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The challenge for Christianity today
After decades of being dismissed as irrelevant, there are clear signs that even in secular Australia, Christianity is being taken seriously again as a significant cultural factor.
Since the Enlightenment of the 18th century, the prevailing intellectual fashion has held that there is a purely rational explanation for everything.
A development of this was the notion that there was no such thing as truth. The influence of this idea is very strong. An American survey showed that 66 percent of adults responded that they believe that "there is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct", and 72 percent of those aged 18 to 25 held this view.
While this seems to be something new, it is actually the same sentiment expressed by Pontius Pilate: "What is truth?"
The proposition that there is no absolute truth contradicts human experience: particularly the laws of nature, and the moral law which decrees, for example, that many actions including murder, slavery, theft, calumny and exploitation of others are always evil.
In fact, even those who say there is no absolute truth make decisions every day based on the knowledge that many things are true.
Further, the failure of 20th century ideologies based on atheism - including nazism, fascism and communism - has also discredited the idea that there are no moral absolutes.
The demise of rationalism has been accompanied by a return to belief, as seen in the Islamic world and in the former Soviet empire, where Christianity has emerged from decades of persecution.
In Australia today, the challenge is to show through word and deed that Christianity, which believes in moral absolutes and proposes a way of life modelled on Jesus Christ, has the answers for a society still wallowing in moral uncertainty and intellectual confusion.
Peter Westmore is the Publisher of AD2000.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 10 (November 2004), p. 2
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