To other races and cultures. The liberal (hedonist) approach is to relativize all cultures. (‘We can all get along because there is no truth.’) The conservatives (moralists) believe there is truth for evaluation of cultures, and so they choose some culture as superior and then they idolize it, feeling superior to others in the impulse of self-justifying pride. The gospel leads us to be, on the one hand, somewhat critical of all cultures, including our own (since there is truth), but on the other hand, we are morally superior to no one. After all, we are saved by grace alone. Christians will exhibit both moral conviction yet humility and cultural flexibility.
To non-Christians. The liberal/hedonist approach is to deny the legitimacy of evangelism altogether. The conservative/moralist person does believe in proselytizing, because ‘we are right and they are wrong.’ Such proselytizing is almost always offensive. But the gospel produces a constellation of traits in us.
*We are compelled to share the gospel out of generosity and love, not guilt.
*We are feed from fear of being ridiculed or hurt by others, since we already have the favor of God by grace.
*There is humility in our dealings with others, because we know we are saved by grace alone, not because of our superior insight or character.
*We are hopeful about anyone, even the ‘hard cases,’ because we were saved only because of grace, not because we were likely people to be Christians.
*We are courteous and careful with people. We don’t have to push or coerce them, for it is only God’s grace that opens hearts, not our eloquence or persistence or even their openness.
All these traits not only create a winsome evangelist but an excellent neighbor in a multi-cultural society.
To human authority. Moralists will tend to obey human authorities (family, tribe, government, cultural customs) too much, since they rely so heavily on their self-image of being moral and decent. Hedonists will either obey human authority too much (since they have no higher authority by which they can judge their culture) or else too little (since they may only obey when they know they won’t get caught). That means either authoritarianism or anarchy. But the gospel gives you both a standard by which to oppose human authority (if it contradicts the gospel), and it gives you incentive to obey the civil authorities from the heart, even when you could get away with disobedience.
- Tim Keller