A review of Whatever Happened To Truth? Edited by Andreas Kostenberger.

Crossway Books, 2005.

These are not good days for truth. Truth has taken a hammering for several centuries now, and the attacks seem to intensify with each passing age. Modernism of course offered a reductionistic view of truth, arguing that only the empirically verifiable could pass the truth test.

And postmodernism has come along, declaring that there is no such thing as truth. All of which sits nicely with a largely hedonistic and relativistic West, in which individuals are quite happy to justify their selfishness by a shrug of the shoulders and the reply, “Whatever”.

In such a poisoned environment, this volume offers a much-needed antidote. Truth exists. Truth matters. And truth must be affirmed. Thus assert the authors found in this helpful volume.

This book actually comprises four separate essays, not necessarily of equal value or uniform consistency, but all of worth in the current debate.

The opening essay by Kostenberger focuses on truth as found in John’s gospel, especially in relation to the appearance of Jesus before Pilate. As Kostenberger has recently written a helpful commentary on John (in the Baker series, 2004), this is the most biblical-based of the essays, and reads much like an excursion from his commentary.

The second essay, by R. Albert Mohler, is an overview of the cultural trends that have arisen out of the modern and postmodern assaults on the biblical view of truth. After providing a readable, non-technical survey of the last several centuries, Mohler reminds us that a recovery of the biblical doctrine of revelation is needed to restore truth to its proper place.

Philosopher and apologist J.P. Moreland examines the philosophical assault on truth, especially the attack on the correspondence theory of truth. He critiques the confusions of postmodernism, and offers helpful distinctions and conceptual clarity in our understanding of truth. He demonstrates how a modest version of foundationalism is still defensible and worth promoting.

Finally Kevin Vanhoozer offers what may be the most important and detailed discussion of this book. He explores the related concerns of doctrine, hermeneutics, truth and understanding. He offers nuanced discussions on how we should understand concepts such as inerrancy, the role and meaning of propositional truth, and the phenomenon of Scripture. Those familiar with his earlier works, especially Is There a Meaning in the Text? (1998), First Theology (2002), and The Drama of Doctrine (2005) will find similar themes here, and will enjoy the complexity and sensitivity of his argumentation.

Being a collection of diverse essays, which tend to go off in different trajectories, this volume can appear to be slightly disjointed. But the four authors all share common concern over the war on truth, and the need for biblical Christians to once again stand up for truth when it is no longer popular to do so, even within sections of the church. As such, this is a valuable set of articles that deserve a wide reading.

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One Reply to “A review of Whatever Happened To Truth? Edited by Andreas Kostenberger.”

  1. Interesting … I was just listening to a sermon called Dealing with Bible Problems by James M. Boice. He was speaking about these very things.

    Boice tells of a conversation he once had with a woman who sat next to him on a flight. During their discussion on matters of the gospel, she repeatedly answers him with; “But that’s just your opinion.” Boice agrees with her and replies “yes, that’s right, it is my opinion, but is it true?”

    She got the point after around the 12th time!

    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=628

    Annette Nestor

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