WORLD VIEWS

RELATIVISM - HEDGING ABOUT WITH THE TRUTH [2]

Following on from last week's brief analysis of relativism we will now look at five key biblical absolutes which stand in strong contrast and opposition to the emptiness and variability of relativism:

In contrast to relativism the Bible teaches and historic Christianity believes:

[1] The Bible is the Word of God.

The Bible claims to be true (Psalm 119:142,151,160). It claims that what it says God says (2Peter 1:21) and that its origin is God himself (2Peter 1:21; 2Timothy 3:16). As such it has the final, authoritative say in matters of faith and action. To those who might argue that the Bible is outdated, that its teachings were applicable only to past generations, it responds: ‘the word of our God stands forever’ (Isaiah 40:8) and ‘your word, O Lord, is eternal’ (Psalm 119:89a). Because truth is absolute it is of necessity eternally relevant. [Note: Don’t confuse ‘relevant’ which means applicable, and ‘relative’ which means proportional to something else.] Because God’s word is absolute truth any addition to it or subtraction from it immediately renders the resultant information or understanding less than truth. Absolute truth is complete in itself. It cannot be changed. It is final.

[2] There is only one God. 

This is an absolute statement. There are those who would relativise it, teaching that all gods are manifestations of the one god, or local expressions of the universal god concept, or such like. The Bible allows no such idea. Yes. It speaks of other ‘gods’; it acknowledges that people worship these other ‘gods’, but it denies the essential reality of these ‘gods’. They are powerless, counterfeit and empty, the creations of men (Deuteronomy 4:35,39; 6:4; 7:9; Isaiah 43:10-13; 44:6-20; Jeremiah 2:9-13).

[3] Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only ‘way’ to God.

Right around the world the one question which is common to all religions is: how does a human being gain contact and/or acceptance  with ‘god’?

This question presupposes that the questioner knows who or what ‘god’ is. Before confronting and answering this question Biblical Christianity first confronts this presupposition. No one, it teaches, knows God, unless they know Jesus Christ. To see Jesus Christ is to see God. To know Jesus Christ is to know God. In fact, Jesus Christ is God. If we do not honour him as God then we are not honouring God. (John 1:1; 5:23; 8:19; 10:30; 14:6-9;  Romans 9:5; 1John 5:20). It is in Jesus Christ that God is fully and finally revealed (Colossians 1:15,19; 2:2b,3,9; Hebrews 1:1-3).

These are exclusive and absolute claims, offensive to the modern ear. Yet these are claims clearly made in the Bible. When the church departs from these Biblical absolutes and embraces other god concepts as also truth, or when it teaches or assumes that there is more truth about God beyond Jesus Christ, it has departed from the Biblical faith and fallen prey to relativism.

Having anchored our knowledge and concept of God firmly in Jesus Christ the Bible affirms yet another absolute, non-negotiable truth: the only way a human being can approach God, or gain access into the presence of God, or union with God, is through Jesus Christ. Jesus himself put it succinctly: ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). This statement of Christ’s excludes all other proposed ways of approaching God. The relativistic ‘all roads lead to God’ mentality is diametrically opposed to this Biblical absolute.

[4] There is no one righteous, not even one …. all have sinned (Romans 3:10,23)

We love to relativise sin. We give ourselves all sorts of excuses and escape routes. We say things like ‘I’m not as bad as….’, or ‘I did my best under the circumstances ….’, or ‘it was only a little sin…’, or ‘it’s not as if I murdered someone ….’. We disguise sin by calling it something else: making a mistake, slipping up, goofing it. We kid ourselves that somehow there is something in our performance that God will find acceptable.

But the Bible states clearly: absolutely not! No one is righteous, that is, no one is legally right in God’s sight. All are legally disqualified. No one, on the basis of his/her own performance, has a legal right to enter the presence of God and be accepted by God. It is into this situation of our absolute inability to be accepted by God that the Son of God came with his gift of absolute salvation.

[5] The gift of God is eternal life.

The gift of salvation given to those who believe in Jesus Christ is absolute. Jesus described it as eternal life (John 3:16; 11:25), as never being hungry or thirsty ever again (John 6:35), as living in light rather than darkness (John 8:12), as having been removed from condemnation (John 3:16-18). Paul describes it as ‘fullness’ (NIV) or being ‘complete’ (KJV, Colossians 2:10), as the forgiveness of all sins (Colossians 2:13) and as receiving no condemnation (Romans 8:1). None of these salvation words is relative. None is conditional. They are all absolute.

With these five foundational Biblical absolutes firmly fixed in our minds let us throw off the crippling, stifling effects of the relativism that has permeated our lives.

A final comment: Relativism makes one absolute statement: it says: there are no absolutes – no absolute truth, no absolute right or wrong, no absolute reality. It allows itself the freedom to make this absolute statement, but denies us the right to make the opposite absolute statements that there are absolutes – absolute truth, absolute right and wrong, and absolute reality.  Thus relativism is only relativism when it pleases.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2011