Coming in early 2009.











       
Relativism & Absolutes | Atheism | Is the Bible Relevant? | Women | Slavery | Judgment | Mary Magdalene? | Politics
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Jamie Johnson
Discourses  · Relativism
Jamie Johnson
Part 1

Relativism & Absolutes

What the world says:

"All is relative."
"There are no absolutes."
"It's ridiculous to say that Jesus is the ONLY way to God. There are many ways."
"What makes you sure you are right?"

These statements are hallmarks to post-modern thought, which also includes constructivism (we create our own realities)

What is the truth?

If "All is relative" is true, then even the statement "All is relative" is relative and it cannot stand. If "All is relative" is true, even the syntax governing this sentence makes it meaningless and even the letters making words would be meaningless as well since this might be a word or sentence to some and not to others and there is no overarching absolute to determine it as such. So, we know from logic and experience that the statement "All is relative" is false. Therefore, to find the truth, we must negate the statement, which yields "All is not relative" or better stated as "Some is relative," which is true. If one considers the true statement "Some is relative," then this implies also that absolute truth exists. Ultimately, absolute says, "one way." This also implies some is absolute (since "All is absolute" is illogical, also, just based on mere observation).

To go with what the world says is like trying to believe statements such as "This sentence does not exist" or "This sentence is false." They make no sense!

Yet, if some is absolute and some is relative, then are they equal in status or is one subject to another? Logically, we can conclude that the relative is subject to the absolute. Imagine an umbrella that is absolute truth. Imagine various relative things beneath the umbrella. And imagine various relative things at varying distances not under the umbrella. Some relative things are closer to absolute truth than others. Some are subsets of absolute truth, while others are not. Some relative things are true and some are not.

CAUTION: Absolute doesn't mean embrace all for that would be like saying, "All is absolute," which is false.

CAUTION: Moral issues are either right or wrong ("black & white"). Preferences or basic differences (such as where one is from, what one eats, etc., "gray areas") are more neutral unless they violate faith, which results in sin (see Romans 14:23).

If Jesus is not the only way to God, then why did He claim to be? Was He a liar? Was He a lunatic? Or was He Lord? Also, if He is not the only way to God, then why did He bother dying on the cross (and even predicting it)?

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." - C.S. Lewis

As far as my (or anyone) considering another wrong because of not ascribing to my beliefs, my response is a resounding, "Of course!" This is true of you, me, and everyone unless one has a serious mental disorder, is a compulsive liar, or is joking. It would be crazy of either of us to insist something was true if we actually knew it was false. It's like the statement, "You always think you're right." Basically, "Of course I think I'm right. Why would I believe in something if I thought it was wrong?" You and I mutually think the other is wrong on some things. We may label it as discourse and disagreement, which it is, but the bottom line is we consider some of the other's beliefs wrong. This supports that we even operate on the notion that there is absolute truth. I believe one way. You believe another. The guy down the street might believe yet another. Which one is closer to absolute truth? If we took everyone in the world and had a survey of beliefs, in view of absolute truth proven to exist logically, some would be close to absolute truth and some would not. Some would believe they were correct and either be right or crazy. Some would know they were wrong, but state it anyway as liars. Jesus believed and stated that no one could come to God unless it was through Him (John 14:6). So, one could also say of Jesus that He was right in saying that and is Lord (He believed it and was correct), or one could say that he was a liar (He knew it was false and was also wrong), or a madman (He believed it and was wrong). How would you answer that question of whether He was a madman, a liar, or Lord?

Regarding relativism and absolutes, what does Scripture say?

Consider the following:











Engage

In considering what's being said, truth and the Bible, how are we to respond to the world when the world says, "All is relative" or other statements above?

Possible Responses











What does that mean?
Does that apply to the statement "All is relative"?
Is that always true?
What is your basis for making that (or any) conclusion?
Tell me what led you to believe that.
If Jesus is not the only way to God, then why did He claim to be? Was He a liar? Was He a lunatic? Or was He Lord? Also, if He is not the only way to God, then why did He bother dying on the cross (and even predicting it)?
So, one could also say of Jesus that He was right in saying that and is Lord (He believed it and was correct), or one could say that he was a liar (He knew it was false and was also wrong), or a madman (He believed it and was wrong). How would you answer that question of whether He was a madman, a liar, or Lord?
Can you show me a better way?
What's your story?

Which response is the most engaging so that it may bring discourse and productive discussion, perhaps even to presenting the Gospel? What are some other possible responses that promote discourse?

How do you respond to someone if s/he does not value logic? Scripture? You may have the former. You'll definitely encounter the latter.

Does sharing stories have a place?