hotrodhell

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.

 

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