Every “Passion Narrative” we have ever heard recalls the intense exchange leading to these words by Jesus: “…and for this reason I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Followed immediately by Pontius Pilate’s stark reply, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38).
“What is truth?” … this rootless relativism (a short teaching on relativism here) is the next problem Fr. Dubay confronts as we look at Christ’s call to Gospel poverty: “Many today will respond to conflicting theories of evangelical poverty by remarking that ‘your position is suitable for you and mine is suitable for me. God reads our hearts; he does not ask that we be scholars. You go your way, and I will go mine.’ My first comment on this view is that it is light years removed from the attitudes of Jesus and Saint Paul and the rest of the New Testament writers. While there is room for some differences in concrete applications, the Gospel doctrine is clear and specific” (p. 27, HAYP).
It is here that Fr. Dubay marks a very important disinction between contradictory diversity and complimentary diversity. “A complimentary diversity can be good, for in this case different people may be offering insights that complete and enrich one another. They may all be correct. A contradictory diversity is damaging; it can be a disaster. Why? The logician points out that in a contradiction (in which one affirms and another denies exactly what has been affirmed and in the same sense) there is no mutual enrichment. One must be right, and one must be wrong. Which is to say that one must be out of touch with reality. If the reality is important, the result of being out of touch can be a catastrophe. Contradictory opinions, therefore, about social justice, evangelical poverty, sexual morality, and so on are not all equally valid. To hold otherwise is to hold a rootless relativism. It is to be either non- or anti-intellectual, for one operates not on the basis of objective evidences but on no basis at all other than one’s desires and emotions and will” (p. 27, HAYP).
Now, in the context of this discussion, it is worth looking at the words of Jesus: “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” When we sin, we lose our transparency and our childlike openness to the world and God. Temptation gradually isolates us from God, our loving Father, and weakens us until we believe in a distorted image of God, that the enemy wants to give us. Sin introduces self-consciousness and fear into the human experience. Removing ourselves from the presence of God brought about a disintegration of the primary relationships we have. First of all with God – from whom we are still hiding – with others and with ourselves. The truth is, we are alienated from our true selves as long as we listen to any other voice than God.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In later posts we will see the many non-contradicting ways Jesus reveals his truth to us, understanding he did not commit his message to private persons but to a community, the ekklesia (Church).