Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
July 22, 2002
The deception of 'Christian' relativism
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
Demographic sociologist Reginald Bibby, in his 2001 book, Canada's Teens: Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, documents a modest rebound in religious service attendance among teens, up from a nadir of 18 per cent in 1992, to 22 per cent in 2000. Not only that, Bibby's surveys indicate that 78 per cent of teens believe in life after death; 73 per cent affirm that God exists; and a surprising 65 per cent say they believe Jesus Christ was the divine Son of God.
On the other hand, Bibby charts a substantial decline in honesty as an esteemed personal value among today's adolescents, and suggests this ethical slippage is due to the fact that moral relativism has become the dominant social credo, with external influences, like religion, discounted as guidelines for determining right from wrong.
For example, only 35 per cent of teens surveyed said they would return $10 extra in change handed them by mistake at a store checkout (compared with 74 per cent of adults).
Bibby also notes that 65 per cent of teen respondents agree with the statement: "what's right or wrong is a matter of personal opinion;" 83 per cent approve of heterosexual premarital sex; and 61 per cent think it's OK for consenting adults to do anything they want to sexually; while nine per cent think extramarital affairs are acceptable; and 56 per cent think teens should be free to do anything they want sexually.
And why wouldn't they? It's no surprise that most kids nowadays are reflexive moral relativists. Our secular humanist culture has brainwashed them from their cradle days with relativist dogma like "it's only wrong if you think it's wrong," or "what's right for one may not be right for another," or "each person has to discover his/her own truth," ad infinitum.
Relativism is the message they've heard in the entertainment media, in school, from their baby boomer and Gen-X parents, and often in Church as well, if they attend.
Bibby suggests that the modest uptick of Church attendance among teenagers may be attributable to increased emphasis on youth ministry by many Christian denominations.
However, one is obliged to conclude that whatever modest influence churches are having on youth culture, if they are not aggressively refuting moral relativism, is not articulating the essential message of the Christian Gospel.
There is no room for moral relativism in Christianity, which is founded on the absolute and immutable revealed Law of God, notwithstanding fifth-columns of relativist subversives and saboteurs in most churches these days who will argue otherwise.
Despite the caricature too commonly projected, Jesus was not an amiable and permissive peacenik who preached a hippie-style ideology of hazily-defined "love," in contrast to the "mean" God of the Old Testament with his legalistic demands. Jesus unequivocally and forcefully affirmed the Law.
"Do not think I came to abolish law of the prophets," Jesus declared, "I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. . . . Verily I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished."
Who knows what many of those 65 per cent of teenagers who say they believe Jesus is the Son of God perceive that to mean? The contextual inference is that they haven't grasped what Jesus meant by it.
This is a difficult and confusing time in history for Christians, teen or adult. There have been cultures in the past that were hostile to Christianity, but ours is the first post-Christian culture.
Christians had no trouble differentiating themselves from cultures that wanted to stone them, imprison them and kill them, but our culture is much more subtly anti-Christian, and many contemporary nominal Christians have a great deal of trouble differentiating themselves from it.
"Do not love the world," Jesus warned, "nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome."
The apostle Paul admonished Christians "not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler" - not even to eat with such a one. Paul clarified that he was referring here to those who claim to be Christians -"not the immoral people of this world - for then you would have to go out of the world."
So while it's encouraging that a large proportion of young people are interested in religion, and smaller but growing numbers are attending church, a feel-good, relativist Christianity is no Christianity at all. It is post-Christianity at best - liberal humanism dressed up in Christian clothes and as such a cruel deception.
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