This comes up often enough that we might as well face it head on. For example, recent exchanges on Tom Talbotts questions/critical comments; Same sex relationships thread. Especially the comments by roofus.
So the critique goes like this; secularists, liberals, see “truth” as “relative” to the individual. They see this in response to those who see “truth” as fixed and centered and defined. So “it” may seem like truth to you, but it does not, and need not, be truth to me. Thus, your “truth” – seen clearly by you – does not necessarily apply to me. So, I’m thinking, for example, of a lovely little book titled “True for You, but not for Me” by Paul Copan (Bethany House publishers) which is pretty straightforward apologetics.
Not all truth claims carry equal weight; therefore there must be an objective measure against which one can measure these claims. Since we cannot agree on who/what to measure against, maybe we really measure against mere human perceptions. Hence, relativism. That is, the measure of truth is not “God” but is in essence only “us” – since even our concepts of “God” are really, if we are faithfully honest, a reflection of how WE see these things.
You claim to see – and contain – the (or at least “a”) pure revelation of God? By all means go with that – if that’s what you see and envision. Except I too have my own visions and they reveal to me … X – which varies from how you are perceiving things. So even a claim to see God clearly is, itself, relative. You claim that the bible is your guide. That’s wonderful. Except realize that all you are seeing is* your* interpretation of the bible; thereby incorporating a relativism that makes you supreme.
You see, of course, the dilemma I hope. Sure; I’m quite happy for you that you see truth so clearly. But how can you deny that part of this clarity derives from your own personal perceptions – and how are you so confident that your perceptions pertain to me?? ie what about MY perceptions? That sort of thing…
Now, as fate would have it, I will travel and enjoy the company of two of my very best friends in a couple weeks; a Jew, and Muslim. The Jew is deeply secular (and an agnostic of my favorite kind; much like our own beloved Jeff A!), the Muslim is very devout – and relishes my willingness to discuss all things religion and God with him. If God ordains that these men be my neighbors for eternity, I could not be happier!! And we talk – openly – about each others beliefs. And let me say this; Galations 5: 22-23 really confuses me here (or does it?) because each of these men display a character of genuine peace and nobility and trustworthiness that confounds me; for when I see such joy, peace, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in these men, how can I BUT imagine the workings of the Spirit of God in them?
So sure – give me the bible as foundation of all expressed and articulated truths. But must I accept YOUR assessment of their contents? Does God not enoble and empower ME to read them for MYself and, in His grace come to my own conclusions? And what then shall we do if our readings differ – and vary?
That’s the problem with relativism; real, yet problematic…
All quite humbling (maybe not so bad)
PS – how could I forget!! UR becomes a huge comfort to me in this dynamic. Through it, I MAY be faithful to my own convictions, yet still open to the idea that God is speaking to (for example) my friends of other faiths to HIS good purpose. UR is greatly liberating in this regard; I am open – and encouraged! – to speak truth as I see it… Knowing that the Spirit of Truth reaches every heart open to Him… UR has made me better friends with these men! Yes, I disarm them immensely when I tell them we WILL spend eternity together; due to the character of the God I worship!