Six human traits that explain the left-right divide

Moral Foundations Theory

If you read social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’’s books, especially The Righteous Mind, or watch his TED talk on moral foundations you might note he studiously avoids any direct reference to Christianity, while directing his audience to eastern religious traditions to give his position some colour.  Like my critique of Jordan Peterson (see my blog) you will find my views related to Jonathan follows a similar tack. Both men have spent their adult lives trying to scientifically resolve the human condition. While I’m not opposed to that it is galling for an evangelical Christian, who knows the research was unnecessary when the Bible made clear many of their conclusions several millennia ago.  On the other hand it is fascinating that behavioural psychologists unwittingly confirm biblical instruction on the human condition.

They have also done the Church a sort of backhanded service by highlighting its failure to be the teacher and conscience of the societies Christianity nurtured into the most successful civilisation in history. Both men in combination have made a far greater public square impact on the Western world over recent years, using Bible confirming wisdom, than the Church has done for 40 years. That’s because the Western Church has confined itself to the wilderness of personal piety, while conducting forays into the world in the forlorn hope it might ward off its slow strangulation by vehemently anti-Christian liberalism. 

Jonathan’s Moral Foundations Theory begins by categorised people according to their ideological persuasion on a continuum from very liberal to very conservative. He and his colleagues then surveyed these people against six ‘foundations’ or traits:

·         Care: Cherishing and protecting others.

·         Fairness: Rendering justice according to shared rules.

·         Loyalty: Standing with your group, family, nation (opposite: betrayal).

·         Authority: Respect for tradition and legitimate authority.

·         Sanctity: Abhorrence for disgusting things.

·         Liberty (opposite: oppression).

After gathering a large sample and cross checking it against cultural and religious traditions they discovered the liberal mind is strongly bent towards fairness and care while conservatives embrace all six traits.  This helps explain why activist liberals are so vehemently anti-conservative. They refuse to accept the validity of the other four traits, taking that rejection into a sinister place. They believe they are retrograde and dangerous, making conservatives that “basket of deplorables and irredeemables” Hillary Clinton so derided. Six-trait conservatives are far right fascists.  They are beyond the pale; ignore them, label them, ostracise them.  This is pure fascist behaviour.  They even go so far with Antifa and student mobs to physically attack conservatives and close down free association and free speech.  This is brown shirt and jackboot behaviour. 

That aside; evangelicals and Jonathan have to part company at some point.  Conservatives embrace all six traits because they tend to be Christian or sail close to Christianity. All the traits are taught as essentials in in the Bible.  Jonathan’s research was not necessary to know they exist, or to realise that when some of them are missing in a cohort of people it is because we are ‘fallen’.  Jordan Peterson recognises this, but he attributes it to evolution not rebellion against the living God.  Under the right conditions, especially those imposed on us by the cultural Marxists over the last half century, the cultural Christian character in the West was bound to erode.

If you go to the five core principles at the heart of the Next Generation Church Strategy and look at them with reference to Jonathan’s six traits it’s possible to see the latter’s genesis in the principles. The care and fairness traits are locked into the love your neighbour principle.  All six traits are encompassed by the made in God’s image principle.  Look at them.  Are there any that you would say are not integral to God’s triune character? No, they are all there so God would in making us in his image embody them all in us. If you went to just two books of the Bible – Psalms and Proverbs you would be able to pick up Jonathan’s six traits time and again. Loyalty would have a lot to do with individual responsibility and loving one’s neighbour.  Authority and sanctity are essential if one is to obey God’s commands.  Free will relates to all six traits because the exercise of human will should be about making choices that respect all of them.  Godly character demands it.

The success of the cultural Marxists has been occult to the core of their ideas.  By emphasising the deconstruction of truth (postmodernism), playing on identity politics, over socialising the state, exaggerating individual rights and entitlement, re-writing western history and using the coercive tools of political correctness they have created a crippling division by separating off the care and fairness traits from the other four.  Christianity always integrates all six, liberalism uses the first two against the other four.  If this is allowed to continue the divisions will grow wider within the West and some sort of reckoning will have to come.  It is likely to end in tears unless the Church steps into this divide and seeks to unify the culture by re-joining all six traits within the five core Christian world view principles using the 12 reforms as the ‘operating system’.  This is the Next Generation Church Strategy at the cultural level; remembering, of course, that its primary purpose is evangelistic, not political. Were the NGC Strategy to take hold Liberalism will be shunted aside and cultural recovery will happen.  If the Church does not act a dark age is looming.

Go to the material on the 12 Reforms on this site and click on the essential reading by the same name to grasp the importance of the reforms as an evangelistic tool.