“Some Version of the Truth”

This morning I had the pleasure of speaking to a room full of Christian educators. I spoke on “Teaching to Test Worldviews,” giving a framework by which we can teach young people to analyze non-Biblical worldviews. The pleasure truly was all mine.

Something interesting happened about an hour before my session. It was one of those moments when God shows us that we’re moving in the right direction. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about.

I was sitting on a sofa, looking over my notes and putting some finishing touches on my presentation. A man walked over, talking business rather sternly with some poor soul on the other end of the connection. As he sat down on an adjacent sofa, he said something that stole my attention:

We’ll just give him some version of the truth.

How interesting that he sat down next to a Christian apologetics teacher review notes on teaching a Biblical worldview.

I’m not one to interrupt a phone call, and this man did not strike me as one who wanted to discuss the nature of truth. So, I worked away and tried to not listen to the rest of the conversation. However, he hung up and made a second phone call. I kid you not. The first words of the conversation:

Hey…what’s today’s version of reality?

The phone call took the man outside, and I did not have the chance to share with him my interest. His disposition suggested that he would not have welcomed such a conversation anyways. Furthermore, I am fairly certain that I heard more in his statements than he intended to say.

But, here’s the thing…

The experience affirmed that the ideas that underly such statements are more pervasive that we often assume. As Francis Schaffer stated, “People function on the basis of their worldview more consistently than even they themselves may realize.” This man was not thinking about his worldview, but he was speaking with it.

The idea that truth and reality are relative to each person’s perspective is a popular idea, but it is a fallacious idea. Relativism begins with the assumption that all points of view are equally valid, but it ends with the inability to find any objective truth or reality.

As Francis J. Beckwith and Greg Koukl titled their book on the subject, relativism leaves us with our “feet firmly planted in mid-air.”

Here are a few of my favorite quotes on relativism:

The modern habit of saying “This is my opinion, but I may be wrong” is entirely irrational. If I say that it may be wrong, I say that is not my opinion. The modern habit of saying “Every man has a different philosophy; this is my philosophy and it suits me” – the habit of saying this is mere weak-mindedness. A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon. ― G.K. Chesterton

I do not want to drive across a bridge designed by an engineer who believed the numbers in structural stress models are relative truths. ― R.C. Sproul, Choosing My Religion

The relativism which is not willing to speak about truth but only about ‘what is true for me’ is an evasion of the serious business of living. It is the mark of a tragic loss of nerve in our contemporary culture. It is a preliminary symptom of death.
― Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

Relativism poses as humble by saying: “We are not smart enough to know what the truth is—or if there is any universal truth.” It sounds humble. But look carefully at what is happening. It’s like a servant saying: I am not smart enough to know which person here is my master—or if I even have a master. The result is that I don’t have a master and I can be my own master. That is in reality what happens to relativists: In claiming to be too lowly to know the truth, they exalt themselves as supreme arbiter of what they can think and do. This is not humility. This is the essence of pride. ― John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

The problem with the statements I heard this morning is that truth—if it is, in fact, the truth—will only have one version. Reality—if it is, in fact, reality—will only have one version. The alternative is absurdity. And, that is probably not what we bargained for. At least, I doubt that is what the businessman I heard was bargaining for this morning.

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