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Postmodern Plural Approach to Religion and Ratzinger’s “Dictatorship of Relativism” Argumentative Essay

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Updated: Dec 22nd, 2019


Postmodernism is a cultural movement that comments on the foundations and assumptions that make up most philosophical postulations especially modernism.

Postmodernism was preceded by modernism, which can be described as a cultural movement that cuts across many different fields by moving away from what can be described as the traditional past of artists and academicians into a new way of life in terms of social, economic, and political aspects of the new modernising world.

Postmodernism therefore comes up with new postulations and views away from modernism. It goes further to claim that everything perceived, expressed, and interpreted by people is influenced by their gender, class, and culture.

Postmodernism plural approach to religion postulates that the knowledge possessed or used by people is partial and situated and that no single interpretation is superior to the other. Post modernism is boundless in nature as compared to modernism.

Relativism on the other hand is a concept that believes that people’s views, for instance religious views, have no absolute truth: they only have a relative subjective value due to their differences in perception and considerations (Pyenson 2011, 390).

With the above highlights on postmodern plural approach to religion and Ratzinger’s “dictatorship of relativism,” the paper confirms that indeed it is true that postmodern and plural approach to religion lead to a dictatorship of relativism.

Dictatorship of Postmodernism and Relativism

Ratzinger’s dictatorship of relativism is a notion that declares everything as uncertain. It centres on people’s ego. In their pursuit to accommodate all groups within their views, relativists try to give all people a chance to air out their views and or stick by them.

This gives groups such as atheists and other religions, which are totally opposite to Christian belief an opportunity to flourish at the expense of the Christianity.

Postmodernism tends to free what is morally wrong to make it right by simply creating a window of escape by saying that what is dictated as binding to others should not be seen as binding to the individual because morality is simply subject to other people’s views, which might as well not be right.

In the Christian belief and practice, a belief is what holds and drives the Christian group together.

Modernists tend to subject everything to some empirical test for it to become real. Therefore, for one to accept that Jesus died for his or her sins, he or she have to prove that it is true and not just a belief. In the first place, to modernists, sin is relative because it is a moral standard coined by one group and then subjected to another group.

With this kind of assumption, sin itself becomes none existent to members of societies thus beating the essence in the first place that Jesus came to die for the sins of humanity. According to the bible, one is not allowed to engage in sex outside marriage.

Mirus (2010) observes, “Modernists take this view from a different point of view by claiming that such a view should be strictly a subscription meant for Christians and not non Christians” (Para. 3).

Concurrent with Ratzinger’s notion, this approach tends to pull away people from Christianity by making them live a life under no obligation to moral standards and morality, which is usually a guide to society.

Postmodern plural approach has led to a dictatorship of relativism by subjecting everybody in the world into thinking in a certain way and accommodating people with entirely opposing views from what people believe.

It has forced the Christian group to subject itself to an open way of thinking that negatively influences Christian beliefs and values that are core foundations to Christianity.

Since the advent of modernism, the west, which was a Christian-dominated and almost all Christian nations by extension for a long time, has declined substantially into atheism and other religions that are far much more flexible in accommodating people and their free will (Mallon 2010, 19).

The dictatorship of relativism happens when society is subjected to a democratic process that allows members of society to vote on issues that will make up the policy that governs them.

At this point, relativism takes the centre stage because it does not compel any one to subscribe to any forms of beliefs that shape up the moral fabric of society. It lets them make a decision that is intuitively inspired and one that satisfies them.

This concept has therefore led to the adoption of policies that were previously viewed to be morally wrong for the society. According to Ratzinger and the Christian teachings, the reality about human beings’ temperament is that life commences at conception.

Groups that believe in liberation have opposed this idea together with legalisation of abortion and which believe it should be otherwise.

Pro-abortion groups are inspired by modernism. They have insulated themselves from the moral obligation that does not permit abortion as a practice besides going ahead to lobby and make it an accepted practice in society, which should rather be accepted than being condemned.

Ratzinger points out that civilisation is a process that dies with age and that there is the need for people to preserve humanity through values that will last (Alford 2011, 307). The values imparted by Christianity for a long time have held the society together by being the foundation of most constitutions of many countries.

Human rights trace its origins and directions from the bible, which is the Christians’ handbook for life. Nevertheless, with this in mind, modernists have brought in their own interpretations that negate the original will of what human rights should be by interpreting it to mean an absolute right to make personal decisions about the right of the unborn child.

Reno (2012) observes, “Postmodernists reject absolute truth by saying that truths are relative and subject to individualistic opinion” (4), which is against the Christian belief that states that God is the source of absolute truth.

By subjecting the truth to relativism, they have rendered the truth to being something that can be manipulated thus turning people away from Christianity, which believes in absolute truth.

Relativism can therefore be viewed as the biggest psychological excuse ever to be used as a cover up for people who fail to seek the truth or people whose conscience does not allow them to face the truth.

By making the truth something that is subject to relativism, society is then compelled through policy formulations to accept facing it. Thus, relativism corrupts the way things should be like in a Christian point of view. Religious relativism on the other hand is devoid of doctrinal content thus eroding real faith.

Modernists are usually upset by facts or morality, which are in fact absolute simply because they take the claims as exclusive and largely judgmental. They therefore resort to adapting to habits that would require them to be answerable to any form of truth in the least sense.

The dictatorship of relativism is evident in the society whereby faith must give way in situations when belief comes in the way or is in conflict with non-faith practices (Gianni 2007, 215).

This claim holds because relativism has gained so much ground in convincing the society that none of it should be subject to other people’s beliefs and that what they think is right should be seen and accepted to be right by others.

In the medical circles, doctors are being forced to perform procedures that their conscience do not allow by a policy that directs that personal conscience should not play a part in public affairs.

According to Ratzinger, Jesus Christ came into the world to show it the ethical way of living and doing things: morals that set all people free from idolatry.

Because relativists believe in self-serving and gratification, they are opposed to this view that sets conditions on anything that gives them pleasure thus making sex a thing for pleasure for anybody who wishes to have it. They have gone ahead to advocate for all forms of sex to be legalised and publicly accepted as ways of life.

This attempt is what has led to the increase in homosexuality being given the same credence as heterosexuality, which has led to an extremely immoral society coming up with the youths being the biggest target due to the confusion that comes with their growth as they try to find the identity.

Postmodernists have the view that faith is opposed to any form of reason and evidence because all religions to them are equal and valid in their beliefs.

Though relativists are always campaigning for a remarkably loose moral fabric of society, Christopher Tollefson and Robert miller argue that not all morals that society should follow have a religious background.

Some moral principles are natural and do not require a belief in God- that is to believe in moral absolutes. This revelation shows that relativists and postmodern proponents have no excuse in society to do anything and everything according to their own will.

There must be some level of standards in terms of morality that the society should be subjected to and or made to stick to with regardless of the relativists’ view. Ratzinger observes that relativism has come in the form of democracy whereby people are not allowed to believe that they know the true way.

This way of thinking has brain washed the society to become one that has a sense of self doubting that whatever it is doing might not be one hundred percent right. In its utmost sense, this notion is confusing for the whole world of humanity because people will always expect to be guided by others due to the seed of self-doubt that is so deeply sown in their senses.

Postmodernists themselves do not provide a solution to this problem though they enjoy by flourishing in confusion, as they are now not required to answer anything, or be in a position to defend themselves.

Ratzinger blames relativism for the moral decadence of society, which has led to an identity crisis into which the West has fallen. He describes this as west threatened by Muslim fanatics, nihilists, as well as animists from Africa.

The extent of damage due to society following realism so religiously will be felt in the future when all laws that bring order will be done away with when the society will become a form of a lawless place. The plural approach to religion has made religion become a theory that somehow exists within the society and not a guiding principle towards life.

Relativists have made the world deny moral truths for the sake of humanity so that the unbelieving world can have its way in whatever it wants to do.

Postmodernists live in the world full of contradictions that they themselves refuse to notice when they state that no one should judge others’ moral convictions and beliefs.

They go ahead to brand anybody who judges their morality as being immoral thus again contradicting their view that no one should judge the other. Here, they continue to judge anybody who judges them. Thus, they forget that their principle does not permit the judgment of others (Rittlemeyer 2012, 43).

However, because it is for their self-serving and satisfaction, they turn a blind eye on themselves hence depicting a perfect form of dictatorship that can be equated to the phrase “preach water and drink wine.”

In doing this, they cleverly box the society into a corner making the society not to touch or try to question issues that are immoral and which should not be allowed to happen.

Postmodern plural approach to religion as viewed by Ratzinger should not be allowed to flourish within the Christian society due to the fundamental difference that comes with the difference in religious beliefs.

Kimbal (2009) observes, “To this, Ratzinger points out that Islam and Christianity make incompatible truth claims (5). It is not easy to make out who between the two religions does speak authoritatively on truth.

Therefore, the assertion that all religious groups should be viewed from the same plate of the plural approach is not acceptable and is not practical.

Though there is the need to accommodate the view of other religions as a way of coexisting in a society that has become socially and culturally a form of montage, there is no compelling reason and or there should not be any compelling reason to force members of different religious groups to have the same belief or approach to religion.

The different approaches to religion give the religious groups their identities. Therefore, it is categorically unacceptable for postmodernists and relativists to prescribe to religious groups or to impose them on how to approach their beliefs and practices when they preach freedom of thought and a liberty from moral obligations.


The contemporary world today has become a mixing pot of some sort. With it has come the need for tolerance towards cultures that are new or different from what people believe. This has led the society to adopting a way of thinking that should be accommodative and suiting to all.

Although it is a good move, it has led to total drainage of morals that used to hold the society together for a long time defining what has characterised the future of the society for a long time.

This school of thinking adopted by postmodernists and relativists is seen as the biggest threat to religion and its fundamental beliefs and practices because of the way it is appealing to the masses against religions’ strict practices thus qualifying as the greatest threat to religions’ existence.


Alford, Fred. “Young People, Relativism and Natural Law.” Good Society Journal 20, no. 2(2011): 303-318.

Gianni, Vattino. “A Dictatorship of Relativism.” Common Knowledge 13, no.1-3 (2007): 214-218.

Kimbal, Roger. “Introduction: The Dictatorship of Relativism.” New Criterion 25, no. 5(2009): 4-8.

Mallon, John. “Conscience and Dictatorship of relativism of the Modern thought which Claims to Set People Free but Actually Enslave.” Inside the Vatican 12, no. 1(2010): 17-23.

Mirus, Jeff. Enslaved by Dictatorship of Relativism. Accessed from

Pyenson, Lewis. “Elements of the Modernist Creed in Henri Pirene and George Sarton.”History & Science 49, no. 7(2011): 377-394.

Reno, Ricardo. “The Public Square: Relativism Moral Mission.” First Things 4, no. 1(2012): 1-7.

Rittlemeyer, Hellen. “Moral Relativism.” American Spectator 45, no. 7(2012): 40-43.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Postmodern Plural Approach to Religion and Ratzinger’s "Dictatorship of Relativism"." December 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/postmodern-plural-approach-to-religion-and-ratzingers-dictatorship-of-relativism/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Postmodern Plural Approach to Religion and Ratzinger’s "Dictatorship of Relativism"'. 22 December.

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