Relativism: worldviews do matter

JP: Good read by Chuck Colson. Image is cover art from Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air.

A Serious Decay – We’re paying the bill for relativism


… if we look honestly at what started the credit crisis—moral failures and following false worldviews—we recognize that the solution demands more than any political savior can possibly deliver.

The roots of the crisis go beyond political blunders to Wall Street, which devised a clever new product: Buy mortgages from banks, bundle them into mortgage-based securities, and sell them. Wall Street bankers reaped a windfall, but the scheme shifted the risk from the lending bank or mortgage broker to some Swiss hedge fund. Unintended consequences quickly followed. With cash flooding into the banks (which had no risks), every savings and loan, Internet start-up, lender, and mortgage broker urged people to take mortgages whether they could repay them or not.

Individuals, having collectively run up trillions in debt and a zero rate of savings, share much of the blame—but no one accepts responsibility. When the meltdown started in October, the culprits in Congress feigned surprise; the public flooded them with e-mails opposing the bailout, half of them (according to polls) because they didn’t feel responsible. So much for the public good.

This is dramatic evidence that worldviews do matter. The dominant attitude of recent decades says there are no moral truths—that we should simply live for the moment and get whatever we can out of life. This worldview has led to the chaos we are experiencing. By contrast, the Christian worldview teaches us to live within our means, defer gratification, and treat others honorably—all requirements for sustaining personal prosperity and the free-market system.

But free markets can remain free only if individuals behave responsibly and police themselves. We are not doing that today; we have ignored moral restraints, even labeling them intolerant.

This financial crisis is in reality a crisis of character. And the taxpayers are stuck with a staggering bill and a shaky economic future.

The long-term casualty of this debacle is freedom. When free societies abuse their freedom, governments step in.

…. we Christians have an even bigger job. Unless we can renew in our culture a worldview encouraging virtue and responsibility, the economic maelstrom of the past year will only be a foretaste of things to come.


‘Relativism’ is a philosophical theory asserting that there is no absolute truth, only truth relative to the individual, or to a particular time or culture, or both.

A close cousin to relativism is “subjectivism”, essentially the belief that all beliefs are purely matters of personal opinion.

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