Truth & Goodness
-I am going to focus on Truth with the understanding that truth defines Goodness
-Jesus makes an enormous truth claim here
1. There is an Absolute Truth
2. Everyone on the side of Truth listens to me
-How could he say this?
John 14:36 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
-Jesus said a lot about Truth
John 17:17 - Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 16:13 - When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak
John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Pilate’s response…”What is truth???”
-Pilate is struggling with this very question
-Both his beliefs and actions are on the line!
-Absolute Truth. Absolute truth is true regardless of how a person thinks or feels about it.
-Relative Truth. Relative truth is the belief truth changes based on the individual’s understanding of it.
-Throughout human history there has bee an understanding of the divine, creation and therefore a cosmic truth, goodness and beauty
“Truth goodness and beauty were not merely subjective preferences or private opinions but rather three distinct yet interrelated manifestations of the divine reality of the cosmos.”
-With the advent the modern age, and more specifically the advancement of modern science, knowledge has become increasingly redefined in such a way as to exclude any divine moral order.
-Only what can be verified by the by method, namely science and math, is true
Anything else is relegated to the realm of personal/subjective
This is called Relativism (a.k.a. “I Say” Relativism) or Relative Truth
It starts with the premise..There is No Absolute Truth
-There is no absolute truth…is an absolute truth :-)
Mathematics - Grant proposal for a bridge…I have my own personal math
-We expects universal math and science
There is French or Chinese literature, but not math or science
Let’s correct our premise that there is no absolute truth
-Everyone believes in absolute truth
-What we are really talking about is truth in morals and values
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
US Supreme Court Justice
Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, 1992
-Trying out one’s new sword
Samurai sword example
Anyone would say this is wrong
Few people would say that is relative???
Because people have value…why?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”
-We have just tapped into moral absolute truth
The premise of No Absolute Truth is crumbling under our mere humanity
First in information…math & science
Now into morals and ethics (truth & goodness)
-We have a deeper or absolute sense of truth or justice
This is not conditioned by culture
-Hidden Cost of Relativism: Collectively we had to surrender any sense of meaning or purpose born of a reality divinely embedded in a created order
Meaning is impervious to measurement and method
-Common Position…Do no harm
This ignores communal reality of our humanity
-Final Stand - I’m spiritual
There is something undefinable out there that gives meaning
So there are SOME absolute truths
You had better follow them
Or the t-shirt mantra of “Be Kind” will be torn off revealing the sword of judgment
Pitfalls of Relativism: Each define reality
1. Absence of Accountability
C.S. Lewis quote
And all the time such is the tragic comedy of our situation - We continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more "drive" or dynamism or self-sacrifice or "creativity.” In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our mist. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. We cannot teach our students that truth is relative and expect our politicians to be honest: we can't claim the good has been replaced by situational ethics and expect our bankers to ground their business decisions in anything other than profit, greed, and expediency; and we cannot relegate beauty to personal preference and then fain shock when we encounter a urinal as part of an art exhibit.
-How do we get mad when we don’t like how people act? Who are you to judge my truth?
2. Ends in Isolation
-A common reality must be received, not defined individually
Otherwise no common language exists
-No common agreement on meaning = No communication understanding
This leads to isolation
-Each strives to get the other to submit to their meaning
With no external objective reality
-Intimacy becomes impossible
-Avoidance is necessary to avoid conflict
This system is predicated on isolation
-Wars against our deepest instinct for intimacy and community
-Play out in a family - I decide tomorrow…
3. Avails Only Coercion
-If absolute truth, goodness and beauty collapse into the subjective as personal preference, then the only way they can be a moral consensus in society is through the use of coercion. If a sense of divine obligation, and hence self government has been erased, then only coercion, compulsion, and extortion can provide a motivation for ethical conformity.
-This is vitally important as this is what is happening in our culture
Absolute truth is abandoned to relativism
The court of public opinion is wielding the sword mercilessly
-So we live with a growing fear of a “truth” outside of public opinion’s truth
4. Unheard of Atrocities
Soviet Russia/Communist State - 20-60 million people killed
Nazi multiplied - 18 million
Mao’s China - 40-80 million
Why does this matter as a church?
Salvation & Sanctification Depends Upon It
John 8:31-32 - To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
-John 17:17 says that we are sanctified by the truth
Disciples think the foundation is the Bible
-Our foundation begins before the Bible
-Our approach to the Bible is dependent on a conviction that there is objective truth
Abandonment Comes Easy
II Timothy 4:2-4 - Preach the word…For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires [relative truth], they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
-Greet “myth” - Muthos is to be contrasted with aletheia, "truth," and with logos
-“a story, a narrative purporting to set forth facts," e.g., Mat 28:15
-a "saying" (i.e., an account, story, in which actually there is a falsification of facts)
-It is easy to slip into letting go of the truth
I Timothy 3:15 - if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
-This is an amazing call as God’s church!