Thursday, July 24, 2008

Relativism and the Catholic Church

Since I've been away for many years, I've slowly been learning what has changed within the Catholic church, and what has stayed the same.

What has changed is a departure from a strong historical and biblical foundation laid by Jesus Christ and passed to St. Peter. How attractive are the philosophies of the world! How easy it is to consider other perspectives and deem them acceptable and right! The fact that many of these perspectives are counter to what God has proclaimed in His Word seems to be beside the point for those on a quest for "enlightenment."

I'm going to quote the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy regarding an explanation of relativism because they did such a good job of it:

Relativism is not a single doctrine but a family of views whose common theme is that some central aspect of experience, thought, evaluation, or even reality is somehow relative to something else. For example standards of justification, moral principles or truth are sometimes said to be relative to language, culture, or biological makeup. Although relativistic lines of thought often lead to very implausible conclusions, there is something seductive about them, and they have captivated a wide range of thinkers from a wide range of traditions.

I admit I'm not very patient with those I call "lazy thinkers." These are people who "go with the flow" of whatever someone else tells them without challenging the premise of the statement.

For example - suppose you were going through a difficult time with the break-up of a romantic relationship. Suppose your friend, Alice, says, "We need to let go of that which is no longer true."

Most people in this circumstance would pause, and then say, "Well, I guess you're right. The relationship is just no longer working for either of us and I need to let it go."

Okay. Cue a huge red sign blinking on and off "THINK MORE!"

What is the real premise of this statement? That truth is relative. That what was once "true" for the person in the relationship is not "true" for them today.

My frustration is that many people do not know how to apply proper definition to their life. They mistakenly think of a preference as a "truth."

For instance, when I was a little girl, I loved canned frosting. My favorite was chocolate. I considered myself enjoying a slice of heaven if my mother baked a chocolate cake with this type of frosting on top. I savored every morsel.

Today? That same type of frosting is much too sweet for me. I much prefer a sprinkling of powdered sugar or even melted semi-sweet chocolate. But I don't care for the canned frosting anymore.

Is that truth? Or is it a preference? It's the latter. When I was a little girl, I preferred canned frosting. Today I don't. A preference is simply that - a preference that can be changed by a multitude of influential factors. It is confusing to name this preference "truth."

Truth isn't a lump of clay to be shaped into whatever form suits our current purposes. It isn't a set of beliefs that exist for one situation but yet not for another. Does this sound extreme? Certainly in today's permissive society where "anything goes" if it "works for them."

Truth is a person. His name is Jesus Christ. It was He who said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Not "one of the ways" to the Father but THE Way. That statement was certainly extreme, certainly black and white.

Truth never changes. God's love for us never changes. His call for a holy people never changes. His requirement that sin be forgiven never changes. Sin has separated God from man since the Garden of Eden. The snake said, "Did God really say..."

And the snake is still saying it today. Believe me. There is no originality when it comes to the devil's schemes.

This relativism has now permeated the Christian church. I saw the same thing in non-Catholic churches and now recognize it in the Catholic church. There are many good Catholics, fighting the good fight, but there are many Catholics who feel they are also fighting the good fight. The only problem is that it is a fight for the preservation of their own flesh. And this is the very thing we are called to crucify. The saints of old didn't become saints by "letting go of what was no longer true" for them. No. They embraced Truth, they laid down their lives for Truth so that Truth would shine forth from them, bright as the noonday sun.

So the battles over women fighting to be priests is just that - a battle for their own preference. They are fighting against truth. The truth hasn't changed. They have. What was once before embraced by them is now "no longer true."

To be honest, I can get confused when I wonder about what is "true" for me. It's much clearer to pursue Truth and obey God's word.

As Mark Twain once said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

Amen, Mark Twain...amen.


Unknown said...

Relativism is what Fulton Sheen called a Thought Saving Device just like a warshing machine in a Labor Saving Device.

I think most people would agree that Thinking is the hardest work you can do!

Elisabeth said...

I think people don't know how to think any more. I believe that teaching the difference between nouns and verbs is the beginning steps of teaching rational thought; basic grammar is no longer part of the public school core curriculum; consequently, we have raised at least two generations who do not know how to do anything more than punch buttons.

And, then, it's just ever so much easier to just roll along and be easy to get along with...

Whatever happened to the Church Militant? We've got a whole subculture of people who are trying to protestantize it to be the Church Entertaining.

Kyrie elieson.