"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8.32
The arguments for relative truth are as well-rehearsed as you would expect with such a crucial aspect of the spirit of the age - this age. With incredible swiftness and sleight of hand the old orthodoxy of there being such a thing as absolute truth - whatever that might be - sometime around the turn of the century was swept away in favour of the fluid situation we have today where everyone is allowed their version of truth, as long as it doesn't impact upon anyone else's. And "there lieth the rub", for such an approach cannot possibly prevail in an integrated society. Indeed the cynic might say that relative truth came of age during the current pandemic because we are all conveniently inhabiting the mutually exclusive bubbles required by relative truth!
What the purveyors of relative truth don't say - because they probably wouldn't admit it - is that there is a hierarchy within the universe of relative truth. That hierarchy favours the most liberal attitudes and rejects anything smelling of judgment or accountability to a "higher being". Christianity is rejected immediately and the other religious traditions are only tolerated so far as they remain discreet and because such tolerance reflects well on those who like to consider themselves to be broad-minded. But the minute they overstep the mark, dark mutterings of "radical" and "chauvinistic" and "mediaeval" begin to swirl.
In his seasonal masterpiece, poet laureate John Betjeman wrote:
"No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives to-day in bread and wine."
This hints at a very different kind of truth: not relative, not even absolute as the moral and political philosophers might understand it. It is ultimate truth in that it is both universal and personal, finding its expression in the Living Being who is Jesus and experienced though following him. This last is the force of the quotation at the top of the page, where the same Jesus is addressing fellow Jews about the implications of discipleship. The same invitation is offered to us today: will we choose the kind of truth that confines us in our bubble, or will we opt for the truth that sets us free?