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The Cross - The Absolute # 29

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Creating a Sober World

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     “The use of the absolutes was for Buchman an expression of Christ's standards and, as was so often with him, a practical decision. He was interested, above all, in what he called 'the how’ — the way in which the life of faith, at its most demanding, could be grasped by the beginner as well as by the long-time believer. The standards were something anyone, “however simple or scholarly, could use to measure his life, and the addition of the prefix ‘absolute’, while setting an aim which no one could attain, had two obvious advantages. It stopped the honest seeker from letting himself off with a second or third best, or with the relativism which adjusts to the standards of the society around him; and it set so high a goal that anyone attempting to live by these standards would constantly be turned back to God for forgiveness, grace and strength. Buchman gained, through the years, an overwhelming sense that ‘Christianity has a moral backbone’ - that spirituality cannot be divorced from the highest moral imperatives and survive.   Of course, he was going against the current of the rising tide of moral relativism that was beginning to break over Western society and which would only increase in the aftermath of World War I.

     William Hocking was to later observe, ‘It is a mark of the shallowness of Western life that it should be thought a conceit to recognize an absolute and humility to consider all standards relative, when it is precisely the opposite. It is only the absolute* which rebukes our pride.

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