The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

Implications of Liberalism, Part Four

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Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Relativism

Allan Bloom writes:

“There is one thing that a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” [1]

Progressivism seeks to move past Scripture and to be free to find truth in a variety of methods and resources. Relativism is a “philosophical theory asserting that there is no absolute truth, only truth relative to the individual, or to a particular time or culture, or both. To put it another way, relativism may be defined as the radical denial of objectivity.” [2]

It is an obvious offspring of the presuppositions of progressivism.

“The doctrine that no ideas or beliefs are universally true but that all are, instead, ‘relative’ – that is, their validity depends on the circumstances in which they are applied.” [3]

“It is the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved.” [4]

“‘Relativism’ is a philosophical theory asserting that there is no absolute truth, only truth relative to the individual, or to a particular time or culture, or both. To put it another way, relativism may be defined as the radical denial of objectivity.” [5]

“Relativism says that truth isn’t fixed by outside reality, but is decided by a group or individual for themselves.” [6]

The philosophy of relativism is so pervasive in our society that most have accepted it without realizing they have done so. It is seen in the excuses we utilize to absolve ourselves from guilt. The situational ethics we effortlessly employ stem from this doctrine.

A perfect example is a caller to a radio show in Atlanta.

“At one particular time, the subject matter had narrowed down to how young adults and teenagers  evaluate what makes a person good or bad.

The next caller was Natalie, a 17-year-old girl who lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and achieves a B+ average in school. As her comments continued, it became clear that Natalie judged her own life by what others around her were doing and saying. Her moral and ethical standards did not come from the Bible or from standards taught to her by her parents. Her standards were based solely upon what was acceptable to her peers-those ‘wise’ counselors who encourage individualism but all dress, act, and speak the same.

As Natalie vainly described her lifestyle, it was amazing to realize her total removal from reality and moral responsibility. She said she did not sleep around-she only has sex with her boyfriend (whoever that is that particular week). She does not drink alcohol-except at parties (which she attends several times a week). She defensively sighed, ‘I’m not bad, not like the others.’ She claims she only smokes pot about two times during the school week and occasionally before school in the morning-but not as much as most kids. When she goes to school stoned, the teachers know it, but no one mentions it. According to Natalie, most kids in her high school smoke pot mixed with LSD ‘because they go together so well.’ She has tried it, but does not smoke it regularly (only a few times a month). Natalie admits, ‘Pot definitely affects my memory, definitely. There’s a lot I can’t remember. But everybody does it! I don’t do it like the others. Not as often.’ Natalie justified herself by saying, ‘I’m not bad, not like the others. I think I’m a pretty good person, I haven’t killed anybody. I know it’s wrong to do drugs, but it’s the only thing I do wrong. I’m a pretty good person. I haven’t killed anybody yet!’ The announcer was stunned, ‘Are you telling me, because you haven’t killed anyone-yet-that makes you a good person?’ In a matter-of-fact way Natalie replied, ‘Well, yes!’ [7]

Relativism requires so many lies and deceptions that conflict in required. The human mind wants peace and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal. If necessary, we will twist words and ideas to ensure that things come out positively for us.

Denial and rationalization are infinitely creative.

Natalie wanted to smoke marijuana, drink alcohol and commit fornication so she found those who were more active, so she could feel better about her behavior. She convinced herself that society demanded that she engage in these activities in order to be accepted.

A progressive can preach that there is no absolute truth and then demand that a thief who pilfered items from their house be incarcerated. Never mind that they’ve claimed that each person has the right to their own truth, thus allowing the thief the justification to exercise his right to possess their belongings.

In a world without a standard of truth, the thief would be wholly justified. Moreover, without absolutes, there could not be any laws and criminals would have the right to act as they choose.

If murder was the best way to handle conflict for one person and not for the another, the latter would have to allow the former the proper exercise of his beliefs. Pedophiles and necrophiliacs would be free to participate in their avowed beliefs, according to relativism. However, very few relativists will go this far.

Possibly, these ambiguities are why the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has said, “Moral relativism has the unusual distinction – both within philosophy and outside it – of being attributed to others, almost always as a criticism, far more often than it is explicitly professed by anyone.” [8]

A few years ago in a Worldwide Anglican Conference the subject of Biblical authority was fiercely being debated. Eventually, the African bishop asked in exasperation, “If you don’t believe the scripture, why did you bring it to us in the first place?'” [9]

Progressivism sees the problems of a changing culture and larger religious world and comes back to Scripture for verification to adapt to the shifting times.

As the culture changes, truth evolves to match up with the new reality. Liberals see the culture as the standard rather than holding resolutely to the kingdom of God, regardless of where the culture leads.

Citations

[1] Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 25.

[2] Progressive website has been suspended.

[3] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/relativism

[4] Progressive website has been suspended.

[5] Ibid.

[6]  Dennis McCallum, General Editor, The Death of Truth (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996), 31.

[7] http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/CGG/ID/456/Moral-Relativism.

[8] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-relativism/

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2 thoughts on “Implications of Liberalism, Part Four

  1. Pingback: Implications of Liberalism, Part Five | The Moving Word

  2. Pingback: Series on Liberalism | The Moving Word

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