Apparently, Pope Francis recently said this: "We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts and hopes...Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute."
At a first, superficial glance this attitude to dialogue with an unbelieving world may seem commendably humble and open, but it is actually incredibly wrong-headed and it leads Christians down an intellectual and spiritual cul-de-sac.
Firstly, for the Christian "one's own ideas" are not one's own, but are derived from Divine revelation and expressed in commonly held creeds and confessions (there are, of course, real doctrinal differences between the churches, but that fact should not lead us to overlook the amount of common ground in Christian doctrine).
As for "traditions" (to be distinguished from customs) I always understood that for Roman Catholics the repository of Tradition was also a part of the Divine revelation (?).
And by the way, what have "ideas" to do with the Christian Faith anyway? Christianity is not a religion of "ideas", it is a religion of facts. Heaven help the preacher who ascends to the pulpit to proclaim "ideas"! Hungry, desperate souls want facts and life!
Secondly, if our "ideas" are not valid then they are invalid; if they are not absolute then they are relative. Do Jesuits (the Pope is a member of this RC religious order, which was the spearhead of the Counter-Reformation), who once prided themselves on their rigorous philosophical training, no longer believe in the law of non-contradiction? (I have often been told by traditional Roman Catholics that the Jesuits are not what they used to be - the rot set in during the cultural revolution of the 1960s; now it seems the rot has risen to the very top of the RC church in the form of the Pope's woolly thinking.) What Christian worth his salt would suggest that the Christian doctrines of the Trinity, Christology, original sin, redemption and sanctification - the doctrines every neophyte must be taught - are not valid or absolute? Christianity is a doctrinal religion; without doctrine it is mere sentiment which does not deserve the respect or interest of the doubting yet hopeful "men and women of today".
To be sure, fruitful dialogue does involve seeing the other's point of view, not to cede it validity when it differs from "one's own" considered beliefs however, but to discern where the other has gone wrong that we may know how to correct him. That is true humility and openness which lets God be God and seeks the ultimate good of the other - that he too may be renewed in his mind and put on a new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23). Relativism is not the path to the spiritual renewal of the West.
Is this yet another case of the Pope speaking without first thinking through the implications of his thoughts?
Or is he really the post-modern Pope?
I can understand why traditional Roman Catholics are very disappointed with this Pope.
Why, even as a confessional Lutheran I'm disappointed in him!