Does Relativism Equal Polytheism?

“Whatever works for you is good.”

“I am happy that you are happy.”

“We just all need to figure out what is right for us.”

“Be true to yourself, wherever that leads you.”

“What is true for you may not be true for me.”

“All paths lead to God.”

“All religions are the same.”

“There is no absolute truth. Everything is relative.”

“No one can tell anyone else how to live.”

“You cannot legislate morality.”

“If people are happy, then how can they be wrong?”

We were in a class the other day and we started talking about relativism, which is basically the idea that there is no absolute truth that is true for all situations, but truth is constructed based on one’s perspective. So, one person’s “truth” is not another person’s “truth.” We all have different perspectives and experiences and what works for one person might not work for someone else. In recognizing that we all see things from different angles and that we are all different in how we understand and relate to the world, we are not making a false statement. That is true. But, the problem comes in when we locate truth in our own perspective, as though there is not “truth” outside of us in the nature of the thing that we are observing.

For example, it is right to say that we have different perspectives. If we are standing in a room and we are looking at a huge, cracked, rough, and jagged rock in the middle of the room, we would see that rock differently based on where we are standing. But, we are looking at the same rock. Our perspective does not change the rock. The rock is the same, we just see it from different angles. In this regard, sharing our perspective helps us to understand the rock better.

But, in the relativistic sense, our differing perspective fundamentally changes the rock. If the rock is truth, we are not trying to understand the rock by sharing information recognizing that we are all limited in our view. On the contrary, we are saying that we are the rock and that reality is altered by our perspective. The rock is no longer the same rock for everyone in the room – it is reframed and restructured based on the way that each person perceives it. So, the real source of truth is the individual interpreting the rock, or truth, for that matter.

So, that is where we are in our culture. There is no real Rock in the middle of the room – there is only a myriad of perception regarding the Rock. What we see and think and experience becomes our reality. Logic is gone and therefore, the means of discussion and possible cooperation are gone. We cannot come to consensus or agreement anymore because we have each established ourselves as authorities. We get to define and redefine truth based on what seems best to us. The Rock in the middle of the room is now a figment of our imagination and becomes essentially un-real. When there is no “truth” to agree or disagree on, then there is no society or culture, just a bunch of mini-gods and goddesses running around constructing their own realities and trying to amass power to get other gods/goddesses to agree with them. So, reality is reshaped and re-created through the accumulation of power by those who can convince the most or the most important people to agree with them about the Rock. Then, they force those who disagree with them about how they see the Rock to agree with them or suffer the consequences, because we cannot stand in the thin-air of our own propositions for long.

Our relativism, at this point, literally becomes polytheism as we have millions of gods/goddesses seeking to construct reality on their own. Instead of one Truth revealed by One God as He creates One People, we have many truths affirmed by many gods and we end up in never ending conflict and division as many different purveyors of “truth” jockey to convince the masses that their view is right.

We are not having truth wars or culture wars or political wars or arguments about morality or ethics or health care or debt ceilings. We are engaged in full-scale religious warfare between monotheism and polytheism as our old idolatries are reemerging and one source of truth is being pushed aside. The Enlightenment (1650-1800) during which our country was founded, embraced the myth that Mankind could come to one truth and live as one people unaided by revelation and guided by his Reason. Reason and rationality was everything and the idea was that we would be able to work together if we were educated and used our brains. That idea has completely broken down. We cannot come to “one truth” together on our own. It does not work.

The Bible says that there is just One Truth – His name is Jesus. He is the one way to live and the one life that God provides as well. The more that we embrace God and His work through Christ, the more unified we will become as a people. The more that we pursue ourselves and what is true for us in the moment and what we want, the more polytheistic we essentially become. We are headed in that direction fast.

I think it is important that we realize that we are engaged in spiritual struggle at this point and that nothing is neutral.



One Response to Does Relativism Equal Polytheism?

  1. Hi ALAN,
    here is a view from my own Church, and in ways it lines up with your post, and in ways it differs . . . can I get your perspective on it, if you have time and are inclined, but thanks anyway if you choose not to reply:
    ” “A Christian,” said Pope Francis, “must proclaim Jesus Christ in such a way that He be accepted: received, not refused – and Paul knows that he has to sow the Gospel message. He knows that the proclamation of Jesus Christ is not easy, but that it does not depend on him. He must do everything possible, but the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the proclamation of the truth, depends on the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel: ‘When He shall come, the Spirit of truth, shall guide you into all the truth.’ Paul does not say to the Athenians: ‘This is the encyclopedia of truth. Study this and you have the truth, the truth.’ No! The truth does not enter into an encyclopedia. The truth is an encounter – it is a meeting with Supreme Truth: Jesus, the great truth. No one owns the truth. We receive the truth when we meet [it].”