hotrodhell

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Can’t we all just get along?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on April 15, 2010 at 9:35 pm

This seems to be the modern-day mantra especially when we challenge those around us about truth claims. This week we will cover 4 major areas that seem to paint Christianity and its truth claims in the corner while we meekly slip out of the room.

(John 8:31-32 ESV)  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  1. So many people disagree relativism must be true,
  2. You’re just using western logic
  3. Who are you to judge others
  4. Christians are intolerant of other viewpoints

So many people disagree relativism must be true, because sometimes truth can be elusive in some areas of our life we can fall victim to “true for you but not for me”. Sometimes it’s much easier to coalesce because of disagreements on so many things we lose sight of the truth. Other times truth is very difficult to discern and hold so we give up, and give in. Especially in the post modernistic area of political correctness (cultural Marxism) vital areas like religion, morality, politics and philosophy can cause us to think we are being rash rude or even arrogant if we say someone is wrong. Supposedly to avoid conflict or to be seen as sensible we conclude relativism must be true. After all life can’t be black and white it is gray! We are as Christians to be salt and light in an otherwise dark and flavorless world that wants to go along to get along. Somehow, people move from what is the case (the descriptive) to what they think should be the case (the prescriptive). We have made science the modern-day absolute authority supposedly because it can describe what is based on some methodology of facts versus the slippery person-relative, subjective, unprovable “values” of morality, religion, and philosophy.

One of the modern areas that cause disagreement is underlying philosophical assumptions. When we try to include every view-point from every person and allow that are views are true we offer a prescription for failure. These views range from a paneverythingism (New Age) to a Wiccan view many gods, divinity is as much within you as without. There is no such thing as sin; we need to be more tolerant of other views except those that are morally absolute. The world wants enlightenment not redemption. From the Christian worldview we acknowledge sin and its consequent separation from a personal God who is there as the source of the human condition. We need more than being illumined; we need forgiveness! The-true-for-some-but-not-for-others line is an intellectual cop-out, a refusal to go beyond superficial thought. Truth or falsehood doesn’t mean anything to the relativist reality is what we decide it is. Relativism turns out to be a shallow refusal to think hard about things. The Bible speaks very plainly to us:

(2Co 13:5-8 ESV)  Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong–not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.

You’re just using western logic is an argument that really started taking shape in the 60’s due to the eastern mysticism influence of the hippie culture. One of several counter-culture writers was Alan Watts (1915-1973) raised Anglican and renounced his faith to a form of Zen Buddhism. To justify his choice Watts proposed that logic cannot “bind” or govern reality. True knowledge according to Watts, which cannot be explained or described, is nonrational. Another influential figure for relativism is Wilfred Cantrell Smith (1916-2000) claimed that “in all ultimate matters, truth lies not in an either-or (either this is true or its not) but in a both-and (both concepts can be correct and wrong at the same time). Watts dismissed the “rationality of Christianity” as useless “Western logic”. To make such a bold assertive assumption is to use the very logic he repudiated.

The rejection of moral and basic logical laws, results in one huge philosophical train wreck. Logic like the moral law wasn’t invented by anyone it was discovered. The moral law was given and it is a part of God’s character it doesn’t stand behind Him. One of the major laws of logic the law of non-contradiction (A is not non-A”): a statement and its opposite can’t both be true in the same manner or relationship. “There is no truth” (A) stands opposed to “It’s true there is no truth” (non A). The law of he excluded middle (either something is A or non A) or just because 1 thing has 2 things in common it doesn’t have everything in common. Christianity and Buddhism can’t both be true just because they are religions. This is the very reason there can’t be many paths to God because while Buddhism is a religion there is no God. This illustrates the law of excluded middle. The pluralist’s idea that all paths lead to God can’t be taken seriously because of the radically different understandings about God. The divinity of Jesus is blasphemous to the Muslim, seen to be ascribing a partner to Allah. Christianity is fundamentally false if Jesus’ body rotted in a grave; the Hindu though, stresses that Jesus’ teachings are true whether or not he rose from the dead.

We also deal with those who attack the language and the basis for communication. People like John Paul Sartre who made such claims that if we destroy the language we destroy God. The fact is we can’t function as language users and communicators without accepting some underlying logic to make distinctions. Even these skeptics must assume two things: (1) their minds are working well, and (2) logical laws are inescapable and undeniable. Just as disorder presupposes order, blindness presupposes sight, error presupposes truth’s existence. When the skeptic points out falsehoods, he presumes to speak and know the truth-even if he works from the negative to the positive. (Paul Copan). The Bible has several things to say about truth, we are to:

Get truth: (Pro 23:23 ESV) Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

Love truth: (Zec 8:19 ESV) … Therefore love truth and peace.

Execute judgment with truth: (Zec 8:19 ESV)  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.

The fruit of the Spirit is in truth: (Eph 5:8-9 ESV) for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

The delight of God: (Pro 12:22 ESV) Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Truth is purifying: (1Pe 1:22 ESV) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

Truth abides continually with saints: (2Jn 1:2 ESV) because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Jesus is: (Joh 14:6 ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Have we heard from those around us “who are you to judge others? You know the Bible says we are not judge others…this has become the most often quoted scripture surpassing John 3:16. Really is this the meaning? As we unpack this maybe allowing the Bible to speak for itself is the best place to start.

(Mat 7:1-5 HCSB)  “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Who is Jesus talking too and what is the context and genre of this passage? The first thing to realize Jesus is confronting the Pharisees, they had extremely nasty habit of condemning others based on their perceived goodness of observing the ceremonial laws. Jesus is confronting them for taking the place of God, usurping his prerogative, as if they knew the hearts and states of men. Jesus is not implying that we don’t make any judgments but avoid judgmentalism and puffing up with pride at our supposed moral superiority. A common accusation, however, is that when Christians make any moral judgments they are “judging” or “pontificating about moral values.”  Using Matthew 7:1 is in most cases a manifestation of moral laziness-a refusal to be morally discerning. Jesus calls us to make correct judgments: (Joh 7:24 AMP) Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously. The context of Matthew also speaks of specks and logs the point becomes very obvious to even the most biblically illiterate. If we are helping others especially with moral concerns, we need to examine ourselves first by removing the log in our eye so we can help remove a very small spec in a brother’s eye. We do this by recognizing we too are in need of God’s grace and only in humility can we help at all. By differentiating right moral judgments from judgmentalism we might cast a better light on the subject. An inappropriate sense of moral superiority over another for any reason, including that person’s moral failures could be used as a definition of judgmentalism. If we are truly saved by His unmerited favor there is no place for superiority or arrogance toward others. It seems a curious assumption the relativist consider those who hold to absolute truth are absolutely arrogant. There is no intrinsic contradiction between (A) holding firmly to convictions and (B) treating with love and dignity those who disagree; living harmoniously with people who hold radically different views is a hallmark of maturity. Martin Marty a noted observer of religion stated the problem of modernity is that the people “who are being civil often lack the strong convictions, and the people who have the strong convictions often lack the civility.” Unfortunately many professing Christians seem to believe that firmness of conviction entitles them to belligerence, hostility, and closed mindedness-not to mention a lack of intellectual responsibility. On the other hand behind a mask of supposed sensitivity and compassion can hide a moral spinelessness. I would suggest that civility then is the remedy for arrogance and conviction the correction for lack of courage. We know now why the relativist should get upset after al his view is “true for him but not for others. He thinks he is right and others are wrong; he’s convinced he processes a virtue that others lack. (Paul Copan)

The world has accused Christians of being intolerant of other viewpoints and unfortunately intolerance has been associated with religion. From the crusades being justified on Luke’s use of compel them to come in (Luke 14:23 KJV) this misuse and abuse of scripture was used to justify a conquest theology. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and other abuses certainly are a blot on Christendom’s history. It’s true there is a lot of intolerance and violence on the religious landscape today. What about secular ideologies that pose a major threat to tolerance? Atheistic communism alone has in the modern era resulted in the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Soviet revolutions and other such atrocities accounting for millions of deaths. It has been said don’t judge a theology on its abuses bit on its truth claims. How do we promote genuine tolerance not the current abuse of the term being batted about in society today? Actually tolerance implies a close relationship to truth. Contrary to pop culture “putting up with error” not “accepting all views” is the proper meaning of tolerance. By definition we tolerate what we don’t approve of or what we believe to be false. Tolerance does not celebrate or embrace or accept as legitimate all perspectives. Actually we exercise some degree of restraint toward those who think differently. The Christian is not obligated to consider all religious views as equal.

We begin not by assuming all is alike in faith but by regarding the equality of persons sometimes called the Imago Dei. Christians can interact with others of differing faiths and learn from them while still believing on rational grounds that they are mistaken on core beliefs. True tolerance grant people the right to dissent. This allows Christians the ability to interact with the relativist while still holding to absolute truth. One of relativisms ironies is that it exalts a phony view of tolerance to absolute status. A belief is “true for you” as long as it doesn’t interfere with what’s “true for me.” Tolerance exercised in the church should never allow sin to be overlooked we can’t condone what God disapproves. The relativist would have certain “absolutes” just as long as you’re tolerant…as long as you don’t hurt anyone…or so long as it’s between two consenting adults the result everything is relative. Despite the relativist claim to a moral superiority they are actually conviction less and really a menace to society. With the lack of moral absolutes the real morality is exposed making personal power-grabbing and end in itself. Without truth the only game left is power.  Our response as believers and followers of Jesus Christ to live out our convictions, be willing to be trite, and be the brunt of accusations about the truth that as they are we once were and with the grace of God they can be as we are…redeemed.

(Rom 5:2-5 ESV)  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Truth Absolutely Relative I Think

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sunday School, Trinity on April 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Overcoming Objections to our Faith

Absolutely Relative

  • Christianity is true for you, but not for me
  • That’s just your perspective
  • Who are you to judge that person
  • You can’t legislate morality
  • You can do whatever you want just as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody
  • Christianity is just one path among many to God
  • Belief in Jesus as the only way to God is totally intolerant

 

(Job 34:12 ESV)  Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.

(Psa 5:9 ESV)  For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

Cultural relativism is the latter sort of openness. Primary education has dedicated itself to showing that this relativism is necessary for openness. However, “the point is not correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right all.”  

“There is one thing a professor can be sure of almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative”  (Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind)

Relativism is knowledge –denying claim: that truth claims are really just opinions or culturally shaped perspectives. Many of these and other maxims tend to be conversation stoppers; we can actually turn them into opportunities to connect with those who typically use them to put off discussing vitally important spiritual issues. With patience, practice, prayer, and God’s grace, believers can offer thoughtful responses to faith –challenges. We as believers can engage a culture that has accepted these aphorisms as truth for their lives, and clearly point out the fallacy while presenting the truth of God’s word.

(Psa 25:5 ESV)  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

To quote the author of “True for you But not For Me” Paul Copan will use a progressive theme to interconnect our responses following these questions:

  1. Do truth and morality exist or are these matters of opinion/ perspective?
  2. If there is truth, can we say that one particular religion offers saving truth? Are all faiths equally able to save or liberate us?
  3. If one faith can be savingly true in contrast to the others, do the unique claims of Jesus point to the way of salvation?
  4. If Jesus is the only way of salvation, what about those who have never heard of the gospel?

Much of relativism and pluralism is in fact absolute or exclusive. After all, the relativist believes absolutists are wrong, the religious pluralist believes the exclusivist views of Christianity are wrong. Something of interest has developed in this line of thinking the relativists believe they are “tolerant and “broad minded” against those who claim the truth about God and the meaning of life. God created us to be truth –seekers and truth finders- not truth deniers we can’t escape the deep seated desire God implanted in us. People want to be in charge of their own lives, the philosopher John Searle offers his opinion for the deeper reason of relativisms appeal:”it satisfies a basic urge to power. It just seems too revolting, somehow, that we should have to be at the mercy of the “real world”. If you read the fall of man in Genesis we see where the seed of pride and rebellion was first planted. We have an opportunity to contrast God’s desire and blessing versus our desire to turn relationships, material resources, and sex into ultimate things and an end unto themselves. Once we have positioned them in this light then they become obsessions and lead to resentment, envy, and worry. The Bible describes this as idolatry.

(Deu 4:40 HCSB)  Keep His statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”

(Deu 6:24 HCSB)  The LORD commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the LORD our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today.

 (Deu 10:13 ESV)  and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?

(Psa 119:43 ESV)  And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.

(Psa 119:160 ESV)  The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

 The law has two faces if you are being condemned by the law it can be a burdensome taskmaster, exposing our disobedience and rejection of God’s sovereignty and the price that it brings not only in this life but the life too come. Christians are perceived as hypocritical and judgmental, too focused on getting converts rather hateful towards homosexuals, sheltered, simplistic, overly political, and negative. Believers frequently have a reputation of being holier than thou, rather than one of winsomeness and grace. As a foundational evidence of faith living authentic lives and the building of genuine relationships will help to reveal the beauty of a Christ-centered, well lived life even as it exposes the hollowness of living against God rather than for him. We as believers should be real in acknowledging our limitations and our finitude, remembering that wretches like you and me have only been saved by His amazing grace.

(Joh 13:35 ESV)  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As believers given the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 ESV Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

This is not some arbitrary request  if we have time and we feel like it we should kinda sorta you know talk about religion.  The imperative is go the command is make..in the going and making we need a strategic plan. Given the plight of our society today we have to pre evangelize before we can evangelize. This would take a form something like this:

  1. Pre evangelize help people to see their type of thinking
  2. Truth level: Truth is inescapable  
  3. Worldview level: Theism offers clearer answers than naturalism or pantheism/monism.
  4. Theistic level: Christianity is more plausible than Judaism or Islam.

 

Step one exposes where people are in their thinking and thought process. Most likely today either in the church or the world we need to establish a clear definition of truth.

Encarta defines truth as correspondence to fact or reality.

Webster defines Truth, n. 1. Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies. Recapping these meanings we have a belief, a description, or story that matches up with the way things really are.

(Psa 25:5 ESV)  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Based on the list below do we take truth for granted? Do we embrace certain views-presumably because we think they’re true-and we reject others? Because there are differing perspectives doesn’t keep us from knowing the truth as it really is.  

  1. Despite our biases and limitations, objectivity is possible. That is, lots of things are true, regardless of our perspective.
  2. Something can be true even if no one knows it.
  3. Something can be true even if no one admits it.
  4. Something can be true even if no one agrees what it is.
  5. Something can be true even if no one follows it.
  6. Something can be true even if no one but God grasps it fully.

 

We serve a God of hope and some of our best opportunities for sharing the Gospel come in times of despair, moral decline and an ever changing society. If we keep our proper citizenship not of this world but of the Kingdom we can be salt and light in a spiritually flavorless and darkened culture. Our culture war between truth and relativism isn’t new. The belief that universal objective truth does not exist (alethic Skepticism relating to the philosophical concepts of truth and possibility and especially to the branch of logic that formalizes them) or cannot be known (epistemological skepticism the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, in particular its foundations, scope, and validity) can be seen in the sophist Protagoras. In 500 BC he maintained that the human community is the standard of truth. Plato cited him as saying “Man is the measure of all things” As such any given thing “is to me as it appears to me, and is to you such as it appears to you.” This sounds very familiar in our culture today. Relativism is a knowledge denying enterprise.

Objective relativism tells us no truth is universally, objectively true or false. My truth and your truth can conflict and still be valid.

Religious relativism holds that one religion can be true for one person or culture while untrue for another. Who is to say one person’s perspective on God or salvation is preferable to another’s? The argument holds that no single religious belief can be universally or objectively true.

Moral relativism rejects any abiding moral values for all, maintaining that there is no objective ethical right and wrong and that morality is an individual or cultural matter, none more binding than the other. So nothing morally exists by which we can praise some and condemn others.

Art and beauty, aesthetic relativism assumes that one person’s trash might be another person’s art- the standard for art each one holds are equally valid. Jacques Barsun (b1907) argued in From Dawn to Decadence , human creative energies have turned from the fixed realities of the created and moral order, first to frivolity and then to self-destruction. Postmodern artists shun such standards as technical excellence, creativity, and the capturing of universal truths and enduring human experience.

If this is the definition of relativism what are its implications?  

(Isa 59:12-14 ESV)  For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the LORD, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.

(Jer 9:2-6 ESV)  Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men.  They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the LORD.  Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.

From the religious perspective persuasion is prohibited. Trying to tell the good news about Jesus to people gets some upset. Our belief implies that our news is true and people should change their present way of life. To be exclusivist is to be arrogant. With so many religions claiming to know something others don’t is wrongheaded and erroneous. In one sense the world has a good reason to be critical of us when we claim loudly that other views contain no truth at all. All truth is God’s truth, just because a Hindu believes he should love his wife and stay faithful doesn’t make the truth of monogamy invalid because he learned it from the Vedas. Moral truths are found outside the Bible in mathematics, history, and science. When we as Christians discerningly affirm and learn from non-Christians when they rightly appropriate God’s general revelation even we disagree with their view of God and His redemptive offer. Tolerance is a cardinal value posited by the relativist when it means being open to all ideas towards those who agree with their arguments. When disputes over truth arise it can seem like a war, because without the possibility of truth, power rules the day. Nietzsche (1844-1900) wrote that “God is dead” the standard for truth and morality and this will usher in the age of nihilism, the rejection of all objective meaning and value. All that is left is will to power, by which only the fittest survive. Truth is manipulated by those in charge. Hitler was a major follower of this philosophy. The critique of “tolerance” the doctrine from relativism in its current understanding will reveal just how incoherent and self-contradictory a philosophy it is. The dogmatic follower of the new “tolerance” is actually more dogmatic than most in the Christian faith they criticize a faith that actually serves as the basis for true tolerance, respect, and compassion.

(Tit 1:12 ESV)  One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

We see in the scriptures Paul is helping young Timothy by quoting Epimenidies (6th century BC) by showing the fallacy of a Cretan calling all Cretans liars can he really be trusted. In his statement Epimenidies tells the truth about himself calling himself a lair saying that someone’s truth is some else’s falsehood and contradicts itself by claiming nothing is true. This folds into relativism and we see the battle has been with us from the very beginning of the church. The selectivity of the relative position works for them like fixed facts that don’t really affect one’s life gravity, rain, etc. But when we deal in areas that are personal like the existence of God, a moral standard and so on all of a sudden facts are relative. All of us implicitly trust that certain things are true. We will deal with the other steps in future lessons.

(Dan 9:13 ESV)  As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.

(Joh 1:17 ESV)  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

(Joh 14:6 ESV)  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

%d bloggers like this: