In my previous posting I said some negative things about relativism, and now I am writing more about why I think relativism is objectionable and should be rejected.
First, a definition of the term: Relativism is the idea that there is no absolute truth and that, consequently, all truth is relative to the culture or the religion to which a person or group belongs. I take this as more of metaphysical statement than an epistemological one; that is, it refers primarily to the nature of reality not to the way one knows what is real. That distinction is important, because I do not think that one can be absolutely sure he or she knows the absolute truth--and I will be addressing that problem in a latter posting.
There certainly is relativity apparent in the way reality is understood. The way any of us view the world is largely dependent upon the culture or the religion to which we belong, that is, upon the community, large or small, which has formed the "plausibility structure" which informs our judgments.
But while affirming epistemological relativity, I reject the idea of pluralism that renounces the making of value judgments among different cultural or religious views because since all are relative all are (potentially) of equal validity. According to metaphysical relativism, there is no absolute Truth that people or groups just understand to varying degrees or in diverse ways.
Relativism is a growing phenomenon in the contemporary world. It is a central tenet of the postmodern worldview. But is it compatible with Christianity--at least Christianity as it has been generally understood and believed for the last two thousand years? I think not.
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," it has been said (by Terullian, who died around 220 A.D.). But if through the centuries Christians had embraced relativism, there would have been no (or at least very few) martyrs. People don't willingly die for relative truths. If they had been relativists, Stephen, Peter (if the legend about his crucifixion is basically true), Polycarp, and a multitude of other Christians through the centuries would not have become martyrs--and Christianity would likely not have survived. If Luther and the other Reformers of the sixteenth century had been relativists, there would have been no Protestant Reformation.
Of course, some might say that Christians were martyred because of the absolutism of those who killed them--and that is, no doubt, partially true. But the absolutism of the Roman Empire--or the Roman Catholic Church--was opposed by those who believed that they had apprehended the Truth and who were willing to die, if necessary, for the sake of that Truth. That’s something no thoroughgoing relativist would likely do.