5. Relativism Denies Revelation

Have you ever heard of the term revelation? Revelation simply means that God has revealed himself to humanity in a specific way. Relativism implicitly denies the concept that God could have revealed himself in a specific way. Let’s consider a common relativist illustration that denies the notion of revelation.

The Blind men and the Elephant

Four blindfolded men walk into a room with an elephant. One of the men grabs the tail of the elephant and says, “I know what we’re feeling. It’s a long and slender snake.”

The second blindfolded man walks up to the elephant, and he grabs the ears. He says, “A snake? Are you crazy? We’re feeling a bat with long, floppy wings.”

The third man walks up to the elephant, and he grabs one of the elephant’s legs. He says, “A snake? A bat? You guys are a couple of idiots! Clearly, we’re all feeling a tree trunk with rough bark.”

Finally, the fourth man gropes blindly against the walls of the room, and he says, “You guys are all nuts! I don’t feel anything. We’re all alone in here!”

To the relativist, this describes all of the world’s religions. They blindly bicker with one another, but they are all trying to describe the same thing –just from different perspectives. While this might surprise you, I actually find this to be an excellent illustration for Christianity –not relativism –for a number of reasons.

First, this illustration doesn’t prove that all religions are TRUE; it proves that all religions are FALSE. Put another way, this illustration does not demonstrate that all of the blind men are right; it illustrates that all of the blind men are wrong. Agnostic philosopher Bertrand Russell observes this, when he writes, “It is evident as a matter of logic that, since [the great world religions] disagree, not more than one of them can be true.”[1] He’s right. Logically speaking, either all religions on Earth are false, or one of them is true.

Second, this illustration demonstrates our need for revelation. Ask yourself: “Who is the narrator in this story?” Clearly, he is a person in the room with the other blind men. But, what is the difference between the narrator and the blind men? He isn’t blind! While the other men are groping around in the dark, wildly speculating about the elephant in the room, the narrator can see everything clearly. In the same way, if we are to truly know about God, then he needs to take off our “blindfold.” That is, he needs to reveal himself to us.

Third, this illustration shows how important it is to talk to others about spiritual truth. Imagine being the narrator in this story. Wouldn’t it be cruel to leave these men speculating blindly in the dark? Consider tip toeing around the room, trying to be unnoticed, as the men were violently arguing with each other.

Fourth, this illustration shows that relativism is hypocritical. Relativism claims that no one has the truth about God –no one has their “blindfold” taken off. And yet, this story is told by the relativist, who supposedly isn’t wearing a blindfold! If they were being consistent, they should tell the story about five blindfolded men in a room, who never find out what they’re feeling. But instead, relativism claims to have the very thing that it denies: knowledge of God. While Christians claim to have knowledge about who God is, at least they are being honest and straightforward about this, instead of trying to hide it, as relativists often do.

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[1] Russell, Bertrand, and Paul Edwards. Why I Am Not a Christian: and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967. 11.