“Truth is not determined by a majority vote.”
― Pope Benedict XVI
What we are seeing in our time is a generation, where truth is relative to what people wish to believe. Those with this mindset have now infiltrated and are actively taking over our Christian institutions. It is influenced by a Science of Religion that was not, as a rule, done by advocates of the Christian faith. The anti-Christian theory that all religions may be derived from some preconceived philosophy with the emphasis placed a so called openness. They have included Christ in the same category with Plato and Buddha, or a minor prophet, and have generally placed Him upside down; and this supposed openness has given them a degree of influence with dubious and wavering Christians, as well as with multitudes, which are without faith of any kind. Many other works designed to show that Christianity was developed from ancient myths, or sell fiction stories about him, have been current among us. But strangely enough, the Christian Churches, except the Catholic Church, which watches centralized over its belief, has seemed to regard this subject as scarcely worthy of serious defense. That is very surprising, because in a single word, the struggle of truth and error has become world-wide globalized and localized at the same time.
The inter-religious discourse
There are no ethnic religions anymore. There is Christianity in Beijing, and there is Buddhism in Munich. This is fine. Western intellectuals surpringly have manifested an ardent affinity to extremist ideologies against human rights, rational thought (as opposed to dogma), tolerance and an open society if it comes from Islam. The line of struggle is the parallel that belts the globe. There must be no blundering: the counter-missionary effort must be waged with arguments of precision, while thoroughly expansive religions claim there victory is sure. It is like last centuries Christian missionary effort has drawn the fire of the enemy with a time delay towards Europe, and the current Christians don’t even notice. There is a reason, perhaps, why these hostile systems have been underestimated.
Not only is the modern missionary enterprise of the Christian churches in self doubt, also the Christians themselves are. Before you can act efficiently in self-defense for you Religion, you have to know your own religion and have a basic understanding of others. Good men are asking, “Is not such a study a waste of energy? And my answer, “No: by all means. Another view of the subject is more serious. May there not, after all, be danger in the study of false systems? Will there not be found perplexing parallels which will shake our trust in the positive and exclusive supremacy of the Christian faith, or we start cherry picking? Well, the early church, when brought face to face with the culture of Greece and the self-assertion of Roman state, when confronted with profound philosophies like those of Plato and Aristotle, and with countless admixtures of Gnostic mysticism, had quite as formidable a task as those that are presented in the countless false belief systems of to-day. It will be of advantage, for one thing, if we learn to give credit to the non-Christian religions (and the philosophy’s) for the good which they may fairly claim.
Crusade of the atheists
In a world that has become relativistic, a new paganism has gained more and more influence over people’s thoughts and actions. A new intolerance is spreading. There are imposed standards of thinking that are supposed to be imposed on everyone. The aggressiveness with which this new religion appears was described by the German magazine “Spiegel” as a “crusade of the atheists”. It is a crusade that mocks Christianity as the illusion and classifies every religion as a curse. Anti-Christian writers have made great capital of the alleged crimes of Christianity; also here it is useful to counter based on facts on whichever side the truth may be. Whether the secular press (not all media are thus unfair) are influenced by partisan hatred of the truth or simply by a reckless regard for whatever is most popular does not matter. The saddest consideration is that the power of the secular press is so vast and far reaching. When Plato wrote, books were few. When Voltaire, Hume, Marx and Nietzsche made their assailants on the Christian faith, the discussion was worthwhile. But now the accumulated opinions and opinionated judgments of the new infidels are spread relentlessly. It became a sermon rather than a philosophic debate, with the Christian sermon never heard in the owerpowering white noise.
Dictatorship of relativism
“We are building a dictatorship of relativism”, Pope Benedict declared in his homily at the opening of the conclave [in 2005], “that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate standard consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” The truth comes to rule, not through violence, but rather through its own right; this is the central theme of John’s Gospel: When brought before Pilate, Jesus professes that he himself is The Truth and the witness to the truth.
In his futuristic novel Brave New World, the British author Aldous Huxley had predicted in 1932 that deception and lies would be the decisive element of modernity. Today, in fact, truth is regarded as subjective and the distinction between genuine and fake seems to have been discarded. Everything seems negotiable. History has sufficiently demonstrated how destructive majorities can be, for instance, in systems such as Nazism and Marxism, all of which also stood against truth in particular.
Taking a stand.
It is perfectly evident that in an age like this we cannot propagate Christianity without brain and heart. But it needs also patience. Several days ago I entered in a blog exchange with a difficult fellow. After three interactions, I politely broke up the conversation, because I became bored with his substance-less illogical argumentation style. Was I right? I think I was not.
“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord … and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone.”
― Pope Benedict XVI