An article entitled, How the public views the secret to America’s success, was posted July 1, 2016 on the Pew Research Center web site http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/americas-success/ . It focused on two views: “Reliance on principles” and “Ability to change” and used this graph to illustrate the percentages of which view were held by four different generations (age groups).
At http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/ the Pew Research Center has a quiz that helps you determine how Millennial you are. Just for fun, I took the quiz and barely registered on the scale. I didn’t even come up to the level of the “Silent Majority”. That’s because my views are so old-fashioned they aren’t considered relevant — old-fashioned, traditional, and Bible-based.
When you consider the oppositional views of principles vs. change, you enter into the comparison of world views. A world view is simply the way we choose to see reality. World views are more fundamental than philosophies. They reflect our values by giving us a framework of basic assumptions upon which to base our understanding of life and the world around us.
What this bar graph tells me is that Americans are deeply divided in their world views. It also shows that the trend is for younger persons to adopt the “change” view over the “principled” view. There is a reason for this.
Francis Schaeffer referred to what he called “the Christian consensus,” which was the general acceptance of Biblical values in society, even though not everyone was Christian. In the 60s this began to dramatically change as people increasingly rejected the Bible as authority and sought to replace God with the humanist authority of secular world views. Historically, this came at a time when the idea of absolute truth was being rejected and was being replaced by relativism.
In her book, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey wrote, “Having a Christian worldview means being utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world.” So, coming from the principled position of a Christian world view, the so-called “change” or variability of secular world views is seen as a poor substitute for the absolute truth.
Thus the two opposed world views of principle and change. One small detail Millennials and other relativists seem to overlook, is that principles are not opposed to change. Changes refer to specific circumstances or other factors, while principles overarch all circumstances and factors, thereby allowing for change. But for someone to consider specific changes more important than principles requires a rejection of the need for moral compass.
In Western Civilization generally and in the United States specifically, Christian principles have held together the fabric of society while allowing for a great deal of change. Essentially the rejection of principles by Millennials reflects society’s rejection of absolute truth and the authority of God.
Also from Total Truth are these words by Nancy Pearcey: “Religion is no longer considered the source of serious truth claims that could potentially conflict with public agendas. The private realm has been reduced to an “innocuous ‘play area'”, says Peter Berger, where religion is acceptable for people who need that kind of crutch- but where it won’t upset any important applecarts in the larger world of politics and economics.”
No wonder Millennials see nothing substantive in principles, but consider change more important — changes like gender selection and the definition of marriage. Another Pearcey quote from Total Truth is, “Morality is always derivative. It stems from one’s worldview.” The huge numbers of people today who adopt a pro-change view over one of principles do so because they are not that concerned with principles in their own lives.
That prevailing secular view stems from the rejection of absolute truth, the rejection of the God of the Bible and the rejection of his authority over all humanity. As a nation, we are turning our backs on God. And We are doing a complete turn-around from our origins.
One of the reasons for this is that our public schools have done an inadequate job of actually teaching our history. History has intentionally been rewritten and students are not taught about the foundational principles that created and sustained this nation during its first two centuries. Instead, they are taught about what needed to be changed and what needs to be changed.
Even the principles that make up the warp and woof of our Constitution are discarded by modern legal philosophy as specifics of a bygone age that need to be superseded by contemporary changes. That’s why they like calling it a “living” document — lib-speak for they can change its meaning to suit whatever their agenda requires. They hate principles because principles hold them accountable to something bigger, something higher, something grander than they themselves.
Our history notwithstanding, we live in a largely godless nation where younger generations look no further than what is expedient for their moral compass. In the post-modern age of relativism, deconstructionism, reductionism, utilitarianism and all the other godless isms, is it no wonder that our national presidential election has devolved into its current ignoble form of “statesmanship”?
If you are one who still believes in principles, may you break up your soil, plant your seeds, water, weed and care for your tender sprouts and sing, “This land is your land, this land is my land…” But don’t be amazed when your blessing is rudely interrupted by a strident voice yelling, “You kids get off the lawn!” The big change is that it was Hillary’s land all along. (Oops.)