Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, September 14, 2004




part 2



IV.       Relativism:  Roots and Refutations (Corduan, chapter two)


A.        Four laws of logic/thought/communication


1.         Law of identity:  “A” is identical to “A”


2.         Law of contradiction (sometimes called the law of noncontradiction):  “A” is not identical to “non-A”


3.         Law of excluded middle:  Not both “A” and “non-A”; not third option


4.         Law of bivalence:  any unambiguous proposition “A” is either true or false; not neither true nor false, not both true and false


5.         Logic and God (see also, Geisler and Brooks, Come Let us Reason:  An Introduction to Logical Thinking, chapter one)


a.         God is logical; does not break the rules (Isaiah 1:18:  John 1:1


b.         This is no limit on God, but a virtue.  God cannot deny or contradict himself or tell a lie.


c.         Omnipotence does not and can not entail actualizing logical contradictions


B.         The challenge of relativism


1.         Denies law of contradiction for statements


2.         Or:  makes truth relative to individuals or cultures


3.         Conceptual relativism:  every concept is relative


4.         Moral relativism:  only moral concepts are relative


a.         Normative relativism


b.         Individualist relativism


C.        Six roots of relativism


1.         The information explosion makes objective, absolute, universal knowledge impossible


2.         The claim to objective, absolute, universal knowledge leads to totalitarianism and intolerance


3.         The sincerity of religious believers means they cannot be wrong


4.         “Buddhist logic” allows for contradictions to be true; only “Western logic” disallows this


5.         Having individual rights means I can determine my own truth


6.         Humility requires relativism; otherwise dogmatism


·        Tolerance requires relativism


D.        Moreland against relativism


1.         Descriptive relativism a weak thesis concerning principles


2.         Against normative relativism


a.         What is the morally relevant culture? Indeterminacy problem


b.         May belong to more than one culture.  Indeterminacy problem


c.         Reformer’s dilemma; reductio ad absurdum


d.         Some acts are clearly wrong whatever society you are in:  we have knowledge of particular moral truths  


e.         One society could not blame another morally, given this theory; reductio ad absurdum



V.       The Christian World View—Objectively:  The Faith (Sire, chapter two; Groothuis, On Jesus, chapters 4 – 7)


A.        World-view:  assumptions about the basic make up of the world (James Sire, Universe, 16).  See also David Nagle, Worldview:  The History of  Concept (Eerdmans, 2002)


B.         Importance of world views, meta-narratives—for individuals and cultures


C.        The Christian world view (J. Sire, chapter two)


1.         God is infinite and personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


2.         God created the cosmos ex nihilo with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


3.         Human beings are created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27] and thus possess personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


4.         Human beings can know both the world around them and God himself because God has built into them the capacity to do so and because he takes an active role in communicating with them.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


5.         Human beings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, though not so ruined as not to be capable of restoration; through the work of Christ, God redeemed humanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness, though any given person may chose to reject that redemption.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


6.         For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation [hell] from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


7.         Ethics is transcendent and is based on the character of God as good (holy and loving).


·        Jesus’ worldview…


8.         History is linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes in history.


·        Jesus’ worldview…


9.         Touchstone proposition:  The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine restoration) is created by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, conscience, Scripture, and through the Incarnation.” (D. Groothuis revision of Ronald Nash, Faith and Reason)