“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.” -Émile Zola, (1840-1902) French Novelist
Does truth matter in your worldview or are you OK with relativism?
Christianity makes absolute truth claims about God, Jesus and the Bible but that view is often met with disdain in our culture today. Many people will say that we cannot know truth and that truth is relative. They might say, ‘your truth is not my truth.’ So how should we respond?
In his book “Relativism” Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason) says, “Today we’ve lost the confidence that statements of facts can ever be anything more than opinion. The word true now means “true for me” and nothing more. The death of truth in our society has created a moral decay. When we abandon the idea that one set of laws applies to every human being, all that remains is subjective, personal opinion.”
Relativism: The claim that ‘absolute truth cannot be known.’
But, isn’t that a truth statement in itself? Is the worldview of relativism the only one that’s true? This is self-defeating because they are making a truth claim by saying that there is no truth!
If you look closely at the following statements they all become self-defeating (A rejoinder in bold):
• Your truth is not my truth. Is that true?
• There are no absolutes. Are you absolutely sure?
• There’s no such thing as right or wrong. Is that a right or a wrong statement?
• You ought not judge. Is that a judgment?
• You are so intolerant with your Christian view. Are you being intolerant of my view?
Paul Copan in his book “True For You But Not For Me” does an excellent job of giving insights and tools that we can use when we come across people who hold a relativistic view of life.
False ideas about truth lead to false ideas about life.
We demand truth in almost every area of our lives. We want the truth from our doctors, our bankers, our mechanics and family members. The laws of nature, science and mathematics all have undeniable and universal truth in the way they operate. So why do we exclude truth from morality and religion?
Let’s take a look at what truth is:
1. Truth corresponds to reality. (best definition)
2. Truth corresponds to its object; it is an actual state of affairs.
3. Truth can be established using the universal self-evident laws of logic.
4. Truth can be discovered with the use of observation, deduction and induction.
5. Truth has always been there whether you know it or not.
6. Truth is absolute; it is true for all people at all times and in all places.
7. Truth is discovered not invented.
8. Truth is unchanging.
9. Truth has nothing to do with beliefs or attitudes.
10. Truth is what you bump into when you realize you are wrong.
Click Sean McDowell to watch a short video clip on truth.
Also click here to go to Sean McDowell’s website for more insights and videos on Christian Apologetics topics.
Are all religions and belief systems relatively true?
If you answer yes, this is known as religious pluralism which promotes tolerance of all religious beliefs as if they are all equally true.
If you answer no, then you are probably characterized as intolerant, yet by using logic we can see that…
- All of the various religions and belief systems are contradictory in foundation—they teach opposite ideas
- Mutually exclusive beliefs and ideas cannot be true at the same time
- Different religions do not agree on the most fundamental questions about God, life and the afterlife.
- Think about the different answers you would get concerning these questions from major belief systems like Christianity and Islam; Eastern Religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism; New Age and Secular beliefs like Naturalism and Humanism:
- Where did I come from?
- What is my purpose?
- What is wrong with the world and is there a solution?
- Who is God?
- Who is Jesus?
- Is the Bible the Word of God?
- Where I am I going when I die?
Can truth about God be known?
God’s truth is absolute and knowable. God has not made it hard for us in fact God has made it plain.
How do we know? 5 ways…
1. God’s Natural revelation
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
2. God’s Special revelation (the Bible)
The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of Our God Stands forever.
…I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.
For your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
2 Peter 1:20-21
3. Jesus’ revelation
after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
…Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
4. The Holy Spirit’s revelation
(Jesus said…) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
(Jesus said…) But when he, the spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
…and it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
1 John 5:6
5. Our Conscious
God has placed a moral code and a sense of eternity in the conscious of all mankind:
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thought either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. Romans 2:14-15
The conclusion: Truth corresponds to reality
We can know truth when we compare worldviews to reality. False worldviews will always fall short and bring about unfavorable consequences. If a worldview is true it will not have any inconsistencies, you will see the results will always match up with reality. Realty is the way things really are. Sin is the separation of the will from reason concerning reality and results in a faulty worldview.
Stay with us over the course of a year and you will learn to be a thoughtful defender of your faith.
Share this information with others who are asking those difficult questions. You will not find this material in a public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research that supports its claim. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads is not allowed in our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in the door!
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Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15