Beneath that flipping $billion fraud furore
It was only less than a week ago that a friend pinched me, by phone, with a little ‘prips’ about the saga that has set most tongues a wagging in Jamaica. I had neither heard nor seen anything about it.
Guilty as charged, I should read our newspapers and tune into Jamaica radio online.
And yet, if I had I would still say that almost all of those who waxed warm in criticism of the persons behind the fraud should have kept their flapping mouths shut!
Why? Apart from it being on our books as a crime, what’s so wrong with major or minor fraud based on the ethical principle to which most of us subscribe, and on which we live?
On New Year’s Sunday, as guest preacher at a Baptist church in South Florida, my topic was ‘Ethics and me in 2023’ and I highlighted the dilemma of determining right from wrong in our modern world that has been messed up by a movement away from biblical values towards relativism. What’s that?
Relativism is the view that ‘since there is nothing that is always right or wrong, everything depends on the situation or circumstance surrounding an act and its associated motive, etc’.
That, on the surface, seems delightful to live on but is difficult to live with. If relativism is defensible ethically for me to live on, I would need to allow everyone else that luxury, even to my detriment. That’s the awful rub!
Though glibly spouted by even religious and non-religious thinkers, relativism has grave defects (fatal flaws) that most do not appreciate, as pointed out by Christian philosophers Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl in their mischievously titled book, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair.
There are seven fatal flaws of relativism identified by Beckwith and Koukl in the work. Here they are, as tweaked by me.
1. RELATIVISTS CAN’T ACCUSE OTHERS OF WRONGDOING
If there is no objective wrong or right (absolutes), then moral outrage at whatever (Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, or sex for promotion) is no more than a personal opinion.
2. RELATIVISTS CAN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF EVIL RE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Without objective evil the argument fails. Concede objective evil and objective good, as a standard, is pulled in.
3. RELATIVISTS CAN’T DEFENSIBLY PLACE BLAME OR ACCEPT PRAISE
Without absolutes, nothing is ultimately praiseworthy or blameworthy. Relativists studiously avoid blame but swallow praise without comment, but on what logical basis?
4. RELATIVISTS CAN’T MAKE CHARGES OF UNFAIRNESS OR INJUSTICE
Both concepts make sense only on the existence of objective standards of fairness and justice.
5. RELATIVISTS CAN’T IMPROVE THEIR MORALITY
If there is no better way, there can be no improvement, or even the moral impulse to improve. Morals may change, but not improve.
6. RELATIVISTS CAN’T HOLD MEANINGFUL MORAL DISCUSSIONS
Silence on moral issues would be the most consistent option for relativists. Even the minimalist statement ‘You can’t push your morality on me’ is not allowed because it qualifies as a moral rule.
7. RELATIVISTS CAN’T EVEN PROMOTE THE OBLIGATION OF TOLERANCE
Tolerance, properly understood, is putting up with what you disagree with. But on what basis is there genuine disagreement if there are no objective standards of the right and the true?
So then, let there be silence from all relativists about the mega fraud and let religious absolutists speak carefully, knowing that though absolutism is delightful to live with, it is extremely difficult to live on consistently, no matter how blood-washed, Spirit-filled or tongues-speaking you claim to be.
Allow the agents of the law to continue their work, and pray for those who may be charged with the crime.
Rev Clinton Chisholm is a retired Jamaica Baptist Union pastor, holds an MA in biblical languages from Sheffield University in England, and was a teaching assistant in Hebrew in the university’s Biblical Studies Department. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.