About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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What's Wrong With Relativism?

Pope Benedict the 16th has become the new pope for the Catholic Church. He believes that "relativism is an enemy of the church", and he is right.

Those who believe in "relativism" believe that there is no absolute truth. They believe that all truth is relative to the individual and that there is no standard for truth to be judged by. This means that whatever you believe may be truth for you, but not necessarily truth for anyone else. We are all free to formulate our own version of the truth.

This line of reasoning is altogether illogical. By definition, something that is considered to be true is called truth. It is therefore logical to say that truth can’t be true for you and untrue for me. If something is true, it is true for everyone, or else it is not true.

Here’s an example. One plus one equals two. This is a true statement. Relativism might suggest that this mathematical equation might be true for me, but not for you. How ridiculous. No matter how you add, one plus one will always equal two, whether you believe it or not.

You might suggest that my mathematical example is has no relevance to this discussion. Not so. If I can provide you with one example of something that is universally true, then the likelihood of other things being universally true is a real probability. Therefore, not everything is relative. Some things are absolutely true.

So the new Pope is right. Relativism has presented itself as a real problem for Christians. Just to be clear, Christians are not relativists. We believe that there is an absolute universal truth, and this truth is found in the Bible. To be specific, our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth. (John 14:6) Ultimately anything that is considered to be true finds its roots of truthfulness in Jesus, even mathematical equations.

I have always said that I am not a Christian for any benefit that I derive from being a Christian, including Heaven. I am a Christian only because I have come to understand that Jesus Christ our Lord is the central truth of the universe. This being so, I have no other logical choice to make than to give myself to Him and the truth He represents.

There is a problem with becoming a Christian in order to benefit from your faith. For example, if you are told that when you become a Christian you will always be happy, you will encounter disappointment. When you discover that the Christian life has its times of sadness, you may doubt the validity of your decision to become a Christian since it was based on a notion of perceived happiness. I have seen many fall from faith because of such false expectations. Yet if your decision to give your life to Jesus is based on your understanding that He is ultimate truth, you are less likely to fall away.

Those who preach the gospel should understand what I am saying. Too often we as Evangelicals have preached "a gospel of getting". That is, come to Jesus and you get to go to Heaven, you get to be happy, you get financially secure, and so on. We should preach that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, meaning that being the final authority in the universe (Lord) He has sacrificed Himself for our salvation Christ). If you understand this gospel, you have no other logical choice to make than to accept His Lordship over your life, no matter the outcome. This is what being a Christian is all about.

Being raised in an Evangelical church I often heard that I needed to accept Jesus as Saviour, that is, get saved, get forgiven, get to go to Heaven – "the gospel of getting" . Then later on try to make Jesus your Lord. This 2 step salvation message is not Scriptural. You become a Christian by giving your life to Jesus the Lord, the absolute truth, resulting in you receiving His salvation.

Do you think that the apostle Paul became a Christian for the benefits he would receive, especially earthly benefits? He certainly didn’t. He benefited very little in a material sense from his faith. In fact he was told from the very beginning that he would suffer because of the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:16) Paul anticipated a much better life to come. Then what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus? He was confronted with Jesus, and once meeting Him, he understood that He was the Lord, or ultimate truth. (Acts 9:5) Paul had no other logical choice to make than to give himself to the truth. He forsook everything dear to his life, including his life’s breathe to follow Jesus. Paul was never disappointed with his decision. At times he despaired of life itself, but he was never disappointed in Jesus. (2 Cor. 1:8)

Here is another point to consider concerning "relativism". For those of us who are Canadians, (Americans are not far behind us) we understand what the term "multiculturalism" means. The foundation for multiculturalism is "relativism". If there is no absolute truth, then no one person, culture or religion can claim ultimate truth. We can no longer judge anyone’s perception of truth because there is no final authority to base a judgment on. Therefore without a standard to judge by, we are all equally correct in our beliefs.  

The Bible teaches that absolute truth is found in Jesus alone. This makes true Christians exclusive in an all inclusive society. If this brands us as fundamentalists and extremists, so be it. We will stand up for what we believe is truth. Paul, Peter, James and others gave their lives for this truth, and if need be, we will too. In the mean time, we will live as those who represent the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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