Friday, September 26, 2008

A. B. Caneday's Attack on Multiculturalism

In a recent article which appeared in a 2007 volume of The Christian Research Journal, Dr. A. B. Caneday, Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Theology at Northwestern College, took on the prevailing view of multiculturalism or "diversity."

Dr. Caneday sources the roots of the multicultural movement in the literary deconstruction theory of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucalt. This theory reduces all other theories and worldviews to socio-political conflict and attempts to level the power-scales within academia, politics, religion, etc. , so that the "oppressed" have the same voice as the "oppressor." What actually occurs is postmodernism, a worldview marked by subjectivism and spin. Caneday quotes J.P. Moreland,

[In the] postmodernist view, there is no such thing as objective reality, truth, value, reason, and so forth. All these are social constructions, creations of linguistic practice. . . [T]ruth is simply a contingent creation of language which expresses customs, emotions, and values embedded in a community’s linguistic practices.

Therefore, there can be no viable truth claim that corresponds to reality. Any attempt to base a claim upon facts or certainty are instantly deemed invalid. Truth, rather, is personal and based on whatever appeals to the self. There is no need to be accurate or to have any basic belief deeper or stronger than emotion.

Further, political, religious, and social arguments (as race considerations certainly encompass) are reduced to the same subjective emotionalism and thus to spin, the art of turning a perspective away from objective fact and toward subjective "meaning."

Caneday sees within this system a "new orthodoxy," those who aim this ever-changing metamorphic beast toward their own desires. Of them he writes,

Multiculturalists, in their moral crusade, consequently erase necessary and proper distinctions between right and wrong or good and evil and replace these categories with proper and improper or appropriate and inappropriate. Their new morality defines as inappropriate and worthy of severe censure anyone or anything that endeavors to impede their righteous cause.

This redefinition of morality pertaining to race labels as racist any form of identification of differences, particularly by any individual who might be identified as part of the "oppression." Caneday argues that this actually trivializes real racism because it equates things like lynching with things like esteem for an individual or a community that happen to be of a different race. The only authority that can be appealed to, set by the multiculturalists, is political correctness. This slippery idea dictates which actions or words are proper. It also dictates which individuals can use them.

This is a whole new morality, decidedly post- and anti-Christian in its spirit and scope. Caneday rightly implies a malevolent undercurrent to the system.

Multiculturalism is a seductive philosophical vision of and for the world that recruits its unsuspecting advocates by the power of language as it exploits language as power. It powerfully allures with its speech code of virtuous‐sounding political correctness. It infiltrates the lexicon of any religious belief system, and in the process it imperceptibly transmogrifies religious expressions and belief systems, including Christianity, to adjust to its values, virtues, and message. It seduces many to suppose that its suppression of ill‐mannered speech with “political correctness” is of a piece with Christian virtue and compatible with the Christian gospel.

His conclusion is that we must accept people of diversity, but with that term clearly defined and based on Christian principles. We must not give preferential or protective treatment to any specific person or group, according to James 2:9. This will lead to conflict in both the public and private sectors, but we must hold to biblical (and therefore also correspondence) understandings of truth, language, and relationships.


I am in complete agreement with Dr. Caneday. I am for multiculturalism as it pertains to accepting people as individuals, irrespective of their ethnic or racial background. I am also captivated by other sub-cultures' unique traditions. But this multiculturalism is based on biblical concepts and cannot include the acceptance of sin or of conflicting worldviews as equal to Christianity. Nor does this multiculturalism include a "diversity above all" mentality. Especially as it pertains to our churches and our religious institutions (such as Christian colleges and para-church organizations), theology must consistently trump diversity.

An anecdote: I was once confronted by another student (who happened to be of black, Caribbean, descent) at a Christian college who complained that he was surrounded by "a sea of white people." His solution was not only for the school to actively seek-out students of different racial profile, but to hire instructors of different religious persuasions. My response to him was that it should not matter whether the school was a sea of white, or black, or Asian people, as long as the school retained its proper theological commitments. His solution was diversity above all; it was also unbiblical. The implications would be a death-knell for the very character and faithfulness of the school.

I am thrilled by the courage and determination in the face of adversity that Dr. Caneday has shown by writing this article and for living its conclusion out daily. I am also proud to say that he was my mentor at Northwestern College and remains a close and trusted friend.


It's not about me. said...

I like your explanation here of multiculturalism and its consequenses. Would you mind if I posted this on my site?

It's not about me. said...

Also Stephen, I would like to mention, I have come across your post in contrast to this piece I read last night on "The Gift of Prophecy", well worth a look.

I found the contrasting message in these two works profound and heartbreaking, to say the least.

Steven Douglas said...

Well, in the spirit of your blog, its not about me, besides it really is Dr. Caneday's intellectual property, so it really isn't up to me. I don't have any problems with it, though. May I ask who you are?

Steven Douglas said...

Yes, I see what you mean - all of this "prophetic" understanding is completely subjective. There is no accountability, so he cannot be pinned-down. Yikes.

It's not about me. said...

I post under the name Kyrie Eleison. I blog occasionaly with Vox Day,, Phyngula?

The blog I have posted is more for sharing short apologetic answers for my Christian brothers and sisters to arm themselves with defending their position on points I see that come up often.

"What is so bad about multiculturalism" is a very good example.

Steven Douglas said...

May God bless your ministry "Kyrie." =:}