… In sum, then the essence of relativism is the conviction that statements-like “sexual relations between two males is wrong”-are not based on standards of assessment that are valid for everyone. There are no such standards. Concepts like true and false, right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, are useful for expressing personal preferences or agreed-upon community values, but they have no claim to be based on a universally valid standard…

Relativism is not a coherent philosophical system. It is riddled with contradictions – both logical and experiential. Sophomores in college know that something is fishy when someone claims the statement to be true that all truths are relative. And every businessman knows that philosophical relativists park their relativism at the door when they go into the bank and read the language of the contract they are about to sign. People don’t embrace relativism because it is philosophically satisfying. They embrace it because it is physically and emotionally gratifying. It provides the cover that they need to do what they want…

Eighty years ago, J. Gresham Machen described this relativistic corruption of language in relation to confessional affirmations:

It makes very little difference how much or how little of the creeds of the Church the Modernist preacher affirms. . . . He might affirm every jot and tittle of the Westminster Confession, for example, and yet be separated by a great gulf from the Reformed Faith. It is not that part is denied and the rest affirmed; but all is denied, because all is affirmed merely as useful or symbolic and not as true.

This utilitarian view of language is the direct fruit of relativism. It leads to evasive, vague speech that enables the relativist to mislead people into thinking he is still orthodox. Listen to Machen’s amazingly up-to-date description of the mindset that comes from relativism:

This temper of mind is hostile to precise definitions. Indeed nothing makes a man more unpopular in the controversies of the present day than an insistence upon definition of terms. . . . Men discourse very eloquently today upon such subjects as God, religion, Christianity, atonement, redemption, faith; but are greatly incensed when they are asked to tell in simple language what they mean by these terms.

But what about relativism? It poses as humble by saying: “We are not smart enough to know what the truth is-or if there is any universal truth.” It sounds humble. But look carefully at what is happening. It’s like a servant saying: I am not smart enough to know which person here is my master-or if I even have a master. The result is that I don’t have a master and I can be my own master. That is in reality what happens to relativists: In claiming to be too lowly to know the truth, they exalt themselves as supreme arbiter of what they can think and do. This is not humility. This is the essence of pride. The only way pride can be conquered in us is for us to believe in Truth and be conquered by it so that it rules us, and we don’t rule it…

It is contradictory because the very process of thinking about relativism commits you to truths that you do not treat as relative. Relativists employ the law of non-contradiction and the law of cause and effect whenever they talk about their belief in relativism and its relation to the world, and these laws are not relative. If they were, relativists could not even formulate the premises and conclusions that they say lead them to relativism. This is a deep duplicity. And when one does it knowingly, it is immoral. The king keeps saying he has clothes on, when he knows he is naked. People keep saying all is relative when they know their very thinking and talking involves principles they do not think are relative…

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