Truth vs Moral Relativism
By: Thomas Lindaman
The liberal media denounce Pope Benedict’s adherence to Biblical and historical truth as rigidity. They want pragmatism and flexibility, which amounts to moral relativism.
Pope Benedict and Christianity stand accused of “divisiveness.”
Liberals, along with Muslims, denounced the Pope last September when he spoke at the University of Regensburg. The New York Times demanded an apology for his lack of sensitivity.
What exactly had he done?
As reported in a VOA News article by Sabina Castelfranco, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Islam and violence. At a morning mass, he rejected the use of God’s name to justify hatred and fanaticism.
In a theological address to academics at Regensburg University, the pope spoke of the relationship between faith and reason and Islam’s holy war, Jihad. Historically, he said, spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable and therefore, ungodly.
This so distressed Muslims that they were driven to murder Catholic nuns and priests and to destroy Christian churches to prove that Islam is not a religion of violence.
Now, with the Pope’s forthcoming journey to Turkey for discussions with Islamic mullahs, the media have another opportunity to chastise Christians. The Wall Street Journal, in its edition of November 25, 2006, spotlights the Pope’s forthrightness in a front-page, feature article by Gabriel Kahn and Stacy Meichtry.
The Journal article’s headline is A Tumultuous World Tests a Rigid Pope: Inside the Vatican, Benedict’s intellect and style intimidate. How will they play outside the Church? Confronting Muslim anger. If you are an online Journal subscriber, read the article here.
The reporters observe disapprovingly, Nineteen months after being selected pope, Benedict is transforming the Vatican with a different style and a different stance. Beneath his blunt words and rigid style lies a profound divergence from John Paul’s buoyant optimism. Pope Benedict believes that the Roman Catholic Church must stand apart from the world of today rather than embrace it.
…… For Benedict, the modern age is defined by growing secularism in the West and the rise of religious fanaticism most everywhere else. In order to fulfill its mission, he believes, the Church needs to shun both forces. Benedict is “pessimistic about the compatibility of the Church and the modern world,” says Mr. Spaemann.
….. Benedict’s emphasis on tradition risks alienating a broad cross-section of Catholics who argue the Church needs to become more accessible to maintain its increasingly diverse flock.
Many people mistakenly assume that, because the Journal’s editorial staff is conservative, the Journal’s news staff are similarly aligned. This front page article is a good example, both of the Journal’s liberal slant on news coverage, and of present-day moral relativism in action.
Implicit in the article is the viewpoint that there is no such thing as truth, no such thing as right or wrong. The writers have absorbed the relativistic view inculcated in today’s colleges and universities that flexibility and pragmatism, other names for moral relativism, ought to be the sole criteria for belief and action. Adherence to the truth is characterized as impractical rigidity.
Flexibility and pragmatism were the watchwords of John Dewey, the 20th century’s most influential liberal-socialist-progressive. The doctrine of Pragmatism which he popularized was that Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis had proved everything to be continually changing and evolving. Thus there can be no such thing as permanent moral truth from God, rooted in human nature, because there is no such thing as fixed human nature. Pragmatism, instead, teaches that there are only actions that get you what you want, or fail to do so, in changing circumstances; the end justifies the means.
In the vein of Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism, the Journal reporters simply assume that the goal of Christian churches ought to be maximizing their membership by reaching a doctrinal compromise that would alienate the fewest people. It seems not to have occurred to them that a Christian church has no purpose other than preaching the New Testament Gospel as written. Without that, there is no Christian church.
Flexibility and pragmatism are the hallmarks of a society that no longer believes in itself, because it has lost touch with the traditions that brought the society into being and enabled it to survive against outside aggressors. They are the hallmarks of societies in political decline.
Flexibility and pragmatism, as Professor James Q. Wilson wrote in astonishment, led his students to reject the judgment that Hitler’s National Socialism and his Holocaust were evil, because those students had been taught that right and wrong are unscientific value judgments.
If Pope Benedict’s allegiance to Biblical Truth alienates a broad cross-section of the Church’s diverse flock, the logical conclusion is both that the alienated portion of the flock is not truly Christian, and that some Catholic priests have drifted into heretical doctrine and taught falsehood to their parishioners. Unfortunately, the same is true of the Protestant denominations, as well.
Compromises on Jesus’ teachings, Sunday morning entertainment, and feel-good messages are not Christianity. Preaching the Bible’s truth is the only way to bring individuals into a fruitful relationship with God and the only way to maintain the integrity of Christianity.
To do otherwise would be the equivalent of instructing Marine Corps volunteers in boot camp that Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Corps, but it isn’t necessary always to be faithful to your buddies in combat and to fight for each other if you have a different opinion or just don’t feel comfortable with the history and traditions of the Corps.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.