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.


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