Coexist is a philosophy that places all worldviews on equal ground. It does not take a stand on what truth is, but declares that social cohesion is the key to reducing prejudice and ending violence across people groups around the world. While I will not comment strictly on the coexist organization, I do wish to observe coexist as a life-philosophy. I mainly want to ask the question: are all worldviews equal? What might the impact be if truth is ignored for the sake of social cohesion?
Is coexistence possible?
More accurately, is social cohesion through coexistence possible? Coexistence is achievable, assuming people are willing to humble themselves and live with someone who holds a different view of the world. Coexistence does not demand that we forsake who we are and it does not demand that Christians compromise the Gospel. In fact, within the context of scripture, Christians are constantly challenged to love the world, serve the world and to live in the world while living to honor God in their lives and as they relate to others. There seems only to be a disconnect for the Christian when the world requires that he not honor God. The Christian must always choose God.
“If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone… Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12:18, 21 HCSB).
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 HCSB).
“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor” (1 Peter 2:17 HCSB)
“And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command” (Genesis 22:18 HCSB)
Even so, when we are committed to live at peace with everyone, scripture promises that the world will hate us and that war will persist.
“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18 HCSB).
“You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6 HCSB).
We should be absolutely clear about one thing. Scripture demands that Christians, at least individually and as long as it depends on them, live at peace with everyone. At the same time, it acknowledges that violence will not end on the earth because people are sinful and because the world hates Christ. It should also be stated that even when Christians are individually living at peace with everyone, they are to be advancing the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). Our living peaceably does not indicate our acceptance of falsehood as the truth. In fact, we should still be open and honest about what we believe and we should encourage others to do the same. We should understand that coexistence is possible, but we can never forsake our Lord or the mandate we have to advance the Gospel. Coexisters must accept that or they fail to coexist.
What of social cohesion?
Though coexistence as a term in itself seems possible, and indeed seems to be mandated by scripture, I am concerned more with the in-depth philosophy. Social cohesion is the end goal of the coexist philosophy. I wonder if this is even possible. To address any idea as a social idea indicates that it is, or should be, descriptive of a group or in the interactions between individuals. Cohesion is, to put it simply, unity. According to the coexist philosophy, it seems that unity is the only way to prevent prejudice and to prevent violence between people groups. I might sum up the idea thusly:
Three easy steps to world-peace
- Tolerate all people, no matter their worldview
- Toleration leads to unity
- Unity leads to non-violence
According to this formula, unity is achieved only by toleration and toleration is a commitment to non-violence. Nonviolence must preexist toleration, otherwise toleration is never possible. Unity is unnecessary. In other words, it is not necessary for people to have a like mind in order to experience peace with one another. Through the idea of social cohesion, the coexist philosophy insinuates that all people must think alike in order to experience peace. Despite the plethora of religious symbol in the coexist logo, the philosophy declares the exclusivity of a universal worldview. Therefore, it does not accept all religions. Instead, it presupposes that no religion is important and that no worldview is beneficial for gaining truth. It worships the human race as the human race and preaches that unity among persons is the end-goal of humankind. This is false. While we do need to be committed to serving one another in love, and while we are not to cause violence as individuals; our end goal is to worship the Creator of the universe: the God who created people in His very image. This necessarily means that I will not experience unity with those who worship self, entertainment, comfort, Allah, Krishna or the flying spaghetti monster; for my unity is with Christ, and in Christ’s name I will love all of these people and serve them. This brings us to the final chapter of Revelation:
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.”
Blessed are those…
Throughout John’s letter, there is constant imagery declaring that Christ alone is the righteous judge, that only in His death can any person be made pure and that only in His resurrection can any person receive eternal life. In this final chapter, John proclaims a blessing on those who have washed their robes (those who have submitted to Christ and have been cleansed in His death). They have received the truth and they have recognized the only righteous judge. They will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city (the New Jerusalem) by the gates.
He also condemns the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. All of those who deny Christ will not be with God! The dangers of the coexist philosophy become obvious:
- If social cohesion (or unity among people) is the end goal, a seeking for and a proclamation of the truth becomes unimportant. Ideas are no longer freely expressed and unity becomes blinding. People no longer question their leaders. There is no accountability. There is no humility. There is no love. People are to be unified and the human race is god.
- Every worldview is extinguished for the sake unity, which itself becomes a worldview. Truth and freedom are disregarded for the sake of keeping the peace: even though this is not a necessary prerequisite. Coexists is an altogether incoherent philosophy.
- Peace is not achieved regardless because the coexist philosophy fails to address the true cause of violence between people: selfishness. The cause for violence is not a difference in worldview, it is the inability of people to remain humble. Humility is not achievable in deifying the human race. Therefore, a coexist philosophy would perpetuate violence instead of solving the problem.
Mandates for the Christian
Considering all of this, there are several mandates for the Christian.
- Always glorify God.
- If we were made in God’s image, we should not seek to glorify ourselves or to lift the human race up onto a pedestal for which it was not created.
- Always live and speak according to the Gospel.
- If God is the standard for truth and He has revealed Himself in scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ, we have an obvious authority by which to live.
- Always remain humble
- We should not quarrel with others, but instead speak to them with the love of Christ. We stand against what is wrong and we are willing to change when we are wrong.
- We always serve each other and those outside the faith and use every opportunity to share with them the love of Christ.
To all of those who wish to use scripture to defend their own lifestyle rather than allowing it to convict them; to all who declare that there is a universal worldview or that all worldviews are synonymous; and to all those who deify the human race or worship any false god, the warning in scripture is clear:
I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book.
Christ is coming. He is the only truth and the only way to eternal life. It is only in Him that we can please God. Anyone who teaches or argues differently (either adding or taking away from this book) will receive due punishment. I can live peacefully with those around me for the sake of the Gospel, but I cannot submit to any form of the coexist philosophy.
 Revelation 22:14-16 (HCSB)
 James 4:1-4 (James addresses people who were quarreling with one another, all claiming to be of the same faith. Unity in this sense does not prevent violence, humility does.)
 Revelation 22:18-19 (HCSB)