Relativism – Part 5

Relativism – Part 5

Part 5

The Bible teaches that we live in a fallen world. Sin has so disrupted the moral order that all of creation has been affected. Because of this man is not only in need of redemp­tion but also a moral standard to govern his behavior. Thus we find in the Bible both the message of salvation and also the commandments of God which are meant to regulate behavior.
If there is no God, then there is no absolute standard of morality and consequently no sin. That is, sin is relative in that it is defined by the majority in a society of shifting moral attitudes. What was sin in one generation or culture may not be in another. Those influenced by a Judeo/Christian culture define sin in Biblical terms (i.e., sodomy, forni­cation, lying, taking God’s name in vain, etc.). In the 1920’s the United States defined sin as drinking. Today we define it as denying another equal opportunity and argue that fornication, divorce and sodomy are not sin.


With God process is more important than product, but only because the eternal is more important than the temporal. For example, II Peter 3:10 reminds us that God will burn all things when He returns. But this is not to say that there is no pragmatic value in what we produce. If it is only the process that is important to God, then temporal results would be super­fluous. But results are important to God. It is the ste­warding of our temporal resources that make up part of the basis for our accountability before God (cf. Colossians 3:22-24). The objective or focus, however, must always be eternal.
William Buckley in U from Liberalism notes that for the relativist method is supreme and results are depreciated. For example, in philosophy finding Truth is not what is important but the search for truth. At first glance this seems con­sistent with the statement that “process is more important than product.” With the relativist, however, it is the eternal dimension that is missing – a dimension impossible to hold presupposing that truth is relative.
By instinct people are product rather than process oriented. The businessman wants the “bottom line.” All of us want to know how something is going to turn out. Relativism solves this problem with the promise of a future utopia. This is why most, if not all, relativists are socialistic. Socialism is eschatological and utopian. It is a system that looks to the future for its fulfillment of the ideal. It is a vision of the future in which racism, sexism, nationalism, economic inequality, and nations arming for war will cease to exist.
This “ideal” is an agenda created by man and serves man’s interests as he perceives them. It is at the heart of man s declaration of independence from God in Genesis 3:1-7. It is man seeking to create a system that is man-centered with no need for God.
The Bible is eschatological and utopian as well. It has a future hope in an ideal environment in which man will be at peace and free from want. But it is different from the vision of relativism in that it begins with a cataclysmic event in which Christ returns to rule.
It is God’s vision for man and God-centered. It is the reversal of Genesis 3:1-7 in that for man to participate he must renounce his Independence and de­clare his dependence upon God. Thus man is to live in hope of this event, not trying to bring it about by human reason or effort, but by living under God’s authority as revealed in the Scripture.
In order for man to implement his system he must repudiate the validity of God’s system, for the two are mutually exclu­sive. One is a declaration of dependence on God; the other a declaration of independence from God. Independence from God leads to the repudiation of a transcendent absolute. Right and wrong is decided by the utopian vision. The immediate good is sacrificed for the vision of the future, even if the act is immoral.
An example is found in “Letters to the Editor” in Time magazine (June 29, 1987) where Xiao Zhou wrote, “When guards took everything from my parents during the Cultural Revolution, I was only ten years old. I formed a strong hatred toward ‘counterrevolutionaries,’ although I did not hate my parents, for I thought some leaders had made a mistake by including them. I do not know where my hatred came from. I was too young to be considered a revolutionary. Probably it was the mad atmosphere that twisted my young mind. I still wonder how Mao brought out the most evil aspect in human nature and turned it into madness. Only a few people like Cheng refused to lie in the face of brutality. In order to avoid further mistreatment, most people ‘confessed’ things they had never done until, gradually, lying became a national disease. The love and trust destroyed during that devastating time are still missing in Chinese society. I know I am fighting the sickness I caught 20 years ago.”
In such a system justice is the creation of the state for the achieving of its own ends. The individual and his rights are subservient to the state, for the aim of the state, as Buckley points out, is the establishment of the millennium–without God.
Immanuel Kant said that belief in the soul is the neces­sary footing or foundation for morals and ethics. Without the soul there is no eternal accounting and thus nothing but raw pragmatism to guide life. Decisions are made on the basis of the here and now. There is no need for the soul in a purely temporal system.


In the tangle of complexities that surrounds the Iran-Contra affair it is easy for conservatives to overlook the fact that lying and deviousness with Congress took place. It may be argued that Congress is wrong, but they are our elected representatives with the power to enact laws. Representatives of the Reagan administration lied to Congress to hide Adminis­tration policy.
When President Reagan mined the waters of Nicaragua, Senator Moynihan correctly pointed out that he was breaking International Law in that the U.S. was committing a hostile act against a country it recognized. Moynihan reasoned that if the U.S. wanted to mine Nicaraguan waters, it should break diplo­matic relations and declare war.

In these illustrations those who embrace an absolute standard of morality compromise that standard for the sake of expediency. There is little difference between those who embrace absolutes and then sacrifice them on the altar of expedience and those who repudiate the existence of absolutes.
Thomas Sowell in his A Conflict of Vision notes that when you have no absolute, it is the presence of naked power that impresses – especially as it Is used in accomplishing an agreed upon goal. Thus any excess is either viewed as a necessary “evil” or a defect in the expression of the agreed upon vision. Some believe you must fight fire with fire, and it is necessary to embrace the tactics of the opposition to win. To yield to such a temptation is to become a relativist. To break the law because the cause seems right is to embrace relativism and destroy the last line of defense against Satanism.

Bonded in the Truth,