In John’s gospel, chapter 18 verse 38, an educated and affluent man asks Jesus Christ: What is Truth? Every day, as Christians, we are faced with people at work or in the store or in our own families who have different values that seem to be at odds with the shared beliefs in Christianity. I’m not talking denominational differences within Christianity. We can explore those in another blog. I’m talking about the significant differences between Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, Agnosticism, Atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism or New Age. Christianity through Biblical revelation makes a claim to the truth, one that is logical and reasonable: Jesus Christ is the Son of God and came to save us from our sin.
Whether “religious” or not, every human being has a philosophical way they interpret truth in world; sometimes developed at a young age through church attendance or from the lack of anything spiritual. Sometimes that worldview is developed through the pains and trials of life or sometimes worldviews are developed through perceptions and feelings regarding the world around us. When used to interpret the world around us, post-modern thinkers don’t base their conclusions on logic or reason, but rather on emotion and relative truth. (1) This presents a significant challenge for us as Christians who should approach our worldview with logic, reason, and faith. More often than not, Christians get wrapped up in the idea that nothing outside of Scripture can be true. This is a gross misunderstanding and misapplication of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. (2)
As a strong example, Romans 1:20 says: “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.” (NIV) The Apostle Paul is telling us that we should be using experience, logic, reason, faith, and science to evaluate our worldview. Frankly, I cannot comprehend how Christians can be so quick to ignore or discount the reality of science and truthfully, when we do, we hurt the validity of Scripture because science points to God, not away from Him.
Apologetics is a fancy word for the practice of defending someone’s belief or worldview usually in a religious or faith-based context. For Christians, this idea is derived from 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV) There are men and women who devote their lives to the practice of Apologetics like Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Frank Turek, and Dr. Douglas Groothius (grew-ties). Apologetics focuses mainly on answering the questions surrounding our faith. Sometimes these answers are clearly found in the Biblical texts, not always. Sadly, apologists spend as much time defending Christianity to professed Christians as they do non-believer. All of these men have written many books including one of my favorites I don’t have enough faith to be an Atheist by Dr. Turek. Dr. Zacharias and Dr. Turek both have significant presences on YouTube, and I’d encourage anyone reading this to take a look at their pages! (3)
When discussing worldviews, many people in the world around us will say things like “you live your truth” or “the Bible is your truth” or “don’t force your truth on me” but these statements cannot be true because truth is not relative to the individual claiming the truth. It is not surprising that the idea of truth has been intellectually addressed and is agreed to by secularists and Christians! Christ himself makes a truth claim in John 14:6-7 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (NIV) Simply because someone doesn’t accept this as truth doesn’t mean it’s false. There are plenty of valid but relative claims! I can make the relative but valid claim that BMW makes a better automobile than Honda, but it is not valid to claim BMW and Honda do not make automobiles.
We’ve seen how Jesus addresses the issue in one verse and in the world of philosophy, we have great thinkers such as Aristotle who codified the Laws of Logic. In the world of science, we have laws of physics and other laws that dictate how the world works. Science and philosophy and their associated laws aren’t in contradiction to God’s law. They work in concert with God’s law because HE is in control!
Ravi Zacharias has a 3-4-5 approach to evaluating the truth worldview and Douglas Groothuis outlines a nine-step approach. Groothuis’ process is a bit heady and hard to comprehend in less 500 words, but Ravi puts forward a fantastic and simple system. Truth is by its nature a claim to exclusivity and Zacharias’ method is a great to way evaluate a claim’s possible validity as a truth.
1. Origin: how does the worldview address (or ignore) the questions of origin? Is it purely based on mysticism or mystery or is there empirical evidence? Has the answer stood the test of time? Has it been scrutinized or heavily examined?
2. Meaning: how does the worldview or truth claim address meaning? Can the worldview answer the question: why are humans here? Why were we made? How and when did we begin to think for ourselves and about ourselves? WHEN and HOW did we begin to question our meaning?
3. Morality: how does the worldview address right and wrong? Can the worldview make a claim on what is right or wrong?
4. Destiny: how does the worldview address life outside of or after the current life? Is there any claim to truth about the afterlife?
Zacharias goes on to affirm that no matter the answers to these questions, they must be logically consistent, empirically adequate, and relevant to shared experience.
“When submitted to these tests, the Christian message is utterly unique and meets the demand for truth. God has put enough into this world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing. But He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason alone. Faith and reason must always work together in that plausible blend.” Dr. Ravi Zacharias. (4)
Guest Discerning Dad
1- I wholeheartedly hate using this word because it’s a concept that cannot even exist; either truth is true or its not; the law of non-contradiction.
2- This is one of the pillars of salvation from the protestant reformation collectively known as the Five Solas: Sola Gratia (through Grace alone), Sola Fidae (by faith alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Sola Scriptura (by Scipture alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (to God the Glory).
3- RZIM Ministries and CrossExamined.org
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2 thoughts on “Guest blog- Chad Roche- What is Truth?”
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