Monday, January 04, 2010

Can Truth Survive in a Postmodern Society?


Continuing on with my goal to apply chapter quotes from John MacArthur's book, "The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception," we move forward to Chapter One.

MacArthur's chapter title asks, "Can Truth Survive in a Postmodern Society?"

Excerpt:


Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?"
- John 18:37-38


Considering who stood before him and the gravity of the issues he was being asked to decide, Pilate's attitude was astonishingly dismissive. But he did raise a vital question: What is truth?

Where, after all, does this concept come from, and why is it so basic to all human thought? Every idea we have, every relationship we cultivate, every belief we cherish, every fact we know, every argument we make, every conversation we engage in, and every thought we think presupposes that there is such a thing as "truth." The idea is an essential concept, without which the human mind could not function.

Even if you are one of those trendy thinkers who claims to be skeptical about whether "truth" is really a useful category anymore, to express that opinion you must presume that truth is meaningful on some fundamental level. One of the most basic, universal, and undeniable axioms of all human thought is the absolute necessity of truth. (And we might add that the necessity of absolute truth is its close corollary.)


I just loved how Mr. MacArthur begins this chapter. He utilizes the very words of Jesus Christ himself - who is not only the truth, but also the way and the life. This brings us right to the first bullet point quote which reveals the biblical definition of truth:


Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God.


MacArthur goes on to list dozens of Scripture verses that describes our God of truth. Jesus is the truth incarnate - the perfect expression of God - and therefore the absolute embodiment of all that is true. Jesus also stated the fact that the written Word of God is truth. It is described as pure and unchangeable - that which cannot be broken (see John 10:35).

MacArthur:


Praying to His heavenly Father on behalf of His disciples, Jesus said this: "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Moreover, the Word of God is eternal truth "which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23).


Those who object to the biblical definition of truth find themselves rebelling against it at every turn. How could they not? If someone believes that "truth is relative" and elevates "my (his/her) truth" over the absolute truth as it is revealed in the Bible and in the Person of Jesus Christ, the undisputable evidence reveals deliberate and culpable unbelief.

The explicit revelation of Scripture is the only infallible interpreter of "what is truth!"

MacArthur:


Since Scripture is also the one place where we are given the way of salvation, entrance into the kingdom of God, and an infallible account of Christ, the Bible is the touchstone to which all truth claims should be brought and by which all other truth must finally be measured.


I have spent a lot of time in today's post sharing what MacArthur has written in the beginning of this chapter because it is vitally important to understand not only the biblical definition of truth, but also the inadequacy of all other definitions. This leads us to the next bullet point quote:


The moment you begin to ponder the essence of truth, you are brought face-to-face with the requirement of a universal absolute - the eternal reality of God.


The next quote goes hand in hand with the previous one:


The one most valuable lesson humanity ought to have learned from philosophy is that it is impossible to make sense of truth without acknowledging God as the necessary starting point.


That quote must drive atheists, agnostics, and skeptics crazy!

I think that because of the certainty that most born-again Christians have in their faith - especially when they freely share their faith in Christ with others - it drives non-believers to anger, resentment, persecution against believers, scorn, rejection and even sometimes goes so far as to promote the harm and killing of Christians.

Why?

That's a topic for another discussion. But you may find a hint or two in the following examples I will share.

I have mentioned a discussion between Christian Apologist, Greg Koukl and Deepak Chopra before at this blog, but it bears repeating here. Notice how in my comment back then, I perceived and described Chopra's opinion of faith as "embracing his uncertainty":



This broadcast was absolutely fabulous! Greg Koukl pointed out the fact that people can have differing beliefs regarding faith, but that it is logically impossible for them all to be true at the same time. His trust in Jesus Christ and God's Word stood in direct contrast to Deepak Chopra's, who admitted "embracing his uncertainty." Koukl's view demonstrates a steadfast and true faith where Chopra's view can only lead to theological oblivion.


Now, in the "politically correct" cultural climate of today, along with the "ultra-tolerant" demand that no one claims absolute truth (which includes not embracing anything with certainty so as not to offend anyone), we can see how many non-believers might object to Mr. Koukl's certainty conclusion. At the same time, they may happily embrace Mr. Chopra's "tolerant" choice of uncertainty. Why? Because the position of theological oblivion is more desirable to the skeptic than holding to the truth as revealed through the Person of Jesus Christ.

Not to be redundant, but the truth is, one of these two has to be wrong!

Since Chopra is viewed as being more of a "New Age type Hindu" (labeled by a show commenter), his "uncertainty" is more appealing to postmodernists than someone who holds to certainty in their belief (like Mr. Koukl does) for the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Another example. This morning I received a very timely email from my message board and blogging friend, Sosthenes. His email shares the positive side of what Brit Hume shared on a segment of Fox News Sunday in regards to how Tiger Woods can heal his soul. But of course, those who object to anyone expressing any Christian viewpoint (especially when on national T.V.) dove right in to disparage Hume (see Gateway Pundit: It Has Begun… Libs Attack Brit Hume For Promoting Christianity on Sunday Talk Show ) for sharing such advice.

Sosthenes' email shared the following:




Brit Hume turned evangelist on Fox New Sunday, in a segment with panelists predicting the future for Tiger Woods after Woods' notable "transgressions" (now a 2009 top euphemism, along with "Appalachian Trail," as a signifier for "mistress.")

Hume forecasts Woods will recover as a golfer but

...Whether he can recover as a person depends on "his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, "Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."

This fits with the interview he had with The Hollywood Reporter when Hume retired from Fox News in 2008. Asked what he'd like to do in his free time, Hume said enjoying his family came first but then, he said:


I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I'm not claiming it's impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died (by suicide in 1998), I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it's a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you're not really living it.

Woods got similar advice from A. Larry Ross, minus the slap to Buddhism, in a column recently at Huffington Post. Ross, spokesman for Rev. Billy Graham and Rev. Rick Warren, is a veteran of evangelism talk. It was a column on grace and the God of "second chances."

And Jews have advice, too. Rabbi Irwin Kula told the Jewish Journal that the Nike spokesman -- and the rest of us -- should learn from the patriarchs that you can't "just do it" when "it" is wrong.

Does Tiger Woods have to have a faith -- any faith or just your faith -- to be seen as good again?

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2010/01/fox-news-tiger-woods-brit-hume-forgiveness-evangelical/1


In true predictable form, many of the recent comments at that USA Today article link are negative (as of 9:20 a.m. PT). However, I did find one that was on point:



HisSon (0 friends, send message) wrote: 6m ago
If Buddhism and Christianity had been reversed in Brit's comment, the haters would still have been jumping up and down with joy trying to be the first to criticize Christianity. It doesn't matter any more. There used to be a time when Christianity and Biblical Principles were respected despite one's own personal religion. Now it's just find any reason to disparage Biblical Christianity. Brit was trying to share what has been a help to him. He was trying to be helpful not critical. What's so difficult to understand about that?


MacArthur writes about the great "paradigm shift" that has occurred. The world of human ideas is currently "in a serious state of flux" (to put it mildly!). Today, it is more like chaos! There has been a radical, wholesale overhaul in the way people think about truth itself.

MacArthur:



Unfortunately, instead of acknowledging what truth demands and yielding to the necessity of belief in the God of truth, contemporary Western thought has devised ways to rid human philosophy of any coherent notion of truth altogether. The concept of truth is therefore under heavy attack in the philosophical community, the academic world, and the realm of worldly religion. The way people think about truth is being totally revamped and the vocabulary of human knowledge completely redefined. The goal, clearly, is to usher every notion of truth off into oblivion.


Jesus told us the real reason for every denial of truth: "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

MacArthur:



Here the Lord Jesus says people reject truth (light) for reasons that are fundamentally moral, not intellectual. Truth is clear -- too clear. It reveals and condemns sin. Therefore, "everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (v. 20). Sinners love their sin, so they flee from the light, denying that it even exists.

The war against truth is nothing new, of course. It began in the garden when the serpent said to the woman, "Has God indeed said...?" (Genesis 3:1). A relentless battle has raged ever since -- between truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness, assurance and doubt, belief and skepticism, righteousness and sin. It is a savage spiritual conflict that literally spans all of human history. But the ferocity and irrationality of this present onslaught seems quite unprecedented.


Go read the comments at the USA Today article link. You will see glaring examples of the "war against truth" in all its postmodernist confusion and blame. And, as MacArthur states, the onslaught of "ferocity and irrationality" that skeptics use to discredit biblical Christian faith. Notice that I didn't write "Christian faith." This is because the definition of "Christian faith" has been so skewed by post moderns who may claim to be "Christians," but haven't taken the step to be genuinely born again in Christ (see John 3).

MacArthur:



Postmodernism suggests that if objective truth exists, it cannot be known objectively or with any degree of certainty. That is because (according to postmodernists), the subjectivity of the human mind makes knowledge of objective truth impossible.


What's more:



The postmodernist recoils from absolutes and does not want to concede any truths that might seem axiomatic or self-evident. Instead, truth, is acknowledged at all, becomes something infinitely pliable and ultimately unknowable in any objective sense.


That's a mouthful! Basically, what postmodernists are saying is that they despise truth claims! They are guilty of rejecting truth and embrace skepticism. Recall Deepak Chopra's statement that he is comfortable "embracing his uncertainty?" That is a relativistic statement that pleases those who enshrine skepticism and doubt, but reject absolutes and truth such as the kind that is revealed in the Bible and in the Person of Jesus Christ.

MacArthur:



Uncertainty is the new truth. Doubt and skepticism have been canonized as a form of humility. Right and wrong have been redefined in terms of subjective feelings and personal perspectives.


This paradigm has been taken so far today that there are many who dispute whether anything is "evil." Make a list of all the evils that this far leftist administration's actions have promoted and you will see that this is (unfortunately) very true.

You might ask, why do postmodernists think that way?

MacArthur:



The Emerging Postmodernists have blurred the line between certainty and omniscience. They seem to presume that if we cannot know everything perfectly, we really cannot know anything with any degree of certainty.


MacArthur goes on to say that the ages-old war against truth has moved right into Christian community. This has happened in every major era of church history. That is why the apostle Paul was constantly engaged in battle against the lies of "false apostles [and] deceitful workers [who transformed] themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13).

It is our duty to pass the truth on to the next generation (see 1 Timothy 6:20-21). We are under obligation to join the battle and "contend for the faith which has been forever delivered unto the saints."

Despite the fact that this battle rages all around us today (i.e. radical Islam, atheism/skepticism, false religions, apostate Christianity etc.), there is STILL a lot of reasons for being filled with joy!

MacArthur:



The current climate of postmodernism does represent a wonderful window of opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ. The arrogant rationalism that dominated the modern era is already in its death throes [Note from Christine: more so after what we have endured in America in 2009 than ever before!]. Most of the world is caught up in disillusionment and confusion. People are unsure about virtually everything and do not know where to turn for truth.


Jude certainly understood this! He urges believers to earnestly contend for the faith against all falsehood, going so far as to encourage us to do everything possible to deliver souls from destruction: "pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 23).

MacArthur:



So we are ambassador-soldiers, reaching out to sinners with the truth even as we make every effort to destroy the lies and other forms of evil that hold them in deadly bondage. That is a perfect summary for every Christian's duty in the Truth War.



Reference:

The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur, Nashville, TN, by Thomas Nelson, 2007, pp. 1-26.

Hat Tips:

Sosthenes via email.

USA Today

GateWay Pundit

2 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

'Now, in the "politically correct" cultural climate of today, along with the "ultra-tolerant" demand that no one claims absolute truth (which includes not embracing anything with certainty so as not to offend anyone), we can see how many non-believers might object to Mr. Koukl's certainty conclusion. At the same time, they may happily embrace Mr. Chopra's "tolerant" choice of uncertainty. Why? Because the position of theological oblivion is more desirable to the skeptic than holding to the truth as revealed through the Person of Jesus Christ.'

Well stated. And many non-Christian and/or liberal Christian observers want to emphasize the love of God and Christ at the expense of the truth and justice of God.

This is seen over and over again.

'MacArthur goes on to say that the ages-old war against truth has moved right into Christian community. This has happened in every major era of church history. That is why the apostle Paul was constantly engaged in battle against the lies of "false apostles [and] deceitful workers [who transformed] themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13).'

Yes, and what shall be done with it?

Happy New Year, Christine.:)

Russ

Christinewjc said...

Hi Russ!

You wrote:

"And many non-Christian and/or liberal Christian observers want to emphasize the love of God and Christ at the expense of the truth and justice of God."

Good point!

The love of God and Christ was never meant to be used at the expense of the truth and justice of God! Such a mindset by those who practice a liberal brand of Christian "religion" are oftentimes guilty of doing just that!

It is truly sad.

They don't even realize that they are siding with non-believers when they pursue heresy and apostasy in order to please themselves rather pleasing God.

You asked:

"Yes, and what shall be done with it?"

Expose it?

Happy New Year back at ya!

Christine