Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Going beyond genuine tolerance

A good essay by Mark L.Y. Chan, a resident of Singapore where Christians must, by necessity, work out how to live among other faiths, and how to answer those who argue that all spirituality leads to the same place: "Sowing Subversion in the Field of Relativism":
.... Real tolerance entails putting up with what one considers to be error. Precisely because there are genuine differences between people, we see tolerance as a virtue.

By insisting that there is no such thing as universal truth, except the universal truth that there is no such thing as universal truth, relativism is as absolutist as the claim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. One cannot insist with the pluralist that all religious and moral truth claims are equally valid, and at the same time maintain with the relativist that there is no one ultimate truth that alone makes sense of the diversity of truth claims.

The Christian faith condemns arrogance and an attitude of superiority toward people of other faiths and, for that matter, people of no faith. ....

Christians are called to love rather than tolerate people, and in so doing to mirror God's love for all people. This includes ardent relativists, sanguine pluralists, and pugnacious atheists. In commending the truth in the face of relativism, we must keep in mind that we are at root dealing with people, not cold ideas. The relativist is not just a representative of a worldview but a flesh-and-blood person with all the needs and longings of a human made in God's image. More important than winning the argument against relativism is winning the relativist for Christ. ....

Meeting people of all faiths and persuasions at the level of our common humanity is a good starting place to share the truth of Christ. In the safety of genuine friendship, where trust is earned and respected, people can honestly question their fundamental assumptions. Christians can sow seeds of subversion in the field of relativism by raising questions about the adequacy of moral relativism as a guide for living. Can one really live without absolute truth? How many are actually persuaded that there is no difference between Mother Teresa and Pol Pot? ....

To believe in absolute truth is to run counter to the spirit of the age. We can expect to be ridiculed, ostracized, and opposed. We need to be reminded that the one who was Truth Incarnate, the one John describes as "full of grace and truth," became Truth Crucified at the hands of those bent on snuffing out the light of truth. Darkness did not have the last word. Light pierced the tomb of Jesus, and in the resurrection of Christ, we have Truth Vindicated. .... [more]
Sowing Subversion in the Field of Relativism | The Global Conversation