The Myth Of Relativism

From : https://lifehopeandtruth.com/discern/november-december-2019/the-abyss-of-moral-relativism/

Recently on the For The King Podcast, we recorded an episode with an identical title to that of this blog. This topic is massively broad and an accompanying blog post may help flesh everything out. First lets define some terms

rel·a·tiv·ism/ˈrelədəˌvizəm/ noun

  1. the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.1

If you are familiar to the philosophical discussion on relativism, you often hear it talked about in relation to morality (cultural relativism). Cultural relativism purports that the reasoning for differences in cultural morality is because morality is actually up to cultures to decide and not transcendent above cultural attitudes. This is a tempting thought because it seems so empirically verifiable. Just look at all of these others cultures and they get along fine! Some cultures include cannibalism, polyamory, abortion, etc. These cultural differences are just unique to each culture and no one culture has a monopoly on morality. There are ,however, different forms of relativism. A more strict view would say that each society is entitled to its own relative cultural norms and practices that manifest in morality, and that no outside culture has a right to judge or speak into that morality. This would lead to being forced to accept the Nazi party’s justification for the holocaust and chalk it up to difference in thought based on cultural differences. This is obviously a silly thought as all people cry out for justice against such things and condemn the obvious evils of the Nazi party.

So what is another alternative view? Cultural relativism can try and save itself by saying that we must be critical of some practices in each society based on why that society is pushing such a practice. Such a view that actually makes a judgment on perspectives can hardly be called relative anymore. If there is ever a standard invoked by a thinker then that standard now becomes the final authority. To make a judgement is to appeal to a higher authority. Modernity proposed that truth is found in the individual, but post-modernity claims that there is no truth. That even the truth for oneself isn’t really capital T truth, but rather just what’s true for you. I hope you can see that slight difference. Modernity was characterized by rationality and whatever one could reach from reason is the final authority of truth, but indeed capital T truth itself. Post-modernity and relativism purports that there is no capital T truth that is binding on all people like rationality was binding for modernity.

The pitfall of relativism (in both forms laid out above) lies in its logical contradiction from its foundation. To say the statement such as “there is no truth” is a capital T truth, is it not? To say that it is absolutely true that there is no truth is in itself a truth. With such a contradiction present one is forced to change their worldview. Why must they change? Their starting assumption of something as basic as truth is flawed. Is there a way out for someone that holds such a position? Yes, however, the only way out is to admit absurdity and try your best to live life based on such foolish principles. Even to rebuttal with a statement such as “well, there is truth we just can’t understand it.” Well my friend, can you understand that statement of truth? If so then you have walked yourself into another contradiction.

This short polemic against relativism could have much more to say but I want to equip the Christian to push the antithesis of such foolish worldviews. There are professors, politicians, scientist, legislators, and many more of our societies leaders that think these thoughts. We must be quick to admit the supremacy of Christ and his Word as THE truth. Jesus says in John 14:6 that he is the truth. All epistemological2 foundations are found in Christ and his Word. I hope to release another blog post soon expounding on the epistemological stronghold of Christ and the epistemological skepticism that comes with naturalism, relativism, post-modernity and the like.

In conclusion, do not let the unbeliever off the hook with such statements. If they commit logical fallacies hold them to that and don’t let them out of that until they give you a satisfactory answer. So many Christians give up in their apologetic when the unbeliever spouts such nonsense. We must be prepared to push the antithesis of their view (thesis). If they don’t except truth don’t give up but press them until they confess themselves consistent in their worldview or admit the folly of their views.

1.)https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100412717#:~:text=The%20doctrine%20that%20knowledge%2C%20truth,context%2C%20and%20are%20not%20absolute.

2.) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epistemology

epistemology

noun

epis·​te·​mol·​o·​gy | \ i-ˌpi-stə-ˈmä-lə-jē  \

Definition of epistemology

the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity

The Importance of Christology

Christology is one of the most important fields of theology. Christology brings a few presuppositions to the table, however, that must be rendered true for any real work to be done in the field. Namely, that Christ exists and existed as a man 2000 years ago along with the writings that we have about his life being trustworthy. If these two points stand then we can begin understanding the nature of the person of Jesus Christ. Bryce and I have just started a series on the podcast titles “Christology”, so I thought an accompanying blog about the importance of Christology would help the For The King community.

What Christology is Not

Christology, because of its presuppositions, does not labor to prove that Jesus was a real person that existed. It also, does not set out to prove that Jesus is the son of God. Christology, as a subject, is under the more broad heading of “theology”. Theology, as many know, is the study of God, and if Christology is going to be considered under that heading then we are already assuming Christ to be God himself. Christology is not an endeavor to know “about” a person in the sense that the world would study Immanuel Kant’s writings, but rather to know the true and living God as presupposed in the field.

What Christology Is

Christology is the study of the person of Christ. The God-man Jesus Christ incarnated into our material world that we might see him and know the true and living God.

“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

John 17:25-26

He was also incarnated that he might bear our sins as a man, being that blood is the only way for the remission of sins.

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

Hebrews 9:22

Christology however, largely concerned with Jesus’ work as an incarnated man, is also concerned with the pre-incarnate Christ that has existed co-ordinate with the father before time ever began.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

John 8:58-59

So, it is easy to see from scripture that Jesus, being God himself, has much more to him to understand than what a secular university may describe as “Jesus Christ” in a history of religion course. The world largely recognizes the existence of the person of Christ (see the our podcast episode titled “Q/A With a Friend: Can the Bible be Trusted?“) as a historical figure. You must be a fool to reject that claim. The number of biblical, and extrabiblical resources are a wave of evidence that most atheists drown beneath when they utter such claims. When the atheist passes, there will be more evidence that Christ exists that they themselves ever existed. This is why if we take Jesus, to be who he truly was, then all other pieces of orthodox theology come into place. The question can be framed, is Jesus a liar, lunatic, legend, or LORD?

Christology, concerned with the incarnation of Christ, also looks into the life of Christ and gleans the reality of the second person of the trinity as he reveals himself to us in the incarnation. However, Jesus’ claims about his divinity and being himself God, call us into much deeper study of the person of Christ. This main claim of Christology, makes accurate Christology a matter of orthodoxy, and heresy for those that would attack his deity. This is exclaimed here by the apostle Paul.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

If Jesus is not himself God, having the power over death to be raised to life in victory over death, then we are a people to be pitied. If Jesus is not the Christ then we are did in out sins and mine and your faith is futile and we have believed in vain. This is why I conclude and carry in further detail in the podcast that Jesus our Lord and savior is eternally God, pre-incarnate, incarnate, prophet, priest, and finally OUR KING.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

This is material for EVERY Christian. Our faith is predicated on Jesus Christ. Christology is not for the theologian in the ivory tower but for all of us. The laymen is a reflection of the state of the church. If the church does not know who Christ is, then we will soon forget him in capitulation with the Christ the world delivers us, the antichrist.

My Current Position on Natural Law

I have done many podcasts that involve a concept in theology and political/moral philosophy termed, “Natural Law”. From the vision cast from my first blog titled “purpose”, this entry will show the application of that vision. Natural law itself could be a great podcast in and of itself but I would like to get something in writing that describes my personal view on the subject currently before any more damage is done by the concept being present on my podcast.

How One Is Saved

As a Christian I believe that Jesus alone is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6) and that the Word of God alone is the conduit by which mankind can be saved. Jesus makes it clear that no one can come to the father except through him! I can back this up easily with scripture,

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.Romans 10:13-17

Paul clearly lays out here that faith, which is the way in which we receive grace by God (Ephesians 2:8), comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ which is the good news of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God and how the saints are to live is the point of the redemptive history of God which is contained in the holy scriptures. So revelation is the only way in which someone can be saved. Someone who has no one to preach to them are unable to reason or logically bring themselves to mentally ascend to the God of the universe Yahweh. It must be revealed by preaching or reading the word of God. It was a mystery hidden for ages and has now been revealed in Christ.

What Natural Law Is and Isn’t

A quick google search of Natural Law produces this result,

Natural law is a theory in ethics and philosophy that says that human beings possess intrinsic values that govern our reasoning and behavior. Natural law maintains that these rules of right and wrong are inherent in people and are not created by society or court judges.” -From Investopedia.com 1

Many philosophers and political theorists have maintained this position until recently. It was very popular during the enlightenment thought because human reason was elevated to virtual god status and worshipped itself. There are two ways to reach Natural Law theory. Either from scripture being rooted in revelation, or from human reason alone and the revealed scriptures just happen to align with the thinking. For the former, theologians can point to texts like this to support the claim that Natural Law is rooted in scripture and the words of God,

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.Romans 2:14-16

Natural Law theorists that root themselves primarily in human reason and not by virtue of revealed scripture and being made in the image of God would reason like this.

“Natural law can be discovered by reason alone and applies to all people, while divine law can be discovered only through God’s special revelation and applies only to those to whom it is revealed and whom God specifically indicates are to be bound. Thus some seventeenth-century commentators, Locke included, held that not all of the 10 commandments, much less the rest of the Old Testament law, were binding on all people. The 10 commandments begin “Hear O Israel” and thus are only binding on the people to whom they were addressed (Works 6:37). As we will see below, even though Locke thought natural law could be known apart from special revelation, he saw no contradiction in God playing a part in the argument, so long as the relevant aspects of God’s character could be discovered by reason alone.” – Locke’s Political Philosophy, 20052

The bible would claim that reason alone cannot bring one to a comprehensive understanding of the Natural Law. I say this because in Romans 2:15, Paul clearly shows us that this law that is written on the hearts of gentiles (all humans other than the Jews), and that law will either accuse or excuse their actions. They can very well understand that some things are evil and wrong but they can never reach a full understanding of the Natural Law. Some societies reach a consensus based on reason that cannibalism is okay and some reach a consensus that it is not. However that same society that cannibalizes each other can understand that stealing is wrong while the society that does not cannibalize may permit theft. Our ability to reason has been severely altered by the fall. It is no longer what it once was before the fall. So, it seems clear to me that Natural Law only stretches so far based on the way one reasons in a certain society. The Natural Law theorist that roots it in the ability to reason well has departed from what is revealed in scripture because there is no category for reasoning well enough to understand the full law of God.

John Locke was a deist which means that his god is not imminent. He is far away and not acting in the world. He wound us up with reason to figure it out. The same is true of one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who famously ripped out all stories in his bible that contained miracles because these stories clearly show God acting imminently. They do not think God can interact with us in that way. Instead Thomas Jefferson only kept the parts of his bible that corresponded to things he could reason himself to.

So, the fundamental difference between the two paths to Natural Law is that one is rooted in scripture and one is in human reason, yet human reason plays a part in both. The question is where is the root for the Natural Law. I labor to say all this to argue that I am of the former of these two paths to Natural Law. I think our ability to reason has been greatly impacted by the fall and that we cannot fully reason ourselves to God himself or his law he has given us. We have some inkling of both the law and the fact that there is a God. Hence, Paul says this,

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. – Romans 1:19-23

These things can be clearly seen, but it is not enough to save them nor to inform their conduct to be holy and upright. Natural Law can only condemn persons rather than save them. Those salvific things can only be revealed by the Word of Christ when preached or read in space and time. This should cause us to greatly consider our lack of proclaiming the word of God and telling other of the word of Christ, the good news of the kingdom of God. Lets be faithful to this great word that God has given us.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:11

Sources:

(1) – https://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/natural-law.asp#:~:text=Natural%20law%20is%20a%20theory,by%20society%20or%20court%20judges.

(2) – https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/

Purpose

Humans have a natural aversion to things lacking purpose. There is a telos or goal to every thing that humans engage in. Art? A sense of beauty. Reading? Knowledge to be gained. War? domination of others for personal purposes. Even the most seemingly arbitrary of activities have some motivation deep down to the one engaging in it. This blog is not meant to be purposeless but filled to the brim with purpose. Even God himself has a purpose and does no thing arbitrarily, there is always a reason for the things God does. The photon on the outermost regions of the universe expanding outwards does indeed have a purpose.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21

This blog accompanies a podcast titled “For The King”. You can find this podcast on apple podcast, Spotify, anchor.fm, podcast republic, and many other platforms. The accompanying blog to the podcast is not to engage topically with each podcast released. Rather the blog should serve its own purposes while not being entirely disconnected from the podcast. For example, I have already had quite a few podcasts talking about natural law. Instead of doing a blog with every episode that talks about natural law, or any other topic that is touched on, I (or other writers) can develop these blog entries to:

1.) Dive deeper into a topic that either wasn’t covered well but isn’t large enough on its own for an individual podcast. Some topics are much more nuanced than we can give credence to on the podcast platform and need to be written accurately to deal with the heart of the issue.

2.) Engage with ideas that are brought up by listeners

3.) Get to know me, the host of the podcast and owner of this site, Rocky

4.) Invite other bloggers or people with platforms (or without if you feel so inclined) to share their ideas and write as a guest.

5.) Build a sense of community for our listener base and create a platform everyone can engage in.

I imagine the feel of this blog will evolve as time progresses but these are a few preliminary purposes that this blog will accomplish. I want this platform to be a place where those that share a common faith in the LORD Jesus Christ can be encouraged that there are young laypeople that love the LORD, love his word which is truth, and love others. The Bereans embody this activity…

“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11

I want this to be an accurate space where the intellectual rigor of Christianity is shown to be the powerhouse that it is. So many people drift through life without considering the heavier things of reality. I, and I’m sure those that enjoy the podcast, love to think and love to consider. I try my absolute best to truly embody other beliefs and understand the arguments being made while maintaining faithfulness to my own positions. I hope and pray that listeners and readers would send a quick email, or comment on this blog feed, about questions you have or things that you think of so we can work through them. I have always noticed that when you are alone, it is much harder to get much further in your thoughts. Yes, there are savants out in the world that can figure much by themselves. More commonly, I have noticed that when you get one other brain together with your own, much more can be found out. Hence the writer of proverbs says,

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17

God is much closer than anticipated. His fingerprints are all over the universe. He wears galaxies as rings on his fingers. He creates out of nothing. His day is a dreadful day, but for those of us hidden in the cleft of his own son Jesus Christ, there is no fear in judgment. Join me in discussing and finding the truth that has been revealed to us from God.

“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? – Jeremiah 23:23