Relativism. What am I talking about? No, not fusses or disputes among one’s in-laws or other family members. Oxford’s Dictionary defines relativism as “the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.” In other words, what is right for me might not be right for you. It depends upon personal experience and current circumstances. In fact, what is right for me and what is right for you may be in direct contradiction and opposition to one another. This is the “thinking” of relativism.
Relativism has spawned the foolishness of “political correctness” that dominates public speaking, government policy, and public education. Though I support President Bush, I was greatly disturbed by his speech on October 11, 2002 when he referred to Islam as “a great religion” and one “that brings comfort to people” and “inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion” (www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/ramadan/islam.html). Obviously, the President ignored the history of Islam. Islam was born in violence and has sustained itself through the same for more than 1300 years, but relativism and its associated pressures wouldn’t allow the President to speak the truth about Islam.
In a similar vein, “Americans of faith” have bought into this destructive philosophy. Whatever one chooses to believe is perfectly acceptable so long as one is sincere, doesn’t bother anyone else or attempt to sway others to his way of thinking. Such ideology is not only illogical, it is unbiblical!
Consider – repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of life. Therefore, any call for repentance is a rejection of relativism. Yet, repentance was the clarion call of John the Immerser, the forerunner of Christ: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judaea saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” and, “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt 3:1-2, 8 NKJV). Jesus began His public ministry with the same call to repent (Matt 4:17). The first command of the sermon inaugurating New Testament Christianity was a command to repent (Acts 2:38, and the same goes for the second recorded Gospel sermon – 3:19). Paul called for the Athenians to repent (Acts 17:30), and recalled to Agrippa that his message from the beginning was a message of repentance (Acts 26:20).
Relativism allows the Bible to teach differing and contradictory doctrines, though in truth it can never do such (1 Cor 14:33; 2 Tim 3:16-17). When one man denies the essentiality of baptism for salvation while another affirms its necessity, but neither considers the other to be in the wrong, that is relativism. Either the Bible teaches the essentiality of baptism or it does not, but it does not teach both! Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21 say baptism saves. Acts 2:38 says baptism is the means by which remission of sins is obtained. Acts 22:16 says ones sins are not washed away until one is baptized. Baptism is the “washing of regeneration” by which one is justified by the grace of God and made an heir according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7).
Friend, it does matter what one believes on this matter! If two can “agree to disagree” about the nature and purpose of baptism, then they can do the same with any other New Testament teaching, including the nature and divinity of Christ. One may deny the virgin birth, the perfect life of Jesus, His miracles, and His resurrection. Such are the poisonous effects of relativism. The scriptures are of no private (individual) interpretation (2 Pet 1:20), and all Christians are commanded to “speak the same thing,” being “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor 1:10).