Relativism and the Church

Relativism is the third tooth in the mouth of the wolf that attacks the church. This one is particularly nasty, in my opinion, because it is so prevalent, and so hard to fight. You can’t always even use logic to fight this one, because they usually reject logic outright (at least, they say they do). The consequences are severe for the church. Everything becomes “relational,” while commitment to truth simultaneously erodes (see Sittema, With a Shepherd’s Heart, p. 61). The only thing that is absolutely wrong is to hold absolute values (pp. 62-63). Church discipline becomes extremely difficult, since how dare those elders tell me that I am sinning! People lose conviction that the Bible is really God’s Word.

Sittema gives us five suggestions on how to fight this horrific error. 1. Proclaim loudly and often the infallible and absolute authority of the Bible; 2. Call sin by its rightful name: sin! 3. Teach the Bible (I would include with this Bible memorization); 4. Rebuke sinners with the Bible; and 5. Lead by example. I might add a few other suggestions here that will help, especially geared towards young people, who are the most affected by relativism. 6. Teach young people the catechisms, so that it’s in their blood. 7. Preach against the television (who can fight the indoctrination of relativism if the television has such a complete grasp of the time of our young people? Plus, there is usually little of value on the TV) 8. Teach apologetics to the youth groups and to college age folks, so that they are not only aware of relativism, but also how to understand it and avoid it, and even maybe help others avoid it.

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7 Comments

  1. Ron said,

    July 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    7. Preach against the television (who can fight the indoctrination of relativism if the television has such a complete grasp of the time of our young people?

    Not very Reformed sounding to some, but I can go along with that.

    8. Teach apologetics to the youth groups and to college age folks, so that they are not only aware of relativism, but also how to understand it and avoid it, and even maybe help others avoid it.

    Not to become partisan, but if you teach the wrong sort of apologetics, things can get pretty relativistic in a in a hurry. I trust you had presuppositional apologetics in mind. :)

  2. greenbaggins said,

    July 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Ron, I did indeed have presuppositional apologetics in mind.

  3. Ron said,

    July 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Lane, I had zero doubt you did. :)

  4. John Knox said,

    July 21, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Lead by example, and preach against the television. So, are we to believe this means we should not watch tv? I mean, personally I am all about books myself, but it seems very fundamentalist to go down that route.

    I’m 150% on board with the call a spade a spade, preach and defend the word, and teach the catechism though.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    July 21, 2011 at 9:13 am

    JK, I am not totally against the TV. However, the state of affairs that I typically see in Christian households is that the TV is simply allowed indiscriminately. Relativism oozes from every circuit of modern TV. If we do not find a way to combat that, then we are in serious trouble. I have found that the easiest way for my family to do this is only to watch movies. TV is mostly a waste of time. The only thing I would even watch on TV any more is sports. When you add the soft porn in the advertising commercials, what is left that is of value? I would not be legalistic about this. I just think that there are better ways to spend our time. Neil Postman’s book *Amusing Ourselves to Death* comes to mind at this juncture. So, I wouldn’t preach against the TV for fundamentalist reasons, but for apologetic reasons, and also to indicate better ways to spend our time. Our family doesn’t even miss watching TV!

  6. Frank Davies said,

    July 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Unpack the presuppositional apologetics comment a bit more.

  7. paigebritton said,

    July 22, 2011 at 7:02 am

    TV seems to be just the tip of the iceberg anymore…

    I like your #6, and I would add as well the idea of saturating young people (and new believers) with the richness of God-honoring human creativity (literature, theology, art, music, etc.), because possessing examples of beauty and excellence and rightness in our mental furniture is the best defense against what is shabby and careless and false.


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