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Defending Your Faith 101: Truth vs. Preference

The Importance of Truth and Worldview

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” John 18:37-38

You get the impression there was a sarcastic tone in PiIate’s question here, and it is interesting to note that “the truth” was standing right in front of him! Pilate was questioning truth just like many people do today. With so many competing philosophies about life, how can we know truth about anything?

What is truth?

  1. Truth is that which corresponds to reality

The correspondence theory of truth…

  • truth corresponds to its object
  • truth is an actual state of affairs
  • truth is the way things really are
  1. Truth is not relative but absolute
  • truth is true for all people, at all times, in all places
  • truth is transcultural
  • truth is absolute, narrow, and exclusive
  1. Truth is discovered, not invented
  • truth exists independent of anyone’s knowledge of it
  • truth is unchanging even though our beliefs or attitudes about it might change
  • truth matches reality

Definition of Absolute Truth:  Something true For ALL people, in ALL places, and at ALL times

Check out this 2 minute clip on Absolute Truth:


What about truth in morality or religion?

Preference is what people really mean when they discuss the topic of truth in morality or religion. A preference would be something like ice cream flavors, or colors. You prefer that faith I prefer this one, or none at all, and that is what people are really thinking. What is true (my preference) for me may not be true for you, but Jesus is not teaching us preferences he is teaching us truths.

Culture looks at truth in two ways:

Subjective (preference) claims vs. objective (truth) claims

A subjective claim, or preference, is about the person making the claim, for example: Chocolate ice cream is the best flavor, or turquoise is the prettiest color. These are opinions of an individual person.

Imagine someone makes this claim: Turquoise is the prettiest color in the world, and you are going to hell if you don’t believe that turquoise is the prettiest color!  We would think that person was crazy, but this is often how people see the claims of Christianity in our culture today.

In contrast, objective claims are truth claims. They are about an object or event, for example: Insulin is a medicine that controls diabetes; The 5 freeway south in California ends at the Mexico border; Barak Obama was the 44th president of the United States; or, The United States celebrates the 4th of July every year.

Objective truth claims are not subjective (preferences) but are true for everyone, everywhere, at all times. This is the type of claim Christians are making when we say Jesus is the ‘only way’ because he died for our sins (everyone’s) and resurrected in defeat of death, and the Bible is the Word of God. This is the type of claim that Christians are dying for around the world.

What truth is not:

  1. Truth is not defined by how you feel or how sincere you are:
  • Feelings change
  • People have different feelings and differing opinions at different times about everything
  • People can be sincerely wrong
  1. Truth is not determined by what works:
  • Just because you can get away with it does not make it true
  • Just because it produces results that you want does not make it true
  • Lies can be very useful (Satan is the father of lies–Genesis 3; John 8:44)
  1. Truth is not relegated to popular vote:
  • Truth cannot be determined in the polls or voting booths
  • Truth cannot be set by cultural norms
  • Truth cannot change over time

For a more in-depth treatment of this topic watch Greg Koukl’s presentation from the “Thrive Apologetics Conference:”


OBJECTIVE TRUTH CLAIMS ARE NOT DEPENDENT ON WHAT ANYONE BELIEVES, THINKS, OR AGREES ON. OBJECTIVE TRUTH CLAIMS ARE ABOUT REALITY—THE WAY THINGS REALLY ARE.

Take the test: Can you tell the difference between these claims (are they objective or subjective)?

  1. New York is north of Florida.
  2. Blue is the best color for boys.
  3. Teaching is a rewarding career.
  4. Jesus died by crucifixion.
  5. Heart bypass surgery can save your life.
  6. President Lincoln was a Republican.
  7. Jesus lived in the first century AD.
  8. The best fish are caught in Alaska.
  9. Mohammad lived in the seventh century AD.
  10. Jesus is the only way to God the Father, and eternal life.

If you had trouble with the last claim, then try following it to its logical conclusion: If that statement is only true for me and not for everyone then Jesus’s death on the cross was not necessary. He did not need to go through the suffering and sacrifice to atone for humankind’s sins and save us from eternal death and separation from God if there are other ways to God and eternal life. A subjective or relative view of Jesus makes the overarching message of the Bible irrelevant and the works and teachings of Jesus false. The Apostle Paul addressed this in his letter to the Corinthians:

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.  -1 Corinthians 15:9-12-19

Take heart, because what we believe is objectively true! The Apostle Paul, throughout all his letters in the New Testament, boldly proclaims and proves the truth of the Resurrection and fulfilled ministry of Jesus that was prophesied from the beginning of time. The evidence for the Christian faith is overwhelming and we will be looking at this enormous amount of evidence each week, so stay tuned and stay with us!

Reflection:

  1. How did you do identifying the above statements as objective or subjective? Which ones are you not sure of and why?
  2. In your own words, describe the difference between subjective and objective claims. Create your own example for each:
  3. Prayer focus: God’s truth made available to all (Romans 1).

I want to add one more reference by one of the top Christian Apologists of all time, Ravi Zacharias: Take some time to watch his presentation on “Absolute Truth” as he presented it to an audience in Singapore last year:

Please continue to pray for God’s peace and comfort that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7) for Nabeel Qureshi’s family at this time of great earthly loss, and celebrate the great rejoicing in Heaven as he is welcomed home. In God’s will and Jesus’ Name always we pray, Amen.

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You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

1 Peter 3:15

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