That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4, ESV)
The moment someone says, “The Lord said to me…” or “The Lord moved me to…” do this or that, a great skepticism descends upon my spirit. For that reason, the fact that I feel that God told me to post something on this blog tonight suggests to me that I’m probably deeply wrong in some way. But let’s run with it and see how it goes.
Last night’s post was OK as far as it went, but I felt that I hadn’t been clear enough on the reasons for my Second Refusal – the refusal to adopt a relativistic world view. And I’m reading a very long book right now, so I won’t have a review to do for a few days. So I thought I’d say more about relativism, and why it’s so deadly.
And then I opened my Bible for devotions this morning, and there was the passage I’ve transcribed above. And I thought, “This is exactly what I want to write about.”
And then I got an email from a friend who teaches at a state university, discussing “constructionism,” the relativistic literary-critical theory that reigns supreme at most institutions of higher learning today. And I thought, “This is exactly what I want to write about.”
So I thought maybe I ought to write about it. Could be mistaken.
The problem with relativism (by which I mean the dogmatic belief that everything is relative. Some things really are relative, of course), as I see it, is that it’s essentially solipsistic. The postmodern relativist is not sure that anything exists, except himself (and he’s not entirely sure of that).
That leaves him alone in the universe. When he speaks to another person, he’s not sure that that person is actually there. He could be imagining them. Or they may exist, but be very different from what he perceives them to be. If he loves someone – spouse, friend, or family member – he’s not sure a) whether they’re really there, or b) whether what they feel for him is the same thing he is feeling.
For the relativist, nothing is manifest. Look at the passage above from 1 John 1. John writes of things being manifest – the life (of Christ) “was made manifest, and we have seen it….” It “was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” “Manifest” means visible and out in the open. Something you can look at and be sure of. “Show me the money.” “I’m from Missouri; show me.” It’s a great old word that the relativists and constructionists have banished as meaningless.
John speaks of this manifest life as being “with the Father.” “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us…” and “with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” John is saying that we have entirely adequate proof for our faith, because the life was made manifest to us. John has proof enough in his experience to convince him.
No proof is enough to convince the relativist.
So the relativist is existentially lonely, a fetus floating in space like the one in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There is no joy in being alone. For joy, we need relationships. We need love. People speak glibly about the importance of love, but the relativist can never be sure that love even exists (that’s one of his dirty little secrets. That’s why you hear so much about power from the left. They’re not sure about love, but they’re pretty sure power exists, and works).
John says that the fellowship that this manifest life produces is fellowship with God Himself (the Father). We forget too often what the great saints have always known – that God is a being of joy. Yes, He is love (love is joyful, after all), and He’s just, and He’s many things. But we forget that He’s joyful. It occurred to me recently that I often think of Christ’s sufferings, but too often I forget that He is at the Father’s right hand at this moment – in a loving relationship. His existence is full of joy. He loves His life (the life made manifest to us) and He rejoices in it. He longs to share it. John says we can share in that joy (“that our joy may be complete”).
But the relativist is cut off from all that. He’s like the painfully shy kid at the party (that would be me) who lingers on the periphery, refusing to join in the games and dancing, because he’s afraid of looking foolish. He starves at the feast; he dies of thirst on the river bank.
That is relativism. It stands in opposition to faith. It is a gospel of death, and a denial of the Christian faith.