What’s wrong with the following statements:
- “Nothing is universally true.”
- “All generalizations are false.”
- “No belief is true for everyone.”
- “Everything is relative.”
- “Everyone’s beliefs are true or false only relative to himself.”
What do we mean when we say that these statements commit the self-excepting fallacy?
When someone says, “Everything is relative” does he expect that others should believe his statement and adjust their lives to it? How would you respond to someone who says: “I don’t think it’s right for you to expect other people to accept your beliefs”?
Does the person making this statement expect others to accept his belief? Convert the following into absolutes:
- Who are you to judge? Judging is _____________! (wrong)
- I think you’re being intolerant. Intolerance is ______________! (wrong)
- It offends me when you think I should believe what you believe. Offending is _________! (wrong)
Are these absolute opinions binding on all people?
How would you respond to someone who says: “That’s true for you, but not for me.” “That’s just your interpretation.”
Every student entering university believes…..
“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: They will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2+2=4.”
“The danger university students have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating.
Openness—and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and the various ways of life and kinds of human beings—is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger.
The study of history and culture teaches that …men always thought they were right and that led to wars, persecution, slavery, xenophobia (fear of foreigners or strangers), racism and chauvinism.
The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are ever right at all.” (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 25-26)
Universality and Particularity at the core of Christianity:
“The Christian faith is based upon the conviction that God has revealed truth about himself and humankind—truth centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ that needs to be both believed and acted upon if sinful human beings are to be restored to a proper relationship with their Creator.”
“The Christian gospel thus has elements of both universality and particularity at its core: universality in that all humankind (including sincere adherents of other religions) are sinners and in need of redemption by God’s grace, and in that God desires the salvation of all irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion; and particularity in that God’s salvation comes to us through a particular person, Jesus Christ the utterly unique incarnation of God who took upon himself the sins of the world” (Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission, IVP, 2001).
Three basic truths to remember:
“However we arrange the various theological and non-theological factors involved in belief or unbelief, we must not lose sight of three basic truths: (1) that the faith that brings salvation is itself a gift of God’s grace, given at God’s initiative, (2) that sinful human beings are being invited, indeed commanded, to repent and accept the gospel, and (3) that both God’s invitation and our response are mediated through social and cultural contexts in which we find ourselves.” (Encountering Religious Pluralism, Harold Netland, IVP, 2001)
“Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me’” (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12; see also: 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2)