In our culture today many people are asking, “What is truth?” People approach truth from two vantage points; one, a pursuit of knowledge and two, a desire to confirm what one believes to be truth. Other factors play into how one finds truth, and we they must find out if they are influenced by relativism or subjectivism. In this post, I will address some of the issues facing Christians by raising a number of objections that people have to Christianity and then I will offer a few answers.
Objection 1: My truth is your truth so really there is no truth. This objection is centered on the belief that Jesus was just a good man and not really God. To make this argument, they have to say they know all that one can know about Jesus. This argument is known as relativism which holds that truth is relative and no truth can be absolute. Truth then would be whatever that a person, or a people group believe to be true, is true.
This objection focuses on what we think to be true. How can we know Jesus is more than just a good person? In order to know this, we would have to take a look at what He said and did. John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The claims of Jesus Himself are not inclusive but exclusive. He teaches that nobody can come to the Father but through Him. This forms the basis for a natural objection because of our pride.
The argument from relativism stems from pride. In our pride, we think we know all Truth. The reality is that we are finite and cannot understand everything. As humans we are each endowed by our Creator with special abilities, talents and strengths which lend to the work of God or the destruction of the work of God.
At the forefront of this is the belief that in our own logic, reason and ability we can find the answers through our opinions. At odds with this is the notion of opinion verses Truth. The issue at stake is, “Are we truly made in the image of God, or am I just a person floating around with no purpose?” If God is the One who created us and He is the One who wrote the laws within the fabric of Creation, then only He can sustain His creation.
The human reaction to Truth is to oppose it. The reaction to Truth is to cut it down to its bare essentials and then to make it more palatable. The truth of the matter is, humans are driven to religion by the busload. The reality is that we want our religion our own way so we can have our own way to God. This is shown by human experience. What happens when a nation desires a leader? Do they seek God for the leader He wants? Or do they just select the leader or ideology they prefer? History teaches us that man seeks his own way apart from God. We are all seeking after a form of our own religion apart from God. The truth is that we can only know Truth when it comes from God because He is the One who created us, the One who sustains us, and the One who gave the laws in creation, so that we could live in His creation.
In Christianity, we make this argument also by saying to other Christians that it is what you believe but that is not what I believe. This is what I call Christian relativism. As Christians we have the Word of God which is inspired, inerrant and authorative over every area of life. We need to submit to the Word of God to find the answers to our questions from the Truth which God has given us. In this way we can form a Christian worldview which is counterculture to the message of the culture, which says to value what you believe.
The second objection says that the individual not the person/persons are a form of truth or knowledge. Subjectivism says that the individual is the source and judge of all knowledge based upon their own experience and knowledge. The argument from subjectivism centers on what I can do to know truth apart from God. This is also another form of secularism that we find spread throughout our culture today. Secularism is the belief that rejects everything associated with religion. Subjectivism and secularism are twins from the same family, because they have at the root of them the desire to worship what they believe.
We then are confronted with the reality of the issue of truth. What is Truth? How can I know Truth? Can it be known only by me or can it be known to others also? Do people receive revelation from a god, goddess or God Himself? Are their multiple ways to heaven? What makes Christianity so certain that it’s the only way to God? This then raises the next objection.
Objection 3-If Christianity is true and Jesus came to save me then why are Christians so divided in what they believe? This is actually an objection I hear a lot as a ministry leader. The main point of this is that we love to promote what we know. In my experience as a ministry leader, I have seen many believers who throw this down people’s throats instead of speaking the Truth in love. It is easy to get passionate about what we believe, and then throw it down a person’s throat. This turns people off quicker than anything. We must speak the truth but temper it with love.
This objection is true for many people who have been burned or hurt by the Christian church. In ministry, I have had many encounters with believers and non-believers alike that have been burned by the church or just disillusioned by what it believes. The common thread among those who I’ve talked to is, “Why is Christianity so divided? How can I know truth in the vast complex of American Christianity?” The answer to this question centers on the role of the Gospel and its purpose to seek and save that which is lost, and bring it into relationship with God. This objection stands out in popular culture as one of the main charges against the Christian church today. It does so because we, as the church preach a weak Gospel that promotes popular fads instead of a the Gospel.
This weak Gospel pervades American Christianity, because opinion is preached which devalues Truth. When people say, “I believe this”, or “how do you feel about this,” these questions belie ulterior motives other than the pursuit of Truth itself. We don’t know Truth by our feelings or by our experience; we know it, because it itself is Truth. Truth is not relegated to either our experience or our feelings. If Truth were at the level of our feelings then we could feel truth in the core of our being. If Truth were only known through our experience then we would have a hundred tales to tell but not one to base our lives around.
The Word of God is authorative for our lives and stands for the entire world as the standard for Truth. One cannot know truth apart from God because the Lord God is the One who created us. Since He is the One who created us, He is the One who wrote the laws in creation, and as such is the only One who can sustain us to live in His creation.
What is Truth? It’s a question that we all must answer and the answer to that question will dictate the course our lives chart. The practical implications on our answers to this question will range from how we treat our wives to how we deal with other fellow human beings. The implications are enormous for what I’ve said here today and I hope you will take time to consider them and ask further questions along the way.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021) and The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.