Living as a Christian 2

Living as a Christian in a Post-Christian World
Tapping on Theology #2
1. Reminder of Pope Benedict’s challenge
2. Goal for next two weeks
3. Various comments about relativism:
a. “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not
recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s
own ego and one’s own desires.” Homily, 4/18/05 Ratzinger
b. “Relativism’s favorite Scripture is ‘judge not’. The only judgment is
judgment against judging. The only wrong thing is the idea that there is a
real wrong.” Peter Kreeft
c. “From the mere fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all
ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody
has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to
enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” Mussolini,
Diuturna, p. 377
d. “Men and women of good conscience can disagree, and we suppose some
always shall disagree, about the profound moral and spiritual implications
of terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stages. Some of us as
individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principle of morality,
but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty
of all, not to mandate our own moral code…At the heart of liberty is the
right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the
universe, and of the mystery of human life…A decision to overrule Roe’s
essential holding under the existing circumstances would address error, if
error there was, at the cost of both profound and unnecessary damage to
the Court’s legitimacy, and to the Nation’s commitment to the rule of
law…We are satisfied that the immediate decision is not the soundness of
Roe’s resolution of the issue, but the precedential force that must be
accorded to its holding. And we have concluded that the essential holding
of Roe should be reaffirmed.” U.S. Supreme Court Planned Parenthood of
Southeastern Pa v. Case (1992)
e. “Relativism predominates. Whoever is not a relativist is someone who is
intolerant. To think that someone can understand the essential truth is
already seen as something intolerant. However, in reality this exclusion of
truth is a type of very grave intolerance…” Ratzinger, interview 12/01/02
f. “Relativism…in certain respects has become the real religion of modern
man” Ratzinger Truth and Tolerance, 8. 84
g. “Truth is replaced by the decision of the majority precisely because there
can be no truth…This relativism, which is nowadays to be found…is the
most profound difficulty of our age.” Ibid., 72
h. “The belief that there is a truth , valid and binding within history itself, in
the figure of Jesus Christ and in the faith of the Church is referred to as
fundamentalism.” Ibid., 120.
i. “In recent years I find myself noting how the more relativism becomes the
generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends towards intolerance,
thereby becoming a new dogmatism. Political correctness, whose constant
pressures you have illuminated, seeks to establish the domain of a single
way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has
reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the
past. It prescribes itself as the only way to think and speak – if, that is, one
wishes to stay in fashion. Being faithful to traditional values and to the
knowledge that upholds them is labeled intolerance, and relativism
becomes the required norm. I think it is vital that we oppose this
imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of
thought as well as freedom of religion. In Sweden, a preacher who had
presented the Biblical teachings on the question of homosexuality received
a prison sentence. This is just one sign of the gains that have been made by
relativism as a new “denomination” that places restrictions on religious
convictions and seeks to subordinate all religions to the super-dogma of
relativism.” Ratzinger, Without Roots, 128
4. Some common slogans, buzzwords, and ideas:
5. Some definitions.
a. Relativism:
b. Four different types of relativism:
6. Why is this relevant? Who cares?
7. More clarity (I hope!)
a. Absolutes, then, have three aspects:
8. Proposing not imposing.
a. The “world’s” view
b. Our Responses:
1. “the divine command theory”.
c. As Robert George writes, “If reason has no sway in practical affairs, the
sole question is who has the power?”
9. Quick summary
b. Dialogue!
1. But what is dialogue?
a. General view
b. Literal meaning
i. As defined by Marcello Pera.
ii. This presumes
c. Irony:
10. What does this mean for us?
11. A word, or two, on “tolerance”
12. A final thought going back to Benedict’s challenge. Why the fear?