Discuss: Surviving the Battlefield of Ideals

Concepts like fulfillment, happiness, justice, love, and flourishing are all needs that pour out of every human heart, regardless of differing worldviews or belief systems. The world tells us it’s up to each of us to define these for ourselves, but is that true? Max Jeganathan suggests that defining these concepts in our own strength actually poses a huge challenge. What do we need to do to rediscover these concepts in the marketplace of ideas?

One thing that is always kind of constant in humankind’s search for flourishing is an accompanying marketplace of ideas.

The marketplace of ideas has been destabilized by a battlefield of ideals.

Utility is a good thing, optimizing pleasure that seems sensible; freedom is a good thing, optimizing that seems sensible; and purpose seems to be a good thing too. But the problem of course…is that each of these three things have no objective frame of reference.

This is the problem with a world where we don’t have an objective frame of reference for things like justice: we start thinking and we’re trained to think of people who disagree with us as lesser people or, even worse, as less than people. We’ve dehumanized the concept of justice.

It’s the transcendent imputation of intrinsic value on all people bringing the concept of justice back to life, re-humanizing it.

We see now what love has lost when we try and define it on our own selfish terms: it’s lost truth, it’s lost sacrifice, it’s lost that capacity to bind itself exclusively to what it wants the best for.

As we saw it with justice, as we saw it with love, what God offers in the context of happiness is not just quantitatively different to what the world offers, it’s not just lots and lots and lots of happiness, it’s qualitatively different - it’s joy.

Christian joy is based on internal and eternal spiritual realities, the ultimate of which is being in a right relationship with God.

[God is] not just the standard of justice, the standard of love, and the standard of joy; He’s the means to justice, the means to love, and the means to joy.

Make it Personal

  • How do we avoid allowing our pursuit of justice from becoming “self-righteous point scoring”?

  • If God is the standard of and means to joy, what is the proper place for things like friends and a bucket of fried chicken that can bring us happiness?

  • If the Christian conception of justice, love, and joy are qualitatively different from what the world offers, what does it look like to take these to the “battlefield of ideals” in our current time?