I received some strong comments regarding my posting about relativism, so I feel the need to address that issue further--but from the opposite side. What I wrote on September 11 stands. But in addition to my rejecting relativism, I need to make it clear that I also reject absolutism.
In my book "Fed Up with Fundamentalism" (FUF) I spoke out rather strongly about absolutism--and those words stand, too. "Arrogance and Certainty" is a section in "The Problem with Fundamentalism," the fourth chapter in FUF. I wrote (and still believe): "If people are absolutely certain that they are correct in their most basic beliefs and that those who disagree with them are completely wrong, these people are usually seen as being arrogant as well as intolerant" (p. 89). Some who read what I wrote in "Why Reject Relativism?" may have concluded that I am arrogant and intolerant.
But I also said this in FUF: "Just as most, if not all, fundamentalists do, I affirm the concept of absolute truth, and I firmly believe that Jesus is 'the truth' and 'the way' to Absolute Truth, which is found in the triune God. But this must be recognized as a belief to be affirmed, elucidated, and witnessed to, not as a 'fact' that makes it possible for me to be 'judge and jury' for all opposing viewpoints" (p. 91).
In other words--and perhaps I should have said this more clearly in FUF--I reject absolutism as well as relativism. (In fact, I reject most "isms" and basically agree with whomever said that all isms are contrary to the Gospel.) I condemn all of the atrocities, such as against indigenous people, that have been done by those who were absolutists--although I think that those atrocities were committed primarily because of power, greed, and selfishness rather than because of some philosophical (or theological) position.
Still, absolutism can be used to justify aggression and oppression of others--and people with power have done so through the centuries. But I do not and will not condone violence, including any suppression or violation of religious freedom, and I resolutely reject any type of absolutism that fosters violence, oppresses people, or denies the religious freedom of individuals or groups.
But, as I wrote before, I reject relativism also—and that rejection is partly because of the logical contradiction of any declaration that relativism is true. I agree with Dr. Braaten, who wrote in an e-mail, "I like the statement, 'There are no absolutes, and that is absolutely true.'" On a deeper level, I reject relativism partly because of its link to religious pluralism, which tends to oppose and criticize Christian missionary work overseas--and I will no doubt write about that matter before long.