by Dr. Steve Kumar

Relativism is not a new belief. It is as ancient as the human race. It is not the wisdom of the mind but the error of the soul. Although relativism may appear to be sensible on the surface, it could only be maintained at the expense of reason. Relativism is an illusionary belief. Its view is internally incoherent and logically inconsistent. Alexander Solzhenitsvn was insightful when he said, “It is a terrible thing to be in a society where there is no law; it is equally terrible to live in a society where there are only lawyers.” Relativism is not only the enemy of truth but the enemy of the good.

The first flaw of relativism is that it begs the question. The relativist does not prove that relativism is true but merely assumes that it is true. This is arbitrary and invalid. One must demonstrate the soundness of one’s views before one invites others to embrace it. Relativism is presupposed to be true, presumed as a proven premise and used as an established truth in the process. What is the basis or the ground for relativism? To believe relativism is true one must accept the absolute laws of logic and rationality to qualify as a true belief but such laws are questioned under relativism, therefore relativism can never be regarded as true. Why should anyone accept relativism? As a theory relativism is not intellectually respectable or rational. It provides no logical criteria. In the light of relativism, no person (e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Judas) ever does anything wrong and therefore they could never be condemned. Consider the relativist’s dilemma: A mystical pantheist told a British officer in India, “My conscience tells me to burn a widow with the corpse of her husband.” The officer replied, “My conscience tells me to hang you if you do.” As evangelical philosopher Stuart C. Hackett notes, “If values are wholly relative to an individual valuer, there is no way of explaining how two persons can differ concerning an ethical question, or any other question, for that matter.” An unproved assumption is not worthy of belief. Seven hundred years before Christ the prophet Isaiah understood the error of relativism and pronounced judgment on those who regard evil as good and good as evil (Isaiah 5:20).

The second flaw of relativism is that it refutes itself. Truth by nature is non-contradictory. No theory is true if it falsifies itself. The analytical British philosopher Antony Flew rightly suggests, “To tolerate contradiction is to be indifferent to truth.” The trouble with relativism is that if it is true. it is false. Statements like, “There are no absolute truths!” “Everything is relative!” “Nothing is true!” are self refuting. These statements are grammatically sound but logically false. Take the statement, “A married bachelor drew a square circle on the blackboard that doesn’t exist.” They are deceptive statements. They break the very law they promote. The person who says, “Trust no one!” is in fact inviting you to trust him. Relativism is a false system because it promotes what it denies. Take the example of the existential professor who told his class, “There are no absolutes.” One of his students raised a thoughtful question, “Professor are you absolutely sure?” The professor was absolutely confused by the question.

Recently, a psychology student in Sydney who attended my lecture on relativism said, “Truth is subjective. We all perceive truth in our own way.” I asked her, “Is that really true?” She said, “Yes!” I informed her that if truth is truly perceivable then truth is not subjective. Furthermore if truth is totally subjective, how could she know what I know and how could she tell me what she knows? The fact that she disagrees passionately and is prepared to argue rationally indicates that the concept of relativism is not only meaningless but self-refuting. If a statement or position is self-contradictory then it is necessarily false. In the light of relativism it would be impossible to condemn cannibalism rape, racism, cruelty and other actions. The logician Richard Purtill from Western Washington State University correctly notes, “The relativistic view is incompatible with any moral objection.”

The third flaw of relativism is its own dogmatism. While relativists may argue that one must not be dogmatic or be an absolutist, yet relativists are equally dogmatic about relativism. They believe that relativism is absolutely true. Christian philosopher Gordon H. Clark rightly observes, “Objections to dogmatism are always dogmatic, and relativism is always asserted absolutely.” Relativists do not succeed in giving up absolutes–they merely redefine truth subjectively and arbitrarily. When the relativist says, “There are no rules” or “There are no absolutes,” what transpires is not the rejection of dogma but the affirmation of another. What we often fail to see is the unspoken assumption, “(It’s a rule) there are no rules,” or “There are no absolutes (except this one).” Nobody is right (except myself). In the battle for truth relativism is presumed to be the truth without justifying its dogmatic claim. No relativist can escape the charges of dogmatism.

Since relativism begs the question and fails to provide a logical ground for belief and since its assumptions are contradictory and incoherent. wisdom calls us to reject it. Relativism leaves us in the ocean of subjectivity and leads us to the death of truth.

THE REALITY OF TRUTH

Truth is the light of God which reveals the true meaning of reality. The apostle John affirmed this point when he wrote about the logos of God, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,” (John 1:9).

Truth is fundamental. Without an objective standard of truth no individual can make a sensible choice in our world of ideas. It is the key that opens the door to the meaning of life. It is the fabric which holds our existence together and dives direction and purpose. Without it our existence is an endless repetition of triviality. Our struggle for existence would be as meaningful as blind man in the dark room who was looking for a black cat that wasn’t there.

An event from New York illustrates the point. During one cold night a drunkard was seen walking around a lamppost. A man stopped and asked what he was doing. The drunkard replied, “I am looking for the key to my house.” The man joined in the search but they found nothing. “Are you sure you lost it here?” the man enquired. “No! I lost it a block away,” “Then why are you searching here?” demanded the man. “Because there is enough light here.”

If God exists he holds the key to truth. The brilliant Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is regarded by many scholars as the finest Twentieth Century mind. While working on his masterpiece, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he came to an amazing conclusion: “Man doesn’t have sufficient perspective from within the world to build an external structure of truth and value.” From a human perspective truth is an impossible ideal but from a divine standpoint it is a reality. Without an objective absolute revelation from God humanity simply drowns in a meaningless sea of subjection. In a time when our culture is uncertain about the truth. When people believe that nothing is knowable, that no one can be sure of anything, we have something unique to communicate. Jesus Christ is the best reflection of God’s. In Him there is no fear of deception. We must first know the truth if we are to bring any reformation to our Society. As Tom Snydder concludes, “we must accurately perceive truth so that we can proceed righteously in truth.” In the light of our predicament Jesus Christ offers the remarkable solution, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

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by Dr Steve Kumar

Many people approach religion the way they approach food: “I like it because it satisfies my need.” “If it feels good do it.” “Try it and you will like it.” Religion is not a matter of food or feeling. We must not see religion as being in the line of a cafeteria picking a principle in one religion and value system from another. For example: Taking a carrot from Islam, a tomato from Judaism, a potato from Buddhism, some garlic from Hinduism, and trying to cook up a religious soup.

In a world of many religions the idea of a multi-religious soup appears attractive, but before we whet our spiritual appetite, remember that there are no religious cooks who have such a recipe. Whatever is being cooked and served by religious syncretists falls short of our need. Religious questions are too valuable to reduce to the level of human taste.

Religion is not like food–it is not a matter of taste but a matter of truth. It is not a matter of feeling but of facts. It is not how it makes you feel but whether it is true. It may sound impressive to say, “I believe because I have a burning in the heart,” or because “I have a shiver in my liver.” Feelings do not validate a belief.

1. ALL RELIGIONS ARE DIFFERENT

No truth is as dangerous as half truth:

  • Humanism is atheistic.
  • Tribal religion is polytheistic.
  • Hinduism is pantheistic.
  • Buddhism is agnostic.
  • Islam is unitarian.
  • Judaism is monotheistic.
  • Christianity is trinitarian

He who says all religions are the same knows very little about religions. R.C. Sproul states, “That Jesus claimed to be God and Mohammed claimed to be a prophet is an essential difference. That Buddha was an atheist and Christ a theist is an essential difference. That Confucius died and Christ resurrected is an essential difference. That Jim Jones advocated suicide while Jesus preached patient endurance is a radical difference. That most religions teach salvation by good works while Christianity teaches salvation by grace is an essential difference. That Christianity features an atonement and a mediator who reconciles and redeems is an essential difference. That some men worship idols while others worship a transcendent God is an essential difference. The worship of Yahweh is a far cry from the worship of a cow.

Only the non-religious say all religions are the same. The World’s religions differ on:

  • Who is God;
  • What is the nature of the problem?
  • What is the nature of man?
  • What is sin?
  • What is salvation?
  • What is the ultimate destiny of life?
  • How do we solve the human problem?

For the Moslem, Mohammed is a prophet of God, for the Buddhist, Buddha is the path to Nirvana, and for the Hindu, Brahman is the invisible essence. But for the Christian Jesus Christ is not only the revelation of God but God himself.

2. ALL RELIGIONS CONTRADICT ONE ANOTHER

As we study world’s religions we discover that they are not only different but that they are contradictory. World religions give a confusing view of life and reality. A leading historian, after studying the World’s religions to determine what they have in common came to the following conclusion: belief in God–if there is a God, and life is worth living–sometimes.

The question is that if all religions are from God why do they all disagree? Why is there so much confusion? I agree with G. Bailey, “If all religions lead to God, how is it most of them, having been given a thousand years at least, haven’t yet arrived?” To say all religions are the same is: Not logical, not factual, and not honest.

What is the evidence that all religions are one? How do we know all religions are one? What is the basis for this belief? I spoke to a lady who said she believed in all religions. So I asked her, “Do you believe the Christian message that Jesus is God?” She said, “no.” She actually rejects Christianity but gives the impression that she is broad-minded. There is nothing like comparative religion to make a person comparatively religious! To reconcile the basic teachings of Jesus with those of Buddha would require the skill of a magician.

3. ONLY ONE RELIGION CAN BE TRUE

How can all religions be one when they contradict each other? Religious relativism which accepts all religions as equally true commits intellectual suicide. Where all views are right the word “right” loses all possible meaning. “Right” has meaning only in the context of wrong (true and false, positive versus negative, yes and no). When everything is right nothing can be wrong. When nothing can be wrong, nothing is right.

Ultimately religious relativism leads to the death of all religions. When a religion cannot be tested or falsified nothing true can be affirmed about that religion. Hence statements like, “All religions are true” are empty phrases which have no logical or empirical basis. One cannot hold to this view and be a serious thinker.

In a country of many religions we must respect the rights and the freedom of others to hold their view. Tolerance is a virtue which we must prize highly, but we must not, in the name of tolerance, compromise the truth by regarding all views as equally true. A world where two opposing or contradictory views are right is cosmic madness. Honesty and respect must dominate our search for truth but unity must never be achieved at the expense of truth. Truth would often require that we agree to disagree but one should always do so in love.

If all religions contradict one another there can be only two logical choices: either all of them are false, or only one of them can be true. The French philosopher Pascal was right: “I see a number of religions in conflict, and therefore all false, except one.”

WHY CHRISTIANITY?

Christianity is different from all other religions. There is no faith like the Christian faith. Billy Graham says it rightly, “There are many religions in the world, but only one Christianity, for only Christianity has a God who gave Himself for mankind. World religions attempt to reach up to God; Christianity Is God reaching down to man.” In world religions we have man’s answer to man’s problems but in Christianity we have God’s answer to man’s problems. Christianity is the story of the God who searches for man.

C.S. Lewis, the former atheist, expresses my conviction, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” Religion is man’s search for God; man’s effort to find God, Christianity is God’s solution to man’s dilemma. In religion man asks the questions but in Christianity man finds the answers.

Christianity says man is sick. Man has a problem–look around–look at the hatred, prejudice, murder, injustice, cruelty, greed, selfishness, envy. What will change human nature? Not education and not moral teaching but only the power of God. There is only one cure for the world’s sickness and that is the Gospel which is really God’s medicine for a sick world.

1. REMARKABLY UNIQUE?

What is so remarkable about the Christian faith? Why believe the Christian faith? What Is so special about it? Hinduism has the techniques of Yoga, Buddhism has the Eight-fold Path, Islam has the Five Pillars, Judaism has the Torah but Christianity offers a resurrected Saviour.

Christianity is remarkably different from all other religions. Take Buddha out of Buddhism and we will still have Buddhism; take Krishna out of Hinduism and we will still have Hinduism; take Mohammed out of Islam and we will still have Islam; take Confucius out of Confucianism and we will still have Confucianism, but take Christ out of Christianity and we will eliminate Christianity.

Christianity is not a system of ideas or speculations of a certain philosophy or a principle of ethics, but Christianity is a focus on a Person. The good news is that God has personally come to visit us in the unique historical space-time event of Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1 & 14 NIV)

I will never forget the occasion when I was asked to speak at the University of Calgary with James Erwin, the American astronaut who walked on the moon. The most moving statement he shared on that occasion was that, “The greatest event in history was not when man walked on the moon but when God walked on this earth.” That is the greatest event!

Christianity is not essentially a religion about God but a relationship with God. What we need is not just religion but reality. In all other religions the leaders pointed a way to God but Jesus pointed to Himself as God.

2. RELIABLY TRUE?

There is much evidence for the Christian faith. But the greatest evidence is the resurrection of Christ. There are three major facts which prove the resurrection:

A. The Empty Tomb

(i) The Jews never denied it.

(ii) The Roman guards saw it.

(iii) Six of Jesus disciples saw it.

(iv) Peter proclaimed it to 3000 people who could have refuted it.

According to D.H.Van Daalen, “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds. Those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions.” There are many reputable scholars who accept that the tomb was empty.

B. The Appearances of Christ

The facts demonstrate that on several occasions different individuals and groups saw Jesus alive after His death. He was seen not only by believers but also by sceptics, unbelievers and even His enemies. On one occasion He was seen by more than 500 people.

C. The Origin of the Christian Faith

The origin of the church proves the resurrection. What gave birth to the church? How did the church come about? Why did the church come into being? All the scholars agree that Christianity came into being because the disciples believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

Professor Moule of Cambridge University says, “The origin of Christianity must remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the resurrection.” If the resurrection is true then we don’t have to speculate on the meaning of life. We have something concrete on which to base our trust and hope.

3. RELEVANT FOR ME?

Is the Christian faith relevant to me? How relevant is it in the context of my 21st Century lifestyle and existence? How does Christ handle the great questions of life here and now?

If Christianity is true then it must be relevant. Christ answers the question of history; He offers a solution to the problem of sin; He removes the burden of guilt; He releases us from the fear of death; He changes despair into hope and He provides power to live a victorious life with God.

Confucius saw the evil of life and said, “Duty!” Buddha saw the misery of man and said, “Meditate!” Mohammed saw the cruelty of life and said, “Fatalism!” Krishna saw the suffering of life and said, “Karma!” Jesus saw the agony of life and said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Christianity is not a set of views, not a system of ideas but a change of heart. It is a vital and dynamic relationship with a living Christ. As disciples of Christ we can affirm that without Christ we cannot live and with Him we cannot die.

By Dr. Steve Kumar

In a time of intellectual, moral and spiritual crisis the West is being influenced by a new movement which promises peace, prosperity and a New Age of Enlightenment. The message of the movement is radical and its solution is unconventional, but many are joining the bandwagon thinking it is the panacea to the human predicament. This new mind-shift is transforming Western values, culture and life-style. Foreign ideas and bizarre beliefs are moulding the minds of many people who are desperately seeking for answers.

This new view of reality, popularly termed “The New Age Thinking” is quickly dominating education, science, medicine. business, psychology. politics, religion. cinema, media and even the military. It is estimated that up to 60 million in America and 20 million in Europe believe in some form of New Age Movement. The growing influence of New Age thinking is evident in the great success of actress Shirley MacLaine’s books, Out On a Limb, and Dancing in the Light. Her autobiographical occult odyssey was aired by A.B.C. TV as a “Mini-series.” Millions were exposed to her spirituality and occultic practices. Observing the trend, Brooks Alexander of the Berkeley based Spiritual Counterfeits Projects comments, “The twilight is ending. Night is descending. And angels of light come dancing in the dark.”1

What really is the New Age Movement? Why are Westerners dabbling in it? What are its basic views of life and reality? Is the New Age Movement really new or an ancient religion cleverly dressed up in a modern suit? Are the New Age beliefs adequate? Do they make sense in the light of what thinkers through the centuries have upheld, namely rationality and commonsense?

The human heart cannot remain in a state of emptiness. People are made for something deeper than the physical. Disappointed by materialism and disillusioned by formal liberal Christianity, many are desperately searching for something more personal, intimate and fulfilling. To these empty hearts and uncertain minds the New Age prophets are promising peace, power and prosperity.

UNDERSTANDING THE NEW AGE

The New Age Movement is unlike any other movement the West has ever had. It has no single leader, no definite doctrine and it has no headquarters. The term “New Age Movement” covers a loosely-structured network of organisations and people who are united by common convictions and values. It is also known as New World Consciousness, New Orientalism, Cosmic Consciousness, Cosmic Humanism, The Aquarian Conspiracy, Mystical Humanism, Human Potential Movement and Holistic Health Movement. Although the label may differ, yet the basic convictions are the same. Westmont Sociologist, Dr. Ronald Enroth, suggests that the Movement is a very loose network of organizations, individuals, and philosophies that share a common world view, a common vision of humanity, and a common basis for hope and change.2 It is a new perception of reality, a move away from traditional western rational realism to the mystical oriental idealism.

Dr. F. LaGard Smith, Professor of Law at Pepperdine University and author of many books including Out on a Broken Limb, notes, “To understand the New Age Movement, you have to understand that we are talking about a world-view with completely new definitions of who man is, who God is, where we come from, and where we’re going. Understanding the New Age Movement requires a major thought shift whereby we’re looking at everything from a new perspective. The New Age Movement is a custom-made religion for each person. It doesn’t follow any of the traditional notions of churches, but it draws from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Secularism and Selfism. Each person then mixes all that stuff together and arrives at a custom-made religion for him or herself.3

Russell Chandler, the best selling author of Understanding the New Age, points out, “People buy in at various levels. There are a of people who are New Age and don’t know it. There are a lot of people who borrow the world view and assumptions of the New Age. They wouldn’t label it New Age but that’s what it is.”4 The New Age specialist Douglas Groothuis rightly observes, “The New Age Movement is not simply another new cult; it has no one leader or unified organizational structure. It’s more of a creeping Influence that advocates a change in people’s thinking by returning to an ancient but appealing message.”5

Essentially the New Age Movement is a strange combination of Mysticism and Humanism. Borrowing a few ideas from Christianity, a technique from Hinduism and a dose of Buddhist Witchcraft, you can create your own personal religion. The New Age offers you a large cafeteria of religious goodies to choose from. As one writer puts it, “There’s something for everyone. Feel good about making lots of money. Feel good about having none at all, but most of all, feel good. Do it right and you can do anything you want. And there are a lot of people out there who want to show you how–for a price of course.”6 You can choose anything from astrology, biofeedback, clairvoyance. crystals, channelling, E.S.P., meditation, hypnosis, rebirthing, self-healing, visualization, witchcraft, yoga and others. According to Chandler, “It is a religion which appeals to those who want to be rich without working, smart without studying, and holy without giving up any vices.”7

Surprisingly the approach of the New Age appeals to many people living in the post-Christian West. A new convert to the Movement declares, “I once was a failure, struggling with bitterness and hurt, but now I am free. I can create my reality; I can do whatever I want; I have found the resources within to climb the mountain. No longer do I fear death, for I have discovered that it does not exist.”8 This type of testimony is frequently proclaimed by the New Agers. A New Zealand singer states, “It’s fantastic. Life in the New Age is really exciting, a wonderful thing to be involved in.”9

THE MESSAGE OF THE NEW AGE

At the heart of the New Age thinking is the belief that mankind is entering into a new millennium which will bring not global disaster but a new Spiritual awareness. As N.Z. Listener puts it, “Humankind has passed through the agricultural age, the industrial age and the communications age. Now we’re entering the consciousness-raising age.”10

The West has been dominated by science, rationality and technology, these they insist need to be brought together by spiritual and psychological progress. In order to achieve our highest potential we must move from our traditional dependence on the left brain, which they regard as our logical faculty and the “masculine” nature, and shift to the right brain, our “feminine”‘ nature which is the intuitive. By focusing deeply on our inner essences we will recover the ancient wisdom of our true self.

THE WISDOM OF THE NEW AGE

The fundamental assumption of the New Age is that all reality is fundamentally one. This assumption, technically called Monism, has its roots in Eastern and Greek philosophy. Ramakrishna used to say, “Reality is One, sages call it by various names.” Plotinus, the Greek mystic, proposed that the purpose of life is to be “One with the one, alone with the all.” All diversities are illusory and only exist in the finite realm. The mistake of the West is the rational division and separation which we maintain in our analysis. This division they believe is the root cause of our environmental exploitation, nuclear escalation and the reason for out alienation between humanity and creation. The wisdom that will lead us to paradise is that all is one. “You are God. Honest,” says Jack Underhill. “I know your driver’s license says differently, but what does the D.M.V. know?”11 Edgar D. Mitchell, a leading light of the Movement, states, “God sleeps in the minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals, and thinks in man.”12 This novel idea appears profound on the surface to many Westerners, but some hard thinking on the subject will disclose many of its shortcomings.

First, the Monistic teaching has a destructive effect in the East. Can the West expect anything better? Second, by assuming that all is one, are we not arrogantly elevating ourselves to the level of the Creator? It’s a hopeless assumption to maintain that man is the master of the world when in reality he can’t even create a blade of grass. If man is equal to God, what type of God is he? Man hates, kills, rapes, envies and destroys. Also, a God who needs reminding of his divinity and wisdom has neither of these. Third, there is no rational basis for Monism. The reality of human life demonstrates conclusively the obvious diversity of existence. Both man’s conscious experience and rational thinking provide sufficient evidence to reject the Monistic viewpoint.

COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS

One of the most striking features of the New Age Movement is its way of getting in touch with reality. The emphasis is not only that reality is one but that people achieve cosmic consciousness by means of meditation, visualisation, yoga, drugs, chanting, hypnosis, martial arts, sensory deprivation and others. The New Ager believes that it is through cosmic consciousness that we attain cosmic oneness. On the conscious level, man is separated from God, but in his essential essence he is one with God. His conscious sense deceives his real self as a separate being, but he must transform his conscious thinking by spiritual technology. Shirley MacLaine in her book, Dancing in the Light, says, “You are unlimited. You just don’t realise it.”13

New Age advocate Fritjof Capra describes his cosmic experience which altered his life view: “I saw the atoms of the elements and !hose of my body participating in the cosmic dance of energy; I felt its rhythm and I heard its sound, and at that moment I knew that this vas the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshipped by the Hindus.”14

The experience of cosmic consciousness is expressed by various terms including self-realisation, enlightenment, God-realisation, atonement, satori and Nirvana. This mystical experience produces the feeling of cosmic oneness where all distinctions of good/evil, male/female, reality/fantasy, light/dark and man/God disappears.

NEW AGE THINKING IS NOTHING NEW

These ideas only appear new to those who do not know their origin. The thinking of the New Age was first expressed by the serpent to our first parents in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). It is the lie of the serpent that man’s destiny and his salvation is within himself. Modern man finds the old lie gratifying. When a man does not stand for the truth he will fall for any lie. Modern man is no exception to the rule; he finds the message of the serpent appears to offer hope and power. It exalts man to the place of God, gives him a false sense of security and makes him believe the key is in his hands. This is a delusion.

The tragic experience of the New Age is graphically illustrated in the life of a young woman, Cindy Williams, who moved into the New Age to find hope after experiencing the trauma of divorce. Even though admitting that she was “cautious” during the first encounter she says her life has changed, the problems have vanished, and now she is seeking to get in touch with her true self. She is looking forward with great expectation to the promise of the New Age and says, “I’ve got my feet firmly planted on this illusion.”15

To think man is the master of his destiny is not only arrogant but madness. The facts of human experience and history provide more than sufficient evidence to dispel any possible notion of the divinity of man.

How many wars have we fought, how many crimes have we done, how many injustices have we committed? How could the New Age man not see the truth? Is it any wonder that the Scripture says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie,” (2 Thes. 2:10,11).

End Notes

1. “Brooks Alexander: New Age Movement” by Ronald Enroth. Fundamentalist Journal, Feb. 1968, p. 49.
2. Ronald Enroth, ibid.
3. F. LaGard Smith, The Door, p. 18.
4. Russell Chandler, The Door, p. 7.
5. Douglas Grouthuis, The New Age Wave, Moody Monthly, 1985.
6. N.Z. Listener, September 23, 1989.
7. Russell Chandler, ibid., p.7.
8. Erwin Lutzer & John DeVries, Satan’s “Evangelistic” Strategy for this New Age, 1988.
9. N.Z. Listener, ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Jack Underhill, “New Age Quiz,” Life Times Magazine, 6.
12. Edgar Mitchell, Bridging Science and Metaphysics in the 20th Century, 1983.
13. Shirley MacLaine, Dancing in the Light, 1985, p.133.
14. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 1975, p.11.
15. Erwin Lutzer & John DeVries, ibid, p.49.

by Dr Steve Kumar

In 1984 our world was horrified by the tragic news of the Avianca Airlines jet that crashed in Spain. But even more disturbing was the discovery of the reason for the accident. Investigators discovered that the “black box” cockpit recorders revealed the shocking truth. Just a few minutes before the tragedy, the computer-synthesized voice from the automatic warning system announced, several times, “Pull up! Pull up!” The pilot however dismissed the warning as malfunctioning, and said, “Shut up, Gringo!” and turned off the system. Moments later the plane crashed into the side of the mountain killing all on board. When truth is ignored our lives are at risk.

The search for truth has always been in the forefront of the thinking mind. The French philosopher Michael Montaigne once observed, “Man is born to inquire after truth.” The ancient philosopher Plato expressed it eloquently when he said, “Just as our heart is designed for love, our mind is designed for truth.” His student Aristotle, said, “A friend is Plato but a greater friend is truth.” Truth is vital to existence. Truth matters to the human race! But is there such a thing as absolute truth? Can we really know the truth?

Sometime ago a group of students were invited to the White House. A spokesperson, in a carefully prepared speech, advised them to be good and moral, not to rob, get involved in drugs or bomb buildings. After the speaker had finished his speech, a student from Harvard asked, “Sir! Can you please tell us on what do you base your morality?” The official was puzzled and replied, “I’m sorry. I don’t know.”

The twentieth century provides many attractive ideas to the curious minds but the most subtle of all is the idea that there is no absolute truth. Allan Bloom, the philosopher from University of Chicago, reports in the opening pages of The Closing of the American Mind that “there is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of, almost every student entering the University believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” “We are caught up in a revolution,” observes Dennis McCall which is ushering in “a cultural metamorphosis-transforming every area of everyday life as it spreads through educational movies, television, and other media.” A case in point is the Howard University professor Jane Flax, a radical feminist, who opposes conventional beliefs about truth, logic, knowledge, personality and language. Following other post-modernists she is crusading to replace it with radical feminism, multiculturalism and relativism. This new wave of thinking is radically transforming our large universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Northwestern and others.

REVOLUTION AGAINST THE TRUTH

During a recent Harvard graduation address one student said, “I believe that there is one idea, one sentiment, which we have all acquired at some point in our Harvard careers–and that, ladies and gentlemen, is, in a word, confusion. They tell us it is heresy to suggest the superiority of some value, fantasy to believe in moral argument, slavery to submit to judgement sounder than your own. The freedom of our day is the freedom to devote ourselves to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true.”

Historian Arnold Toynbee points out in the study of history we are the first of twenty-one civilisations to attempt “civility” without a moral reference point. Our post-modern age finds the idea of relativism very attractive. A number of recent movies The Mission, At Play in the Field of the Lord, The Black Robe, Do the Right Thing, and Dances with Wolves, portray Christian mission or western culture as guilty of cultural imperialism. The lyrics of musical groups like Offspring, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Bash, Nirvana, Hole, Live, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and many others express postmodernist cynicism.

One day a rabbi, a priest, and a liberal minister were discussing the nature of truth. The rabbi said, “I speak according to the Law of Moses.” The priest declared, “I speak according to the tradition of the church.” The liberal minister said, “It seems to me. . . .” Here we have classic relativism. According to relativism, moral judgements are individual opinions with no validity for anyone but oneself. The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy defines relativism as “the view that what is right or wrong and good or bad is not absolute but variable and relative, depending on the person, circumstances or social institutions.” In the words of Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” What is true or right for one person may not be necessarily true or right for another person. Relativists insist truth is not based on a fixed absolute external reality but is decided by a group or individual for themselves.

Oscar winning actress Shirley MacLaine declares, “Everyone has his own truth, and truth as an objective reality simply does not exist.” Popular New Age guru Joseph Campbell teaches, “The person who thinks he has found the ultimate truth is wrong.” It is no exaggeration that many describe our century as the age of the Death of Truth. The spirit of relativism is the major force behind the rejection of absolute morality. It is the backbone of radical feminism, the liberalisation of homosexuality, euthanasia, the rejection of Christian particularism and the promotion of deconstructionism. The crisis of the West is the crisis of Truth. The tragic reality of our time is not the lack of knowledge but the rejection of Truth. Truth today is relegated to technology, beauty is confined to the beholder and goodness is ridiculed night after night as millions are idiotized before a box. We have become expendable entities in a disposable world. As we sink deeper into the abyss of nihilism there is still time for us to reflect and return to God’s transcendent Truth. While postmodernist prophets like Richard Rorty and Stanley Fish and others argue that “the truth is there is no truth,” what should the disciples of Christ say to our post-modernist prophets of despair?

For the modern mind the final truth is there is no final truth. Jean-Paul Sartre, the existential atheist, promoted this idea in the Sixties: “There was nothing left in heaven, no right or wrong, nor anyone to give me orders. . . . I am doomed to have no other law but mine. . . . For I . . . am a man, and every man must find his own way.” Michael Novok, in his Templeton address, observed that the most dangerous idea which dominates the West today is relativism. Theologian Carl F. H. Henry describes our generation as “Intellectually uncapped, morally unzippered and volitionally uncurbed,” and in an important work, The Death of Truth, the author captures graphically the modern betrayal of truth.

Theologian David Wells, in his significant book, No Place for Truth, illustrates the widespread influence of relativism in Western churches. The Barnes Report confirms that nearly four out of five Americans are relativists, of the 88 percent who claimed to be evangelical, 53 percent believed that there is no such thing as absolute truth. “Relativism,” observes Professor Arthur Holmes, “has intruded into religion too, so that the Bible’s teaching is too often viewed as culturally relative and in need of change.” According to sociologist Peter Berger the intellectual struggle of the West is. “One long effort to cope with the vertigo of relativity induced by modernization.” Philosophers Jack Meilland and Michael Krausz insist that “Relativism is one of the chief intellectual and social issues of our time.” The idea of relativism is not only gaining popularity within the intellectual community but it is increasingly becoming as Harold A. Netland rightly notes, “the creed of those outside academia as well.”