Sunday, 29 April 2007

Truth: An Intellectual's Apology VIII

First of all, I must give you all my apologies for having not written in quite so long. We've had computer shortages and work overload here, so I've had to take a wholly undesired break from my writing. Fear not, however: I have no intention to become an infrequent poster, so shall continue now much as before. And Gavin: go and read the whole of that post. You've had long enough to get round to it! So I thought I'd return to my apologetics.

Truth

Many of you will have read my previous, rather dry post (Gavin!!!), concerning the quest for one absolute truth. Its underlying supposition is that truth exists. To me, that's fairly incontrovertible. After all, the statement 'truth does not exist' is a contradiction: it cannot possibly be a true statement. On the other hand, the statement 'Today is Sunday' is true. At least at the time of writing. Just like the one 'Tomorrow I have my A-level French Oral exam. Argh!'.

Relativism

You'll be glad to know that this post concerns applied theory, rather than the theory itself. For anyone who might not know, relativism is a philosophy based on the idea that 'truth does not exist'.

The problem with it is that it paralyses us. It comes from the decent idea of respect for each other, and for others' opinions and beliefs. Yet, increasingly, respect means that we are loosing the right to differ. So what does this mean in action?

The best example can be seen from earlier this year: the good old 'Sexual Orientation Regulations'. I shall avoid my temptations to indulge in homoscepticism - the problem is what Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor (what a name) called the birth of 'a new morality'. In refusing to give Catholics - and other doctrinally pure Christians - the right to exemption from what they perceive to be sinful legislation, the Government has over-ruled our right to religious freedom. Essentially, we now have a situation where by Religion is fine, unless you happen to believe it so strongly that you believe others to be wrong. Essentially, the Catholic Church has been instructed that - in its secular affairs - it must conform to the majority rather than to its own beliefs.

"Stop Press"

Whilst taking a break from writing, I discovered a pleasing article on the BBC website, about the impending re-introduction of the Tridentine Rite. Whilst this is pleasing, the general public's reaction to it is less so. Apart from the anti-RC rants that the page has received, the concern seems to be focusing on one part of the Good Friday liturgy: praying for the Conversion of the Jews.

Here, I am pleased to be able to consult my ancient Saint Andrew Daily Missal - useful once more - to tell you off the offending passages. After having prayed for 'the holy Church of God', 'our most Holy Pope N', 'all bishops, priests, deacons, sub-deacons, acolytes, exorcists, lectors, porters, confessors, virgins, widows, and for all the holy people of God', 'all rulers of States, their assistants and authorities', 'our catechumens', forgiveness from sin 'heretics and schismatics', we reach this:

"Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that our God and Lord would withdraw the veil from their hearts: that they may also acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ...
Almighty and eternal God, who drivest not away from Thy mercy even the faithless Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people: that acknowledging the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from darkness."

Following this is prayer for 'the pagans', and for their general salvation.

Now this is perfectly reasonable. according to Christian belief: indeed, it's very good of us to be concerned for the salvation of others: it is what we are all called to strive for daily. So why do people scream and shout? Jewish sources have called it 'anti-Semitism'. Hang on a second, please. Since when was it racist to say that, as Christians, we believe that others should believe in Christ?

Simply, since relativism took hold. As it has in some 'churches'. Except that they call in 'inclusivism' there. (Incidentally, I find it amusingly ironic that the closest approximation to 'inclusivism' of my spell-checker is 'anglicanism'....)

I take solace from the recent words of the Holy Father: 'Truth is not determined by a majority vote'.

1 comment:

Francis said...

I agree entirely with your point about it not being wrong to think that others should believe what we do. What I object to, is when people think that I should believe in something that they believe in which just so happens to have no logic or grounding supporting it, e.g. 'You should vote Conservative 'cos they're just better' - I don't object to jusitified sharing of opinions at all