Shrill Relativistic Crusades

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Rootless relativism and the high moral indignation of a shrill crusade do not go well together.

If some things are absolutely wrong (every day of the week, in every century, in every culture), then surely it should be easy for those fundamentalists who are propounding such absolutism to answer some simple questions about it. Why are these things always wrong? Who says? Why should we pay any attention to your god?

Steve, Susanah, Jon, et al. — pop quiz.

1. In your system, why is slavery always wrong?

2. Who says that your system is the universal one, binding on all others who may not share your beliefs?

3. Do I have to serve the god of your system even if I do not believe in him/her/it?

It is difficult to suck and blow at the same time. You cannot have it both ways, and yet you are attempting to have it both ways — by distracting the attention of everyone away from these questions by means of sheer volume, indignation, pursing of the lips, media lies, and cute one liners. If you are yelling loud enough, you don’t have to think, and you never have to answer the questions. But the questions remain, for all that.

Take any slave-holding society — pick one, any one of them. Periclean Athens? Augustan Rome? The Aztecs? The ante-bellum South? Which one do you want? Now, tell me why they are bound to drop everything and do it your way? Because Kant says? Or J.S. Mill says? Or the Koran says? Or contemporary enlightened thought in Moscow, Idaho says? Which is it? Answer the question. A consistent relativist would defend the human sacrifices of the Aztecs. Can you defend that, but then draw the line at slavery? “Sure, cut his beating heart out of his chest, but you cannot make him wash the dishes.”

If Baal is god, serve him. If you are an ethical relativist, then open wide and swallow the consequences — all of them. But don’t strut about as though you were a relativist until you meet a conservative Christian, at which point you go after him with all the zeal of a 17th century Jesuit on steroids. Whence this zeal? By what standard? How did we get here?

As I said before in an earlier post, imagine there’s no heaven. Above us, only sky. You were a cropper in the Mississippi Delta 80 years ago. Above you, was there only sky? You were a mistreated slave in 1852, and your master got rich off your labor. Both you and he are dead now. Above the gas chambers of Germany. Only sky? Is there any judgment? Is there any justice? What is justice anyway? You can know what justice is, and then explain the basis of it to the rest of us. Or you can shrug and say you do not know what justice is. But you cannot, dear visionaries, do both. Or, more accurately, you cannot do both without a large number of people seeing what you are trying to do.

If relativism is the case, then anything goes, including the worst forms of absolutism. Those of you who have joined the chorus of absolutist voices in recent days, proclaiming that certain things are always and everywhere wrong, is this not backsliding away from your vaunted relativism? Are you remembering Sunday School lessons from your youth or something?

Always remember this: no matter what we say or do not say, whether we point it out or not, we know what you are doing. You are trying to shout down the gospel. Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died, and He rose again from the dead. He did so in order make a new heaven and new earth. In Christ all things have been made new. Why are you still steeped in bitterness, clutching to the old? The world has been born again. Why are you not born again? And for those of you who have been baptized, why are you being unfaithful to the triune name that was placed upon you (forever)? Whether for blessing or chastisement, the water of baptism never dries.

Always beware of contradictory tenets of ad hoc “anything but Christianity” worldviews. For example, there are two tenets of dogmatic atheism. 1. There is no God. 2. I hate Him. There are two tenets of militant feminism. 1. Men are jerks. 2. Women should be the same as men. In the same way there are two tenets operative in this imbroglio. 1. There are no absolutes, no such thing as absolute righteousness or wickedness. 2. Those who deny #1 are absolutely wicked.

There is nothing left to do but invite you, really, to come to Jesus. Anyone who is interested in deliverance from a slavery to sin can feel free to contact me off-list.


Douglas Wilson

Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.

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