• Read Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Suess.
    • Discuss what a Christian perspective on the book might be.
    • Lots of good advice about not being mediocre and not just following the crowd.
    • Points out very well that life isn’t always very easy, and can be very lonely—“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
    • Problems? Who ultimately decides what is right for you to do? You! “And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
  • Read Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, 1849-1903.
    Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
    In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
      Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate:
      I am the captain of my soul.
    • Discuss what a Christian perspective on this poem might be.
    • How does it compare to the Dr. Suess book?
    • Problems? Who ultimately decides your fate? “I am the master of my fate?”
    • Incidentally, this poem is probably most well-known today as the poem that Timothy McVeigh read just before he was executed.
  • How does this all relate to relativism?
    • Dr. Suess—“And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
    • “I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul.”
  • It is easy to think of relativism as moral relativism—whatever is right and wrong is up to each person to decide for themselves. It’s really much deeper than that. (Thoughts inspired by Chuck Colson.)
    • Pride is at the very center of relativism.
    • Relativism is me declaring that only I know what is best for myself.
    • Ironically, it masquerades as humility. It sounds terribly humble to say that everyone can make their own decisions—while forgetting to mention that the biggest reason I want to be a relativist is that it also means that I don’t have to answer to anyone. It also likes to call anyone who thinks there are moral absolutes “arrogant.”
    • Chuck Colson (time at 14:26 on Family Life Today broadcast)—“We live in a time of what’s called postmodernism, which means there is no truth, everything is relative, so there’s no standards, no yardsticks, nothing to measure your life by.”
    • On June 6, 2005, [Pope Benedict XVI] told educators:
      “Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ‘ego.’”
    • You can also think of Israel at the time of the judges (Judges 17:6) and pretty much any other sin in Scripture—all caused by thinking we knew best.
    • It’s all over the place!
  • Is relativism always bad?
    • Not exactly. Pope Benedict XVI on World Youth Day: “Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism. It does not liberate man, but takes away his dignity and enslaves him.”
    • Plenty of situations can be quite relative. Read Matthew 12:1-8, for instance. Jesus did not say that David could eat the temple bread at any time—but that it was fine when his life was in danger.
    • Christianity has historically tended to focus a lot on law and not much on grace—especially when we interacted with other cultures. We tended to insist that they had to conform to Western ways of thinking. Relativism has hopefully taught us a lot in that regard.
  • What’s the biggest problem with relativism? (Other than pride…)
    • As Colson said, there is “nothing to measure your life by.” You have no way of knowing if your life is worthwhile or not. How do we know that what we think success is is actually success?
    • Greg Koukl points on that there isn’t much to keep you from anarchy, like happened in New Orleans. People who are most convinced of relativism and who think that they can decide what is right are people like Timothy McVeigh—who was right in his own eyes till the day he died.
    • Those are reasons a non-Christian might listen to. You can show them the hole in their thinking.
    • And, of course, we know that their is an ultimate Judge far greater than ourselves—Jesus Christ. (John 5:22-29, etc.)


© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle