember all too vividly the shock of seeing how unprepared the bright young people from our churches across the whole region were for living, studying, serving and providing high integrity leadership on campus, much less in the wider community and workplace beyond it.  

These challenges, in turn, require that we break out of our tendency to look at issues and challenges in isolation, failing to pull together a coherent, comprehensive framework for understanding, living and serving God in the world. This is a major reason why we so often end up unbalanced, inconsistent and ineffective in our thinking, living, work and leadership.

Instead, let us renew, reform and integrate the Caribbean church's ministry towards its proper goal; discipling — and thus blessing — the nations across and beyond our region, therefore growing in Christ's grace, richness and fulness:

  • First, let us renew our own thinking, theologising and teachings in light of Christ’s fulness: Christ is the source, sustainer and destiny of  "all things," including our individuality, family life, community, nationhood, environment, and development efforts.  Our choice as a region is therefore to be filled with Christ’s redemptive and renewing grace and glory; or else to be broken by our foolish, unsustainable rebellion against the very foundation of existence — our Creator, Loving Redeemer and Sustainer.  Wisdom therefore clearly instructs us to rebuild our lives, families, institutions, communities and nations on God's Rock that stands the storms of life.

  • We must then, as those charged to disciple the nations, seize the initiative in the wider community.  Surely, Caribbean history is proof enough of what happens when we don't.  Paul shows us the way: under Christ, he fused the best in Jewish, Greek and Roman heritage, laying the foundation for the modern world.  And he did it in the midst of an era of wrenching change as the multi-cultural, oppressive Roman Empire emerged from the ashes of a Roman Republic ruined by the envy and selfish ambition of its own leading citizens.  [Cf. James 3:13 - 4:2, 5:1 - 6.] 

  • In particular, we must take the high ground in the battle of ideas and ideals.  For, in spiritual warfare, we are to "demolish [deceptive] arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and . . . take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  [2 Cor. 10: 5.]  Let us therefore take the Christian case boldly to the campus, the school, the media, the Internet, business, institutions, the man in the street and people in their homes.

  • Further, these initial steps demand that we must work out a detailed, credible, Christ-centred vision for the sustainable development of the Caribbean in the face of its many spiritual, socio-cultural, economic and bio-physical environmental constraints and challenges.  This will require a major process of research, demonstration initiatives and consultation across the Church and wider region, perhaps initiated through a CONECAR, so that we can think through, and practically work out godly strategies for Caribbean reformation and truly sustainable development.

  • We must also convincingly demonstrate that our vision works.  Pilot projects in discipleship, family renewal, education, media, arts, community, issues groups, environment restoration, sustainable development initiatives, etc. should be very helpful for this. In particular, we need to develop training ministries that prepare disciples for Christ-centred life, work, service and leadership in the community. To that end, we should help our people consolidate their commitment to Christ and his mission, undergo preparation to live, serve and lead in families, small groups, institutions and the wider community, and go out to serve in love, truth, power and integrity as they discover and live out their specific calling, gifting and anointing from God.  Then, through the influence of powerful exemplars, reformation will spread through our region, and beyond it as we fulfil our Great Commission.

  • In undertaking such initiatives in the community, especially since there is now a widespread perception that Bible-believing Christians are opponents of liberty, we must stress and exemplify the sterling historic and contemporary contributions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to the emergence and strengthening of liberty and justice under the rule of law in the community of free peoples in the world.[47]

  • Finally, we must take advantage of the emerging, global information age.  For example, Internet-oriented curriculum development and presentation software packages[48] can help us to develop and deliver "any-distance" Theological Education, support for discipleship training, and "second chance" initiatives for those who lack the spiritual, academic and technical education base needed for the days ahead.

As we do these things, the opportunity for renewal and reformation — thus truly sustainable development — will come to our nations, in God's timing.



CONCLUSIONS:
Twenty three hundred years ago, Aristotle observed that strategy is the science of opportunity.  [The Nicomachean Ethics, Book I Ch. vi: 4.]   Historians also say that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Therefore, in an age of resurgent Islamism, let us consider the sobering historical parallel of 628 AD, when the Christian Byzantine Empire[49] defeated the Zoroastrian Persians, but was exhausted.  Within a decade, Islamic armies swept out of Arabia in a “holy war” invasion that created the Arab Islamic heartland, especially in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and North Africa. So, for nearly a thousand years, the church was largely confined to a backward, hemmed-in Europe that reacted to the successful Islamic Jihad by repeatedly launching cruel military Crusades "blessed" by the church's leaders.  (No wonder so many hearts are now shut to the gospel in "the 10/40 Window.")

Similarly, the current wave of post-Cold War exhaustion, spiritual emptiness and decadence, confronted by militantly resurgent Islamism are signs of a critical turning point in history.  So, if we are to "[make] the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" [Eph. 5:16] in our time, we must now resolutely work towards a breakthrough to godly renewal and reformation in — and beyond — the Caribbean.

I therefore challenge the Caribbean church, as a vital regional institution, to found, adequately staff and abundantly endow a regional Institute for Discipleship, Reformation and Development.

Preferably, such an initiative should be affiliated with CETA and JTS/CGST along with churches and other partners in the wider community, and should be tasked to undertake original research, consultancies, pioneering/ demonstration projects and programmes, education, training, public outreach and apologetics initiatives as discussed above.[50] 

Its Mission Statement should therefore task it to undertake bold, ambitious, far-reaching, pioneering initiatives in collaboration with the church and other community partners across the region, towards integrated, holistic Christ-centred renewal, reformation, sustainable development and transformation in and of the Caribbean, and flowing out from our region to the wider world of our time.

As Mordecai once challenged a Queen: "who knows but that you have come to . . . position for such a time as this?"  [Esther 4:14.]  Our conclusion is therefore quite simple: why not now, why not here, why not us?




QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Review the Portview case.  Does it illustrate the claim that development initiatives have significant ethical aspects?  [Hint: answer in light of God’s concern for the poor and oppressed.]

  2. Consider two or three real-world cases from your experience or observation.  Do they illustrate similar patterns?

  3. Is hypocrisy among Christians as important an ethical concern as the text suggests?  Why or why not?

  4. Sometimes, it has also been argued that “the church” does not speak out on all issues, so it should not speak out on any, for instance mass nude weddings in Jamaica broadcast on Playboy pornographic Cable TV Channel.  Is this a reasonable demand?   [Hint: consider what is meant by “the church,” and the fact that press releases and letters to the editor are often suppressed by unsympathetic editors.]

  5. How, then, can those who speak out in the community for God respond effectively to ethical concerns and to “shut up” accusations such as those mentioned in the text?

  6. Are the concerns relating to relativism and secularism as important in the region as the text suggests?  Why or why not?

  7. How can the church address its underlying moral/ethical, intellectual and community engagement challenges, towards reformation of both itself and the wider region?

  8. In light of the history of Paul’s Mars Hill strategy and later reformations, would such a strategy help us address our region’s SD challenges?

AUTHOR: Gordon Mullings’ Christian commitment dates to the early 1970’s.  He holds a Masters Degree in [Applied] Physics [UWI, 1994], and is a candidate for a Masters in Business Administration [Heriot-Watt; completed December 2002].  His interest in issues relating to ethics, reformation and development dates back to his early student days on the UWI Mona Campus in the 1970’s and 80’s.  That in sustainability of development initiatives dates to his experiences in Montserrat in the mid-‘90’s, in the context of the unfolding volcanic eruption and the management of the crisis.  He is married, to Deloris, and the couple has been blessed with two Children: Jacinth (8) and Allen (3).




REFERENCES & READINGS

The following comprise not only works cited but also those that provide key background for the reflections in this lecture. Readers are also urged to explore the growing cornucopia of resources on the Internet, by searching under key words mentioned in the text.

Introductory

1.        Prior, Kenneth.  The Gospel in a Pagan Society.  (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1995.)  This re-issued classic provides an analysis of how the First Century church addressed the challenge of breaking through the worldview strongholds that dominated pagan Greek society.

2.        Richardson, Don.  Eternity in their Hearts, Rev. Edn.  (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1988.)  Extends Prior’s analysis, by pointing to providential cultural memories of God in hundreds of cultures across the world.  Provides “[s]tunning evidence of belief in the One True God in hundreds of cultures throughout the world, beginning with an extended discussion of the Athenian case.

3.        Kuyper, Abraham.  Lectures on Calvinism.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994.)  The 1898 L. P. Stone Foundation Lectures at Princeton University on the impacts of the Protestant Reformation on western culture, and thus global culture, by perhaps the last of the great Calvinist statesmen.  Of him, it was noted in 1907 that over the previous forty years, “the biography of Dr. Kuyper is to a considerable extent the history of the Netherlands.” [p. ii.]  As a cover blurb notes: “what Kuyper says is not of historical interest alone; for on many of the issues he addresses, the lines are still drawn in the same places.”  [That is, the dramatic shift in Western culture over the past century was more a question of control of the commanding heights in the battle over ideas and ideals, rather than that of actually resolving the issues.]

4.        Schlossberg, Herbert and Olasky, Marvin.  Turning Point: A Christian Worldview Declaration.  (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1987.)  A call to Christian engagement with cultural reformation, in light of historical and contemporary examples, issues and concerns. 

5.        UWICED, Caribbean Environment Outlook.  (Mexico City: UNEP, 1999.)  A survey of the state of the Caribbean environment, with an orientation to sustainable development. See the UWICED site, http://wwwuwiced.uwimona.edu.jm:1104/ and its regional environmental outlook page.

6.        SD Gateway site.  http://sdgateway.net/ A key online reference and resource on concepts, issues, policies, politics and programmes related to sustainable development.

7.        Scheaffer, John R. and Brand, Raymond H.  Whatever happened to Eden?  Earth’s Energy-Environment Crisis Opens Doors to New Prosperity.  (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1980.)  An early, positive Christian response to the rise of environmentalism, by an environmen consultant and a professor of Biology at Wheaton College.

8.        Goudzwaard, Bob.  Capitalism and Progress.  (Carlyle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1997.)  A groundbreaking study of the rise of modern economies as the medieval worldview broke down, and an elaboration of its challenges and prospects.  The discussion of the contrast between oikonomia and chrematistike [roughly: stewardship in the interests of all stakeholders of an enterprise vs. greed and exploitation], pp. 211 – 216, is a telling critique of modern market economies, in the interests of truly sustainable economics.  More relevant today than when it was published in 1978, in Dutch.

9.        Coffman, Michael S.  Saviors of the Earth?  (Chicago, IL: Northfield, 1994.)  A Christian critique of the politics, ethics and religious commitments of the “deep ecology” environmental movement.

10.     Holmes, Arthur F.  Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions.  (Downers Grove IL: IVP, 1984.)  A survey of ethics and associated moral issues, in the context of the impact of the watershed 1960’s.

11.     Carnell, Edward John.  A Philosophy of the Christian Religion.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980.)  A more personal approach to ethical and worldview issues, beginning from the characteristic human activity, the pursuit of happiness, and the values that such a pursuit entails.

12.     Aristotle.  The Nicomachean Ethics.  The book that started the dialogue on ethics in western culture.  Still worth reading, especially to gain insights into the educated pagan mindset of classical times.  [Try an online search.  One print edition is: Harris Rackham, (trans.) (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, 1996.)]

13.     Carson, D. A.  The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5 – 7.  (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster Press, 1998.)  A republication of a classic exposition on Jesus’ core ethical teachings, as presented in the Sermon on the Mount.  An interesting comparison can be made between the ethics of revelation and reformation and those developed through philosophical speculation and debate.

14.     Holmes, Arthur F.  Contours of a World View.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983.)  A survey of general world view concepts, issues, options and implications for life; including those tied to ethics.  A basic primer for thinking through the underlying (hidden?) assumptions and agendas associated with ideas, ideals, academic disciplines and schools of thought, the arts, socio-cultural movements, policies and politics.

15.     Kreeft, Peter, & Tacelli, Ronald.  Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions.  (Crowborough, E. Sussex: Monarch Publications, 1995.)  A “summa” on conceptual, logical, factual and values issues relating to Christian faith.  Very helpful as a quick first reference on questions, or as a good short resume of the field of intellectual challenges to the faith and typical informed responses.  Thus, it would best serve as a supplement to Holmes’ work, one that addresses questions specific to the Christian world- and life-view.

16.     Nash, Ronald H.  Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992.)  Focussed on issues linked to Christian vs. alternative worldviews in a pluralistic, post-cold war age.

17.     McCallum, Dennis (Ed.)  The Death of Truth.  ((Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 1996.)  An overview of the postmodern age, with implications and imperatives for Christians.

18.     Chapman, Colin.  Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam.  (Leicester, England: IVP, 1995.)  An irenic appreciation of Islam, with guidelines for responding to issues and agendas, towards dialogue and honest sharing of faith.  Increasingly important in an age of militant islamism. (The web site, http://www.answering-islam.org.uk/ is an online dialogue of Christians and Muslims.  The Christian Resources section is very useful, and includes good training materials.)

More Technical

19.     Henry, Carl F. H.  Christian Personal Ethics.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979.)  A survey of Ethics, starting from classical times, and emphasising the constancy of issues and alternatives across that time.  The work in particular makes a case that alternatives to the Judaeo-Christian revelation-based perspective have significant problems with achieving a coherent, practically effective position.

20.     Velasquez, Manuel G.  Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, 5th Edn.  (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.)  A current edition of a textbook on ethics from a major academic publisher.  However, its reasoning, presentations and perspectives are sometimes inadequate, and the obvious  relativistic framework leads to an emphasis on dilemmas, rather than on building moral knowledge and good habits that would equip students to make and carry out sound judgements in conceptually or politically difficult cases.  One hopes for a major revision in light of the current Enron scandal.

21.     Trueblood, D. Elton.  General Philosophy.  (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981.)  A very useful survey of the major themes and sub-disciplines in Philosophy.  The discussion of how the undeniable existence of error implies the existence of objective truth as “what there is to be in error about,” should be more widely discussed than it is.  [pp. 47 – 54.]  Similarly, the discussion on morality, pp. 254 – 281, is quite helpful.  And, the point that the fundamental method of Philosophy is comparative difficulties is well worth bearing in mind in the heat of dialectic.  [p.p. 73 – 81.]

22.     Moreland, J[ames] P.  Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation.  (Grand Rapids, MI: 1992.)  Perhaps a tad more than introductory, but this is such a path-breaking analysis of Science, its methods, strengths and limitations that is a necessary foundation for any serious reflection on matters linked to the Sciences, as are most matters associated with the environment.  Also, a necessary backdrop for informed critical reflection on Naturalism. Every Science major, every Science or Technology Educator, and everyone concerned with scientifically linked policies should read it. 

23.     Johnson, Philip.  Darwin on Trial.  (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1991.)  The book that catalysed the birth of the Intelligent Design movement, by exposing the unstated assumptions, lack of evidence and shaky reasoning that underlies much of modern thinking on the origin and development of life on earth.

24.     Milton, Richard.  Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.  (Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1997.)  A critique of the scientific foundations of contemporary Darwinism, by “an inquisitive reporter,” on the premise that since knowledge is “justified, true belief,” the justification of those beliefs should be open to public inspection.  However, Milton reports that biologists and medical men who have made discoveries bearing on evolutionary biology “have sought to publicize these discoveries in journals such as Nature but have been universally rejected because their discoveries are anti-Darwinian in implication and hence counter to the ruling ideology in the life sciences.  They have appealed to me ¾ a nonscientist ¾ to help them gain publicity.”  [Pp. ix, x.]  A devastating claim, indeed, and an independent, supporting witness to Philip Johnson’s similar claims.  

25.     Thaxton, Charles B., Bradley, Walter L., Olsen, Roger L.  The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories.  (Dallas, TX: Lewis and Stanley, 1992.)  A serious and as yet unanswered critical assessment of scientific claims relating to chemical evolution and the origins of life.  Technical in some aspects, especially those relating to Biochemistry and Thermodynamics, but generally surprisingly readable.

26.     Johnson, Philip.  Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education.  (Downers Grove IL: IVP, 1995.)  A seminal response to the prevailing Naturalistic worldview among educated elites based in the intellectual and cultural strongholds of our time.  Here Johnson exposes case after case of Machiavellian political, academic and legal maneuverings (often including the unjustified breaking of careers) in the interests of the continuing secularist control of the commanding heights in the battle for the ideas and ideals that will guide the future path of western culture.   An eye-opener for anyone who would embark on the road of prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership and reformation.

27.     Moreland, J[ames] P.  Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1991.)  A major apologetics initiative, in response to secularist thinking.

28.     Craig, William Lane.  Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Rev. Edn.  (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994.)  A defense of the Christian Faith that addresses the postmodern world, and which emphasises the Kalaam Cosmological argument that was the issue addressed in Dr. Craig’s Dissertation.  The book first addresses the issue of the link between faith and reason and the absurdity of life without God, and even if the more technical arguments that follow are not fully explored on a first reading, this section should be.

29.     Nash, Ronald H.  Faith and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith.  (Grand Rapids, IL: Zondervan, 1988.)  A more world-view oriented defense of the faith.  Perhaps, somewhat more accessible than the previous two.

30.     Carson, D. A.  The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.)  A survey of major pluralist and post-modern themes, with carefully developed responses.  A technical work that provides a carefully documented response to ideas and ideals that increasingly dominate Western Culture in our time.

31.     Dockery, David S. (Ed.)  The Challenge of Postmodernism: An Evangelical Engagement.  (Wheaton, IL: Bridgepoint, 1995.)  A structured compendium of papers/chapters addressing the nature and challenge of postmodernism towards a considered theological and ministry response, towards the reformation of western culture.

32.     Smith, Gary Scott.  God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government: Theonomy, Principled Pluralism, Christian America, national Confessionalism.  (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989.)  A four-cornered dialogue on reforming civil government, within a generally Reformed framework.  Useful reflections on the American experience and proposals that should be examined.  The responses to each major presentation from other perspectives are particularly illuminating.

33.     Amos, Gary T.  Defending the Declaration.  (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989.)  An assessment of the roots of the ideas and ideals expressed in the American Declaration of Independence, in defense of the contention that those roots are predominantly Christian.  In so doing, Amos documents how secularist perspectives have often coloured or even distorted assessments of the sources and history of ideas, and of the perspectives of seminal thinkers such as John Locke or even the Apostle Paul.  Important for these reasons, and also because of the critical importance of the second paragraph of the Declaration in shaping the rise of democratic self government of free peoples since 1776.  (Cf. http://www.house.gov/house/Declaration.html .)


[1] For the purposes of this paper, Morality is distinguished from Ethics by its more direct focus on specific personal (or institutional, or community) decision, motivation and action — and on the particular rules that guide such specific behaviour; rather than on critical/analytical reflection on the required underlying values, principles, rights, duties and relationships with other persons. The latter focus is the major concern of Ethics as a philosophical discipline.

[2] Psalm 127:1, cf. Deut. 8:1 – 20, & Jer. 29:1 – 23.

[3] Micah 6:8, and Eph. 4:10, cf. 11 – 24, & 1:9 - 10, 17 – 23.

[4] IBID.

[5] Environment, here, speaks to the broader usage that embraces bio-physical, socio-cultural and economic contexts, factors, processes, trends and constraints that characterise the world in which we live and pursue development goals for individuals, institutions and communities.  (Issues relating to justice and liberty, and spiritual reality/outlook and other factors could also be relevant.) 

[6] Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, H. J. Paton, trans. (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), p. 70. Cited, Manuel Velasquez, Business Ethics, 5th Edn, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), p. 97.  

[7] The CI’s link to the Golden Rule [GR] of Matt. 7:12 — “So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” — can be seen by mentally putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, then asking: “Would I like it if you did to me what I propose to do to you?”  However, the CI’s statement of the principle is sufficiently neutral that it can be used as a bridge to those who would be uncomfortable with specifically religious frame of the GR.  (This is similar to Paul’s apologetics strategy in Acts 17:22 – 28, where Paul commends the basic truths of biblical faith to a sophisticated pagan audience by pointing to a pagan altar and citing a pagan poet, without using a single direct biblical quotation.) 

[8] That is, where resources are tight, we should prioritise the needs of the poor, the powerless and the voiceless; but given the tyrannical potential of the state and its regulators, we must also be careful to respect the liberty and associated rights of all stakeholders. (Cf. Lev. 19:15 – 18.)

[9] Gro Harlem Bruntland: WCED definition of Sustainable Development, 1987.  Usually, environmental factors and trends are clustered under the biophysical, the socio-cultural, and the economic.  Sometimes, there is considerable debate over the relevant facts relating to factors, constraints and trends, as for instance is happening with the debate over climate change and sea level shifts.  And, as the debates over the Kyoto Protocol show, there may be a need to trade off biophysical, socio-cultural and economic costs and benefits.

[10] It may be quite instructive to do it with a diverse circle of community stakeholders.

[11] More properly, tsunamis.

[12] In some real-world cases in our region, elites and decision-makers have been well aware of scientific studies of environmental hazards and their findings on the associated vulnerabilities, but these were not clearly communicated to the general public.  Consequently, recommendations of such studies are often severely under-implemented, and assessments of the relative costs and benefits of “business as usual” [BAU] and “more sustainable” policy alternatives are often severely distorted in the perceptions of policy-makers and the public — to the advantage of BAU.

[13] Gal. 3:14.  Thus, part of the Church’s mandate is to bring blessings to the nations through Christ.  That is, the discipling of the nations brings blessing to them.  Cf. Matt. 28:18 – 20, Acts 3:17 – 26.

[14] Matt. 7:3 – 5.

[15] 1 John 1:5 – 9. Emphases added, to highlight the specifically Christian context of the message.

[16] Characterised in self-chosen words, on the back cover of one of his recent books as “an atheist who does the job of a Bishop very well.” Cf. Henry, Martin: “Bishop John Spong as an atheist,” The Gleaner, Thurs. Jan. 31, 2002, p. A4.

[17] Cf. the relatively accessible assessment of the reliability of the Bible at http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/bib-docu.html , a similarly non-technical assessment of the Jesus Seminar’s claims at http://jesus.com.au/library/jesus/seminar/index.html , and, as a basic print resource, Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.  More general intellectual issues linked to philosophical Naturalism  may be considered at http://www.leaderu.com/menus/apologetics.html .

[18] Cf. Bishop Spong’s proposed “reformation” of Christianity, along atheistic lines, as posted on the web at http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/reform.html . The epistemological bravado of such atheism can best be brought out by considering the gap between what humans know (however provisionally) and what is potentially knowable, then reflecting on the fraction of what humans know that any one individual or group (however learned) knows.  An atheist would be well advised to consider whether it is at least possible that what is needed to know God exists happens to be outside of the infinitesimal circle of his own provisional knowledge-claims.  See also some specific responses to Spong and online discussions at http://www.starcourse.org/spong/ .

[19] Heb. 1:1 - 3.

[20] This is a major thesis of the popular Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation television series, which have helped to shape the mindset of a whole generation.

[21] “Disputing Rev Chisholm’s views,” The Daily Observer (Kingston, Jamaica), Feb. 6, 2002, p. 9.  Clearly, Mr Dingwall fails to see that an issue in dispute cannot be simply asserted away by declaring that one’s own assumptions are known to be true.  As will be discussed below, the atheism he advocates is self-referential and inconsistent, fatally undercutting any claims to knowledge that it makes.  Further, on moral choice, he fails to observe that freedom brings with it the duty to act responsibly, which is the basis for the rule of law in a democratic community.  As the CI would warn, if all men were to act on whatever seemed the better choice for them, and the Courts could do nothing about it, chaos would follow, destroying the very liberty that Mr Dingwall would advocate.

[22] Deut. 10:13.

[23] Increasingly, simply a smear-word for any religious tradition that takes morality in the community seriously.

[24] Thus, we see the root of the secularist tendency to oppose or undermine Christian efforts in the community, school or media.  For instance, in 1997, a Constitutional Law Lecturer on the Cave Hill Campus of the UWI — echoing many initiatives in the USA — threatened university students with legal, administrative and even academic penalties for preaching the gospel on campus (thus using tax-funded facilities), because they claimed that the gospel is objectively true.  Thankfully, the authorities on the campus viewed this action as extreme.  [Source: Letter to UCCF student leadership, Feb. 1997.  Available on request.]

[25] Such statements of moral relativism are inherently expressions of a proposed universally binding moral principle — so they are self-referential and self-refuting.  Thus, they lead to logical and moral confusion and have disintegrative impacts on society.

[26] A term which characterises a particular movement of some homosexuals, who seek “liberation” and recognition as a legitimate, genetically based minority group in the wider community.   Gay lifestyle advocates’ insistent promotion of their lifestyle (e.g. through the pressure for legal recognition of “same-sex marriages,” through  sexually explicit television programmes and gay-promoting curricula in schools, and even through public displays of homosexuality) works to morally desensitise children to early sexual activity and also acts to undermine family –friendly values/public morality  in general.  In some cases, such gay lifestyle advocates apparently wish to undermine the desire of many parents to prevent seduction of their children into pederasty.    Many other homosexuals, generally wishing to keep their sexuality to themselves, quietly distance themselves from the movement.   [NB: There was major media exposure in the 1970’s to the Kinsey claim that 10% of the population is homosexual, and in the 1990’s to La Vey’s claims that studies on the hippocampus indicated a genetic root to homosexuality.  Subsequent corrections and retractions as flaws, biases and limitations were brought to light did not receive anywhere near so much exposure.]

[27] Machiavellians and nihilists such as Neitzsche, of course, deny any such claim of the powerless against the powerful.  (The Nazi mass murder of six million Jews and seven million other “untermenschen,” and Stalin’s purges are only two well known historical consequences.)  More broadly, the denial of legal status as a person, with supporting persuasive but specious arguments, has long been a key step in ideologically motivated oppression and worse, whether of blacks, Jews, women, social or religious groups, or the unborn.

[28] Cf. Arthur F. Holmes,  Ethics, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1984), p. 81. There are clear implications relating to the Decalogue, the Golden Rule, the Categorical Imperative, and the Bruntland definition of sustainability.

[29] Johnson, Philip.  Reason in the Balance, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1995), pp. 147 – 149.

[30] Philip Johnson, Reason in the Balance, p. 64.  Crick had written in his The Astonishing Hypothesis, that “ ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” [1994, cited, Johnson, p. 63.]

[31] http://www.discovery.org/crsc/index.php3  See the site, or Johnson’s Darwin on Trial and Reason in the Balance and J. P. Moreland’s Christianity and the Nature of Science, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), for more details.

[32] Materialistic evolutionism is challenged to explain the emergence of the specific, and apparently irreducible ordered complexity and diversity of life, starting with molecular biology, using the only mechanisms it accepts: chance events acting on matter influenced by purposeless laws of nature.   While, if one accepts that such an explanation is the only permissible one, attempts to so explain life (as made by Dawkins, etc.) will seem plausible; in fact, all such attempts severely beg the question at stake.  For, one cannot assume materialism in order to “prove” it by means of macroevolutionary mechanisms.   Instead, it is inherently at least as plausible to start from the common-sense observation that the strong evidence of intricate design in all life-forms points to an Intelligent Designer.

[33] See Judges 21:25 and 1 Samuel 8:1 – 22.  In this context, the rise of community warlords in Jamaica, the so-called dons, who reportedly fund their operations through protection rackets (i.e. a de facto tax) should give us pause.

[34] Indeed, the plain record of history (though it is often not recognized or taught in schools or even Universities) is that our liberty under constitutional, representational democracy is a legacy of the Protestant Reformation.  For instance, see Bamberg’s note on the influence of Duplesis-Mornay’s Vindiciae on the American Revolution (http://capo.org/premise/96/aug/p960810.html), Vindiciae itself (http://www.visi.com/~homelands//vindiciae/vindiciae.html ),  the Dutch Declaration of Independence, 1581, at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1581dutch.html , and Rutherford’s Lex, Rex http://www.natreformassn.org/lexrex/index.html .  In turn, the American experiment — notwithstanding its many defects and flaws — has blazed the trail towards self-government and freedom for the whole world.  Similarly, the words and deeds of men such as Sharpe, Bogle, Gordon, Garvey, and many others in our region bear witness to this point.

[35] As J. P. Moreland ably documents in Christianity and the Nature of Science [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992], at best, the resulting human knowledge claims are provisional and must therefore be open to critique, extension and correction in light of further evidence, possible logical incoherence, and challenges from well-established claims in other fields of study.  In particular, he demonstrates convincingly that there is no one, sure “The Scientific Method,” the exclusive property of “Science.”  Instead, the many academic and professional disciplines, whether termed Scientific or not, use various scientific, logical, mathematical, computational, philosophical, historical, hermeneutic, forensic and even heuristic methods as they seek to identify, test, elaborate and apply their knowledge claims — claims that are at best provisional and open-ended.

[36] The basis for a sound, just stewardship of our environment: biophysical, socio-cultural and economic.

[37] That is, God controls history through controlling the key elements of Geopolitics: people, place and times.

[38] Cf. Gen. 11:1 – 9.

[39] Cf. Acts 26:24 – 26.  There, responding to Festus’ interruption of his defense when he heard of the Resurrection, Paul in reply said “What I am saying is true and reliable.  The king is familiar with these things . . . I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.”

[40] While he was based in Corinth.  The idea that Paul later repudiated the line of reasoning outlined on Mars Hill has little warrant, least of all from 1 Cor 1:18 – 25, which in fact amplifies the opening thoughts of the Mars Hill speech: “since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.”  [NB: Philosophia, literally, is “the love of wisdom.”]

[41] Beckles, Hilary Mc. D.  "Rethinking West Indies Cricket: Notes on the Third Paradigm."  Caricom Perspective, No. 66, June 1996.  (Georgetown, Guyana: Caricom, 1996.)  Pp. 74 - 77.

[42] Epitomised by how we have often thought about, taught and practised the Plymouth Bretheren- and Irvingite- derived, regionally dominant Pre-Tribulation, Pre-Millenium Eschatology.

[43] Gal. 3:14.

[44] Acts 3:19, cf. 17 – 26 and Gal 3:14, 3:26 – 4:7.

[45] If, instead, the Caribbean — as it is free to decide — chooses to turn from Christ, we cannot evade his agenda of fulness; for, "all things were created by him and for him."  We will simply fall into the abyss of disorderly chaos and decay that result from violating the very structure of the universe.  So, the harder we push against Christ's fulness, the harder it will push back, ultimately breaking us.  [Rom. 1:18 - 32.]

[46] Gal 3:14.

[47] For, Christians and Jews have a long and enduring tradition of contribution to liberty — from Moses’ “Let my people go!” to Paul’s “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”; from Duplesis-Mornay’s Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, to Rutherford’s Lex, Rex and Blackstone’s Commentaries; from the Dutch Declaration of Independence of 1581 to the US Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the subsequent rise of modern democratic nationalism; and on to the ending of slavery and the rise of many other reforms and liberation movements in communities across the whole world, including in the Caribbean.

[48] E.g. Web CT and Virtual U.

[49] The Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire.

[50] Cf. Section 5.