Relativism and Natural Law

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

Is an axiom of today’s culture. It plays as a subliminal call for civility, tolerance and understanding. It is also the hallmark of a confused and decaying society, for civility, tolerance and understanding are meaningless in a worldview that forswears objective truth and embraces relativism.

Relativism is the idea that moral truth has no objective or absolute value. Relativism reduces moral truth to a subjective opinion that is variable and contingent on experiences and perspectives. This equivocation makes relativism an existential threat to any civilization that embraces its abnegation of objective truth because it undermines its moral foundation. The absence of objective moral truth subjugates morality to a consensus of opinion at best and at worst to the rule of the mob. In such framework rights are not indelible or universal. They are subjugated to the disposition of a society and subject to change. Thus, under relativism there is no ethical or moral framework upon which to condemn the slave trade or a legal justification to adjudicate crimes against humanity. For relativism disparage the notion that as rational beings, we can discern what is right, proper and just and condemn what is wrong, improper and unjust.

As Professor Peter Kreeft aptly puts it:

“But in fact it is only the believer in the old-fashioned natural moral law who could be a social radical and a progressive. He alone can say to a Hitler, or a Saddam Hussein, “You and your whole social order are wrong and wicked and deserve to be destroyed.” The relativist could only say, “Different strokes for different folks, and I happen to hate your strokes and prefer mine, that’s all.”

Peter Kreeft
A Refutation of Moral Relativism—Transcription

It was precisely the “old-fashioned natural moral law” that afforded the Dominican Friar Bartolomé de las Casas an intellectual framework upon which to argue against the slave trade of the 16-century and for the universality of human rights. He argued that every human being has an intrinsic and objective dignity and thereby should be universally respected. His arguments were not only based on his Christian faith but also on Natural Law. A fundamental principle in classical philosophy that states that there are objective and universal ethical principles that are inherent in all human beings and that these principles can be known through reason.

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Moreover, the intellectual and judicial arguments against Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg Trials were firmly grounded on Natural Law:

“When I say that we do not ask for convictions unless we prove crime, I do not mean mere technical or incidental transgression of international conventions. We charge guilt on planned and intended conduct that involves moral as well as legal wrong…It is not because they yielded to the normal frailties of human beings that we accuse them. It is their abnormal and inhuman conduct which brings them to this bar.”

Robert H. Jackson
Opening Statement Nuremberg Trials, 1945

Relativism begs the question whether the outcome of the Nuremberg trial was justifiable if the moral values of the tribunal were conditioned by the experiences and perspective of the Nazis. For under a relativistic intellectual regime, the slave trade and crimes against humanity are just a matter of opinion. The only logical conclusion under relativism is that such atrocities are only atrocity because we view them as atrocities. Not because they are intrinsically evil. They are just a value opinion. This is a devastating thought.

Yet the appeal of relativism is inescapable to a self-centered culture. That is obsessed with denying the nature of sin or wrongdoing. It is no wonder that Relativism is today’s most profitable currency in the economy of progressivism. It gives an effective, albeit intellectually unsustainable, framework upon which to justify anything. Its effectiveness in today’s culture is self-evident in its successful devaluation of human life to a commodity through its rationalization of abortion and euthanasia. The former led to an ongoing holocaust of countless generations of human beings whose life are ended by abortion and the latter provided the means to justify the cleansing of those that society considered to be undesirable, i.e. a burden. Its inhumanity is hidden behind the doors of abortion clinics and exposed behind the gates of Auschwitz.

To be continue…

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5 thoughts on “Relativism and Natural Law”

  1. Yes I agree Caleb but even more dangerous is that man is explaining away God’s Truth by watering it down to fit in with their own agenda and this is with some in the Church too.

    So first I would like to ask you Caleb, do you believe God’s inspired words in Scripture or do you Trust in your own understanding or what others tell you ? if we don’t believe His guidelines 100 percent than how can we say something is wrong, is it just because we think it is , who has the final say if we delete in Scripture what we don’t want or add to it what we do.

    Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne.

    1. Dear Annie,

      Thank you for dropping by!

      Yes, I believe that Scriptures are the word of God as the Catechism of the Catholic Church beautifully affirms in paragraphs 105 and their inherency in paragraph 107:

      105 – God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

      107- The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”

      Now I would be a fool to pretend that my own interpretation of the bible is the correct one or infallible. My own human frailties (bias and attachment to sins) and experiences may colored my interpretations of scriptures.

      I rather trust the Church that Christ founded to safeguard the traditions that were passed on to the apostle and the early Church either by word of mouth or written.

      As St. Paul said :

      “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle”.

      2 Thessalonians 2:15

      People rather trust in their own fallible judgement
      than the words of Christ when he gave us one and universal Church. Not many with different views and biblical interpretations. He didn’t leave us a bible but a Church to safeguard his teachings.

      This idea of “Sola scriptura” is not only unbiblical but also it has produced disunity in Christ body. In the form of thousands of Christian denominations with teachings that some time contradict each others.

      Some believe that Baptism is necessary for salvation others do not.

      Some denied the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist others like Luther and Calvin believe that a proper understanding of the Holy Eucharist was essential for salvation.

      Some believe in “once save, always saved” doctrine like Baptist others like Methodist and Anglicans do not.

      Others proposed that their brand of Christianity is the true brand and if you do not belong to that particular denomination you will not be safe or have any hope of salvation.

      Now I asked you do you think this is what Jesus intended when pray to the father:

      “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”.

      John 17:21

      I don’t think so. He pray for unity and unity can only be found in Truth. I believe and trust in the witness of the Church that Christ founded starting with the Apostles and through an unbroken chain of their successors.

      I agree with you that the fullness of Truth has been reveal through the Gospel and that there is no better guideline than the written word of God. However, God also wrote into our hearts a sense of belonging to him. This “sense of belonging” is a longing for the good, the beautiful and the true. Pagan philosophers without the aide of revelation discovered it using reason. They called it “Natural Law”. Is that amazing! That a culture that was completely outside divine revelation not only discovered this but also reach the conclusion as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle did that there was a supreme creator, an unmoved mover. I think that God is amazing and that his mercy is something to be awe by!

      Cheers!

      Caleb

  2. The Apostles, Caleb, only shared God’s truth as confirmed in the Scriptures not their own understanding, in Truth everything Jesus shared with us in the Gospels is also confirmed in other Scriptures both in the Old and New Testaments and even what He told us about the end times is confirmed in them including in the book of Revelations, we can also see them taking place today.

    The Traditions which we have been taught Caleb by our Leadership in the Churches over the years since the early Church and which we are to obey are also confirmed in Scripture, if they are not we reject them.

    But without God’s wisdom and empowering we can’t understand the Scriptures as they are inspired by Him, they are His thought’s -1Corinthians2:9-16

    The Holy Spirit does not say one thing to one person and something different to another when they contradict although He may share with you Caleb something new that you can share with me, or me with you but it will also be confirmed in Scripture, nothing is by the interpretation of man alone. The division we see in the Churches today which Paul warned against, is because man trusted in their own understanding or others, Jesus is our only Teacher.

    So I ask you again Caleb, do you believe what God tells us clearly in Scripture or do you reject it. Sola scriptura is also confirmed in Scripture, we are not to put our Trust in what man tells us without it’s confirmation, all Paul wrote is also confirmed in other Scriptures, that is if we have Spiritual eyes to see.

    What you need to do Caleb as we all do, is go to God and humbly ask for His wisdom and empowering, we are not born with them, I did and I received both, do you think God lied to me (see below) and you can be assured, His wisdom and empowering is not just for me but for all who have Faith in His Truth and if anyone rejects what He tells us it’s sin and will be shown by their words and actions.

    Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

    James 1:5-6 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

    Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

    Luke 11:13 how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

    1 John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

    If we don’t have confidence Caleb that what we share is God’s Truth than we should shut up, if it is confirmed in our heart it will be in Scripture too and if anyone rejects what we share they are the ones in error not us.

    As for those who do not read the Bible, God tells us in Scripture that they will be without excuse because we can see in Creation His reality.

    Blessings – Anne.

    1. Dear Anne,

      Thank you for sharing those awesome verses. I especially find to be very moving and touching Jesus words when he said in Matthew 7:7-8:

      “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find. For everyone who ask shall receive and he who seek finds, and to him who knocks at the door, it shall be open.”

      How true this is and what a difference it can make in our daily life if we search for him in all things that we do, even in the little things, like brewing tea or cleaning, but more importantly in our search for wisdom and understanding two awesome gifts of the Holy Spirit that can only blossom with true humility. I think humility is the key, humility not only in understanding our weakness and limitations but also our gifts and talents.

      Anne, I completely trust in the Gospels because they are the inspired word of God given to us by His Church. I think we both agree that the fullness of revelation was given to the Apostles and that no Church doctrine can contradict scriptures, if it does it should be discarded.

      The question really is who has the infallible authority to interpret the bible. You make the argument that we all do. If we ask for guidance of the Holy Spirit it should be given to you. The problem with this argumentation, as I pointed out to you before, is that there are thousands of Christian denominations preaching unorthodox interpretation of the bible. You responded by saying that they do not really understand the bible or they rather adhere to a man-made interpretation instead of what the bible says but who has the authority to adjudicate what the bible says? They can easily turned back at you and tell you that they have prayed and asked for inspiration of the Holy Spirit and their interpretation of the Bible is the correct one and that you are wrong. This creates a circular argument.

      Take for example the Mormons. One of their main arguments in favor of unorthodox teachings of the Book of the Mormons is that they ask people to pray about it and ask for inspiration of the Holy Spirit and they will received the “Burning of the Boson” that confirms that it is true. I don’t think that the Holy Spirit is deceiving them, but rather, that as fallen creatures we can deceive our self.

      This is why Christ founded a Church and gave her the authority to bind and to loose. This has not only a strong biblical foundation (Mathew 16 and many other passages) but also it is the understanding of the early Christians who writings give witness of what was like to be a Christian not 80 years after our Lords death and resurrection. It is the Church inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit that has that authority and duty to preserved the Faith through out the ages (Matthew 28:19-20).

      Cheers,

      Caleb

      1. As they say Caleb…. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

        Meaning… we can only judge the quality of something after we have, tried, used, or experienced it.

        I can’t speak for others but I know without doubt that what I share is God’s Truth because I have tested and tried it and it is confirmed in Scripture without Translation error or Cult deception.

        The Mormons do not base their Truth on the Bible but on the book of Mormon, all Cults have they own Translations of The Scriptures or added books with things added or taken out of the Scriptures. The Mormons do not believe in the Godhead or Trinity as we call Them today in the same way as we do, when I showed them the reality that They were One in Spirit but have different roles, with God The Father being in Total Authority and confirmed this with Scripture, they would not accept it, which shows they do not have The Holy Spirit even if claiming they have. We do not pray for confirmation of man’s understanding but for God’s.

        It was the leaders of the established Church in Jesus time that sought to have Him crucified.

        When we read about the early Church that He established, it’s Authority was Christ Himself not man and Paul affirmed this in his letters..

        Show me in Scripture Caleb where it confirms Mary was Born without Sin and remained a Virgin and that we are to pray to her to Intercede for us and I will show you were it tells us the opposite.

        Let’s get real and not add to Scripture or take away from it, as we are told not to do in Revelation 22. The Book of Prophesy is all God’s inspired words in Scripture, which from start to finish show His reality, Power and Authority,

        Blessings – Anne

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