GETTING A WORLD THAT DOES NOT GET IT

TRUTH AND TOLERANCE
TOPIC 1

So what, if truth is absolute?

Living in a world where truth is relative and Christianity is intolerant

In today’s postmodern world Christianity is seen by some as evil and intolerant. Many of the truth claims of Christianity offend. Surely, there is not just one way to heaven? Biblical truths about issues such as sexuality, marriage, euthanasia, abortion and hell are seen as homophobic, untrue and hateful. Indeed, the Bible has been called hate speech.

In the 1960’s our world embraced a new era that emphasised love and peace at the expense of truth and righteousness. We entered the postmodern era where the fundamental definitions of truth and tolerance changed. Today, those who embrace postmodern values see truth as relative and tolerance requiring us to see all beliefs and ideas as having equal value. Indeed, society now requires us to embrace and celebrate others and their beliefs, even though we may see them as being untrue, and indeed harmful.

In this topic we explore and compare the postmodern and Christian understanding of truth and tolerance. Postmodernists do not attempt to refine their thoughts about what is right or wrong, true or false, good or evil. They do not believe that truth is absolute. Christians see God as the source and foundation of truth. We search for truth because we are made in the image of God. Christians come into conflict with postmodern society in determining what is morally true.

In this topic we will see that truth is absolute, and that relative truth cannot exist because it is inherently self-contradictory. In looking at truth we also explore the evidence for the existence of God and the exclusivity claims of the Christian faith.

The insistence on relativism has led to a redefinition of tolerance. The classic view of tolerance was enduring with others with whom we hold differing views and opinions. Today’s view of culture is that we must see all beliefs as having equal value and that we must embrace and celebrate others and their beliefs, even though we view them as untrue or lacking in value.

Our challenge as Christians is the moral imperative to share this truth with others. How can we best do this in today’s cultural environment in which our views are regarded as evil?

Key Resources

The War on Truth

The Bible values both truth and love and recognises them as inherent in God’s character. This selection of four videos from a series called The War on Truth explores the postmodern age from a Christian perspective. You can find the complete series here - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0f6_epwixV70SM1xQNBOCKhyynKK0pJb or go to their website http://thefuelproject.org/.

The first video shows how our political ideologies have each taken either the imperative of truth or the imperative of love as the foundational value for their worldview. In a previous video Fairley shows how these are complementary traits of God’s character. The video shows how left liberalism focuses on love, grace, mercy and kindness, while right conservatism focuses on truth, justice, righteousness and holiness. Mark Fairley shows how these two positions play out in the areas of race, gender, sexuality, religion, politics, refugees, parenting and the treatment of criminals. Focusing on either love or truth results in contradictory ideas. He concludes that Christians need to value both truth and love equally.

The second video explores why western democracies are becoming increasingly liberal. He traces it back to the cultural revolution of the 1960s (the new age) where people felt they were seeing the emergence of a new era of love and peace. It was also the era characterised by anti-logic, anti-reason and anti-truth, anti-reality, anti-fact. He explains the consequences of focusing on love and discrediting truth and explains the emergence of liberal views on sexuality, marriage, mental health, the value of human life, law and liberty of thought and speech and the social, moral and economic costs of these.

In the third video Fairley explores how postmodernism has seeped into Christian theology as the Christian church has moved left. Liberal “Christian” leaders redefine theology by disregarding truth and elevating the importance of love. He also exposes the double-speak of “liberal Christian” leaders who do not stand up for the truth of the Bible and see value in one world government and one world religion that excludes biblical Christianity. Sadly, many millennials are being led away from biblical Christianity by this flawed theology. The podcast mentions survey results, which show that their lifestyles and beliefs contradict biblical moral values.

The final video highlights seven takeaways from the series. He concludes that Christians must take the middle ground and focus on the Cross where all virtue meets.

These videos have been included on the Christians Engaging Culture podcast channel. You can subscribe to the Christians Engaging Culture Podcast in your favourite podcast app.

The War on Truth

Title: The War on Truth #6 – Liberals Versus ConservativesVideo/ Podcast duration: 12’29”Speaker: Mark FairleyPublisher: http://thefuelproject.org/Originally published at: https://youtu.be/NqJur1XjWqkDate accessed: - 10/08/2020
Title: The War on Truth #10 – The Postmodern eraVideo/ Podcast duration: 11’27”Speaker: Mark FairleyPublisher: http://thefuelproject.org/Originally published at: https://youtu.be/zo3WD3ieZZA Date accessed: - 10/08/2020
Title: The War on Truth #18 – The Truth About Postmodern ChristianityVideo/ Podcast duration: 12’46”Speaker: Mark FairleyPublisher: http://thefuelproject.org/Originally published at: https://youtu.be/CHybYBa9jDkDate accessed: - 10/08/2020
Title: The War on Truth #19 – ConclusionVideo/ Podcast duration: 2’30”Speaker: Mark FairleyPublisher:http://thefuelproject.org/Originally published at: https://youtu.be/xEMip-ctXYsDate accessed: - 10/08/2020

How do you know that Christianity is the one true worldview? - Ravi Zacharias

In this video Ravi Zacharias explains that all religions are fundamentally different in their basic tenets although superficially similar. He states that all religions must answer four fundamental questions about origin, meaning, morality and destiny and that these must be answered in two ways; every particular answer has to correspond to truth either through empirical measurement or logical reasoning. And when the four answers are put together, they must have coherence. Only Christianity can answer these questions in a manner that is both truthful and coherent.

As he answers the question Ravi demonstrates his respectful approach to engaging others in conversations about faith, in particular the power of using questions that expose contradictions in underlying beliefs.

This video / podcast has been included on the Christians Engaging Culture podcast channel. You can subscribe to the Christians Engaging Culture Podcast in your favourite podcast app.

How do you know that Christianity is the one true worldview?

Speaker: Ravi ZachariasVideo/ Podcast duration: 9’10”Publisher: [Publisher] Ravi Zacharias International MinistriesOriginally published at: https://youtu.be/nWY-6xBA0PkDate accessed: - 10/08/2020

God Does Exist – by Professor John Lennox

In this video John Lennox provides a coherent rational explanation as to why he believes in the existence of God and the bible.

He argues that the universe is rational and intelligible and that these characteristics are the basis of scientific inquiry.

People today are desperate to show that the universe created itself out of nothing (the Big Bang), whereas scientific inquiry and rational thinking leads us to expect a unique event with an underlying supernatural plan. The universe has a maker and ultimately only He can explain it and he does so in the Bible.

Lennox argues that human reason was designed and created by God to enable us to understand and believe the truth, and that we seek truth and morality because we are made in the image of God.

The chief evidence for the existence and nature of God is Jesus Christ as God become human. He is a personal God. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the crunch issue as to whether atheism or Christianity is true. The Cross provides the solution to our sinfulness and explains evil and suffering. The resurrection provides the solution to death and the satisfaction of ultimate justice from the ultimate judge, Jesus. Atheism is unable to satisfactorily explain these issues.

Lennox is most excited about the ability to know a personal God. God is real and worthy to be trusted.

This video / podcast has been included on the Christians Engaging Culture podcast channel. You can subscribe to the Christians Engaging Culture Podcast in your favourite podcast app.

God Does Exist

Video/ Podcast duration: 15’17”Speaker: Professor John LennoxPublisher: Oxford UnionOriginally published at: https://youtu.be/otrqzITuSqEDate accessed: - [Date the video was accessed - filled in by the Web Manager]

Why Are Christians So Intolerant? By J. Warner Wallace

In this podcast Wallace clearly explains how the definitions of truth and tolerance have changed in the postmodern era. Christians are seen as intolerant and unloving because we uphold that truth is absolute in a world that sees truth as relative. He explains that truth by its very nature is absolute – you cannot say absolutely that there is nothing that is absolutely true.

Wallace also explains how the definition of tolerance has changed such that tolerance requires us to accept and embrace every other view as equally valuable and relies heavily on the relativistic view of truth. Previously tolerance was defined as enduring one another even though we held different views.

He states that truth is exclusive and objective and determines what is right and wrong.

He calls us to be patient and to speak the truth of the gospel in love. He challenges us by saying that Christians, who know the truth, have a moral responsibility to share the truth.

This video / podcast has been included on the Christians Engaging Culture podcast channel. You can subscribe to the Christians Engaging Culture Podcast in your favourite podcast app.

Video/ Podcast duration: ~ 25’10”Speaker: J Warner WallacePublisher: https://coldcasechristianity.com/podcasts/why-are-christians-so-intolerant-podcast/ - start at 21’50” and stop at 47’01”Date accessed: - 13/08/2020


OTHER KEY RESOURCES

What is Truth?

These two articles read together define truth, explain the characteristics of truth (Lawson), explain why as humans we inherently seek truth and why we don’t want to acknowledge truth (Clay).

The simple definition provided is that “truth is that which conforms with fact or reality.” It is not determined by personal feelings, popular vote, scientific consensus, or any human court of appeal.

Truth is anchored in God. Theologically, truth is that which is consistent with the mind, character, glory and being of God. It is the self-disclosure of God himself. Therefore, all truth must be defined in terms of God, whose very nature is truth.

Clay explains that we expect truth because we are made in God’s image. We may profess that truth is relative, but we expect truth in our dealings with others. Sadly because of sin we often don’t want to know and obey the truth.

Reading Time: 7’53”Author: Steven LawsonPublisher: ligonier – ligonier.orgOriginally published at: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-is-truth/Date accessed: - 10/08/2020

What is Truth? A Christian Perspective - Brandon Clay, Steven Lawson

Reading Time: 5’10”Author: Brandon ClayPublisher: theolocast - https://theolocast.orgOriginally published at: https://theolocast.org/blog/what-is-truth/Date accessed: - 10/08/2020

THREE QUICK THINGS YOU CAN SAY

Today we are asked to affirm everyone and their views. We are asked to believe that everyone’s beliefs are equally valuable and valid. How do you work out whether the views and opinions of others are valid and meaningful for you? How do you work out what is true for you in living your life? Have you thought about whether there is an ultimate source of truth?

____________________________

I am unsure how people can live peacefully together when we all have different understandings of what is true and what is moral. It’s a big ask and a big responsibility for us all to work out what is true for us. God in his goodness has given us the moral truths that will allow us to flourish as individuals and in community.

_____________________________

Let’s put aside the fact that we look at things differently. Let’s instead take this time to really understand where each other is coming from. What is your view on (name the area where you see you are in conflict)? How did you come to this view? Why is it meaningful to you?

TWO WAYS TO TURN DISCUSSION TO THE GOSPEL

I believe there is an ultimate source of truth and that is God and that God has made His truth known. The most beautiful truth, a truth which is the foundation for how I live my life, is that Jesus died out of love for me so that I can enjoy his best gift ever, to really know him personally and that he rose from the dead and therefore has the power to take me to heaven to be with him when I die.

__________________________________

What do you think happens to us when we die? How can you be certain about this? I believe that Jesus is the certain answer to life after death. There is historical proof that Jesus, God living as a man, died and rose from the dead. Jesus is now in heaven and he has told us that we can be in heaven also if we trust and believe in him. May I please share with you what the resurrection of Jesus means for me?

FIVE BIBLE PASSAGES CONCERNING TRUTH AND TOLERANCE

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

John 11:25–26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Romans 1:19–20 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

GROUP OR PERSONAL REFLECTION

  1. What are the consequences of focusing on love at the expense of truth and conversely of focusing on truth at the expense of love? What do you see as the impact of liberal Christian churches adopting the postmodern values that elevate love over truth, on Christians, on the church and on society? Why do you think the secular world sees evangelical Christianity as evil? What can we do about it? (Refer to the videos / podcasts The War on Truth.)


  1. How could you explain why you believe what you believe? How would you address an accusation against the view that Christianity is exclusive and intolerant? How would you talk to someone about whether we can be certain that God exists?


  1. Christians are called to speak the truth in love. Indeed we have a moral responsibility to share the truth. What do you think we need to know and do as Christians that will enable us to speak God’s truth in love? When you speak to others about the Christian faith what things do you do well? What things would you like to improve on? What do you need to do to be more effective in this area?

PRAYER FOR TRUTH AND TOLERANCE

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Father that you have made yourself known to us through your bible and the work of the Spirit in our hearts. As the creator of the universe you are the source of all truth. You have given us everything we need to know you as our personal and loving God and to know what is morally true. You are holy and we can therefore be certain that the moral truths in your bible are those that will allow us to flourish personally and in community. Father, we find ourselves in a world that sees your word and your moral truths as evil. It is so hard to speak your truth to others when we may be rebuked and called evil. Yet we also know that we have a moral responsibility to share your truth with others, not only the truth of your salvation but also the truth of what is morally good and right. Sadly, they have been deceived and do not regard truth as important. Please convict me of the need to share your truth. I ask that your spirit to lead and guide me as I speak with others. Please help me to understand where they are coming from and to speak to them in a way that they can hear your truth. Finally, please prepare their hearts and minds. Father, I am unable to speak your truth to others in my own power and wisdom, but only in yours

In Jesus' name. Amen.

DIGGING DEEPER

Romans 1:19-20 tells us that God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them….so they are without excuse. God is nearby and obvious to anyone who wants to find him.

This brilliant article provides 31 reasons to believe in the God of the Bible. Clay provides a concise and informative summary of the scientific, philosophical, historical and biblical arguments for the existence of God. For the Christian it emphasises the awesomeness of God and we bow down in praise.

https://theolocast.org/blog/existence-of-god-31-reasons-to-believe-in-the-god-of-the-bible/Estimated read time: 10’48”Author: Brandon ClayPublisher: theolocast.orgDate accessed: - 10/08/2020

Christians are called to live out the classic view of tolerance. We are called to love people without compromising the truth. Our world does not have a model of people who hold to the truth and value others. McDowell urges us to build relationships with people who hold different beliefs to us.

https://www.summit.org/resources/videos/christians-practice-tolerance/Speaker: Seam McDowellDuration:1’54”Publisher: Summit Ministries – www.summit.orgDate accessed: 10/08/2020

This page was posted on: 13/08/2020