By Not Known
People have long wondered whether there are things that are real, true and right for everyone, everywhere at all times.
Some doubt this. They hold that nothing is real, right and true in itself. Consider these phrases: ‘this is right for me‘, or ‘this is true for you‘ or again ‘that’s your reality‘. This view is relativism. In extreme forms it divides the world into a myriad of smaller universes which are parallel to one another but which rarely intersect.
Relativism can have individual or group forms. Thus, we might see all the world’s cultures as independent kingdoms with their own realities, truths and moralities. If this is so, we cannot evaluate any culture from outside itself. For example, we can’t say that it is wrong to enslave young children, if the relevant culture holds to child slavery. These sad examples can be multiplied many times over.
Such views make religion a purely individual or group affair. In this, we or our group form our own ideas and express them in religious faith and practise. This is a modern echo of the tribalism and localisation found in some faiths of Bible times. Thus, there was the god of this place and this people and when you were with those people you worshipped their way. There was no universal sense of God.
This is not the God of the Christian faith or Scriptures. We believe in God who created the heavens and the earth and who is present and Lord everywhere. This is strongly expressed in Psalm 97. For example, Ps 97: 1,4,5,6 all make references to God ‘s universality over earth, the heavens and all peoples. The same universality applies in salvation. God has no favourites or cultural bias (Acts 1O: 34). All can be saved but all must follow the same path of faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16).
Thus God,and the gospel of Jesus are universals. God is God and his gospel is the gospel everywhere, for everyone and at every time. We certainly express and apply the gospel in different ways in different cultures and times, but it is the same gospel. Put another way, God is ‘over‘ and ‘in‘ culture but not beneath it.
The universality of God and the gospel underwrites the universality of reality, truth and morality. Does it ‘all depend‘? ‘Yes‘, but it all depends on God. What he made is real, what he says is true and what he calls right is right.