When Truth Disappears

Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences. Unfortunately in the secular West, the rejection of God – which was meant to bring freedom – has simply resulted in bondage: bondage to bad ideas, bad thinking and bad worldviews.

A reigning worldview in much of the West – at least on most university campuses – is postmodernism. Along with its half-sister, deconstructionism, it has had a very strong, and negative, impact. A major casualty of pomo and decon is the very concept of truth.

The concept of objective, universal and unchanging truth is now more or less rejected, and in its place are simply ‘truths’. We all have our own truth, and no one’s truth is better than another’s. You have your story, I have mine, and that is all there is.

Metanarratives, or grand, overarching stories which are universally true, have been rejected for individual or cultural stories. We are told to be suspicious of such mega-stories, and of all claims at having the correct interpretation of things.

Indeed, deconstructionists insist that there is no one correct interpretation of a text (which can be anything: an idea, a book, a work of art, or a piece of music). Meaning is given to the text by the reader – there is no objective meaning to the text. Readers define and create textual meaning.

We are told we cannot grasp the mind or intention of the author – whether in literature or reality. There is no truth “out there” waiting to be discovered. Each of us “reads” reality from our own perspective. It all sounds pretty nifty in theory, but of course no one can live as a consistent postmodernist or deconstructionist.

Reality has a good way of standing these foolish worldviews on their head. If a trendy decon type goes to a bank and seeks to cash a $10,000 cheque, but is given instead ten dollars, he will be the first to make a stink. But under his own worldview, the bank teller could simply say, “Well, you have your interpretation and I have mine. None is better than another.”

Stupid theories always bang their heads against the realities of life. If we treated the instructions on a bottle of medicine as the deconstructionists would have us do, we would be in big trouble – maybe even dead. If it says do not exceed more than 10 mils per day, we better well assume the text means what it says, and is not open to anyone’s fanciful interpretation, such as 100 mils.

And no judge in a court of law will be very impressed with the excuse made by the pomo speeder: “But your honour, the sign said 60 mph, but I determine what the meaning of the text is. After all, there is no inherent meaning to any text, so I read it as 160 mph.”

Of course it is obvious that along with this rejection of objective truth and a commonly shared meaning, the basic laws of logic must go as well. Logic presupposes truth, but when everything is relative, then logic can no longer be appealed to. Thus fundamental laws like the law of non-contradiction have to be jettisoned.

This law simply states that A cannot be non-A. In the words of Aristotle, “one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time”. No two contradictory statements can both be true at the same time and in the same sense.

I am either now typing away on my keyboard or I am not now typing away on my keyboard. Both statements cannot be true simultaneously in their description of what I am currently doing. To seek to affirm two mutually exclusive truth claims may appeal to the pomo crowd, and many adherents of Eastern religions, especially Zen Buddhists, but it simply does not wash with reality.

So great has been the insidious spread of pomo and decon madness, that we find examples of this plague everywhere. Fuzzy and illogical thinking is rampant in our society, and politicians are certainly not immune from this intellectual disease.

Consider the recent remark by our new Prime Minister. Speaking of her atheism – although careful not to use the A word – she was happy to parade her religious past, even though she has now rejected it entirely. She told the ABC, “I’m a non-practising Baptist”.

Sorry, but for anyone who takes the Judeo-Christian worldview seriously, there just is no such thing as a non-practicing Christian (regardless of the denominational stripe). One might as well describe oneself as a non-practicing virgin. Or a non-practicing teetotaler.

If one is a real Christian, one is a practicing Christian. But the complete breakdown of truth and absolutes is not just a feature of the secular world. Sadly the church has imbibed deeply of this relativism and intellectual suicide. Many so-called believers are simply eclectic and syncretistic, believing they can juggle mutually contradictory beliefs.

I have met all sorts of these folk, from those who tell me they are Christians who also believe in reincarnation, to those who claim they are believers who are not bound by Scripture, and so on. There is even a group called “Atheists for Jesus”. I kid you not.

These folk profess to be followers of Jesus but believe things and do things which belie such a profession. Indeed, both Testaments make it clear that our walk and talk must be in sync, and any contradictions are indications of a lack of true faith. Indeed, there is much that flatly contradicts the remark of Ms Gillard in particular and the syncretists in general:

Joshua 24:15 Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
Matthew 12:30 He who is not with me is against me.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
1 John 2:4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 4:6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

All these passages assume that absolute truth exists. They all assume the law of non-contradiction. They all assume that religious pluralism is wrong. They all assume that life is about important decisions, not mushy compromise and eclecticism.

These and many other passages are based on the notion that truth exists, truth is knowable, and to reject truth is to embrace falsehood. Thus Christianity is overwhelmingly a religion based on exclusive truth claims. Such strong and uncompromising assertions of truth were not popular in Jesus’ day.

And they are not popular today. Anyone affirming truth will be called intolerant, judgmental, and unloving. So be it. The proclamation of truth resulted in Jesus being crucified, his disciples persecuted, and his church rejected. That will always be the case.

But as truth goes missing, it is time for God’s people to stand up and be counted. Christians are always the true radicals, the true revolutionaries. We go against the prevailing worldview and the spirit of the age. We proclaim black and white in an age of 99 shades of grey.

And that’s the truth.

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