December 21st 2006, 03:48 PM #1
ARTICLE: Truth Is a Strange Sort of Fiction
Truth Is a Strange Sort of Fiction
“Are any of you in this room God?” the professor asked. She scanned the audience slowly, looking for takers. No hands went up.
“God knows ‘TRUTH,’” she continued, writing the word in all caps on the board. “All truth is God’s truth. God is truth. But you are not God. Therefore, you only know ‘truth.’” She then scrawled in lower case this secondary and substandard take on reality next to the superior version that is forever out of reach of mere humans.
She paused for a moment, letting her point sink in, then closed. “Have a nice day,” she said, and dismissed the class.
It was a brilliant piece of rhetorical wizardry. Students were too busy taking notes and worrying whether or not this would be on the test to think carefully about what had just been said. To contemplate what had been stolen from them. To consider the ruin this foreshadowed for their faith.
And yes, this was a Christian group—Christian students with a Christian professor in a respectable Christian College on the East Coast.
The professor’s assertions teemed with confusion. What does “TRUTH” mean? Omniscience? That couldn’t be her meaning. That God knows everything and we do not is a trivial observation, hardly a revelation even for college freshman.
Does she mean we can’t know things in the way God knows them, that we don’t see the world the way He does? Again, not particularly profound.
No, I think she was going after the conviction in “modernist” circles that mere humans can actually have something like absolute truth, knowledge they can count on. For postmoderns, this proclivity is especially noxious when it includes “absolutes” about religion or morality.
Instead, we mortals inhabit a kind of knowledge twilight, an epistemological grayness where the outlines of reality are vague and indistinct, robbing us of all confidence that anything we think we know is actually so.
This kind of thinking is all the rage right now, a postmodern wave, and more and more Christian institutions—universities, colleges, and even churches—are happily riding the crest.
The purveyors of this “wisdom” seem to be blind to its suicidal tendencies. A simple question makes this obvious:
Professor, I have been listening very carefully and I’m confused. How am I to take your comments? Is this bit of insight you’ve offered to us true, or is it false? It seems you mean to be telling us the way things really are (or you wouldn’t be telling us these things, I imagine), but that creates a problem for me. If true, what kind of “truth” is it? Is this an example of TRUTH, or is it just truth? If the former, you seem to be claiming to know what you claim you can never know because you’re not God. If the latter—if what you’ve offered is just your individual, subjective, relativistic perception of reality— then why should any of us take it seriously? Can you clear this up for me?
Paul warned us not to be taken “captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Yet captivity abounds, even in places intended by God to be a refuge from such error.
For this reason I have devoted the next three issues of Solid Ground to examining the trends in the emerging culture that are deeply influencing the emerging church, ideas that, I think, ultimately sabotage the message Jesus Himself commissioned.
Please read these articles carefully. They contain some of the most important analysis I’ve ever offered you. Some of the things may seem a bit academic initially, especially in this first installment. Do not underestimate their significance, though. I’ve worked very hard to make the ideas accessible to everyone because they represent the foundation for what is to follow.
The central mistake is in thinking that just because we can’t know everything the way God knows it means we can’t know anything God knows. If that error is allowed to stand—worse, if it’s made to look profound, wise, and even noble—then our message will be chaff in the wind to all who hear us.
To read the entire series on this issue visit:
Stand to Reason - Equipping Christian ambassadors with knowledge, wisdom, and character - www.str.org
Stand to Reason - Training Christian in knowledge, wisdom, and character - www.str.org