Why Christians Should Examine All the Wares in the Marketplace of Ideas
by Robert A. Harris
Imagine sitting around a table and talking with friends when someone asks, “Why do some people want to legalize drugs?”
“I don’t know, but they’re wrong,” one of your friends replies.
Another friend adds, “It’s just a bunch of dopers who want to get drugs cheaper.”
“Well,” someone else says, “one of the arguments is that legalizing drugs will eliminate the illegal drug trade, drug criminals, and drug-related crimes, such as robbing people to get money to buy drugs. Legalizing drugs, however, probably means legalizing them only for people over a certain age, so, technically, there still will be an illegal drug market — the market to children, because illegal drug dealers will focus on children instead of adults. As for crimes for drug money, addicts will still need money to get legal drugs at the local minimart, so those crimes are unlikely to diminish. In fact, I think they would increase along with the easy and cheap availability of drugs; after all, drug addicts are not likely to enjoy long-term, gainful employment.”
Which of these three answers is the most interesting and useful? Which answer gives us a better understanding of both sides of the issue? Which one best demonstrates the integration between modern cultural ideas and the moral perspective derived from the Christian faith? The first two answers may be true or at least partially true, but they fail to offer anyone, Christian or non-Christian, pro-legalization or anti-legalization, any philosophical substance with which to work. In other words, they are not likely to influence someone who has an opposite opinion.
I submit that it’s important — no, crucial — for Christians to study and understand the ideas around them. The key to becoming an empowered Christian today is to develop a wholeness of view and a breadth of understanding of the intellectual world; that is, what ideas exist, who holds them, and why. What are the claims for truth, goodness, and human allegiance? What alternatives are proposed for living, governing, and building a future?
With these questions in mind, let’s look at seven reasons why learning about a wide range of ideas and arguments is vitally important…