Saturday, June 14

Absolute Truth, part II

Absolute Truth, which my friend considers an arrogant presumption on an evangelical Christian’s part, is “the concept of an absolute, unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence.” Which automatically rejects my friend’s statement that an evangelical or any other believer cannot discover such a truth, for it stands against any individual attempt to define it in terms favorable to the speaker. What I believe was being referred to was subjective truth (a concept of truth that is based on a person’s perspective; i.e. feelings, beliefs, and desires) which can be impacted by humans and alters according to the introduction of new perspectives by voices that are more vocal than others.

Subjective truth is unique to the person who experiences it and is the core of what I believe the emerging church subscribes to. This is an logical explanation of why each ‘village’ subscribes to varying ‘truths’. Of course, this can be considered to be subjective to me and my perspective. So, we must apply it to something, some understanding of Truth, which lies beyond my or their perspective. The emerging theology claims that this cannot happen, which is applying their subjective truth to a concept that –by its definition, cannot be contained within the limited walls of such truth.

Historically, even before the apparent 'rebirth' of a monotheistic belief system under Abraham (according to the Christian tradition, and even the Islamic tradition), the sudden birth of Zoroastrianism, Orphism, Jainism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, the "new" Hinduism, and post-exilic Judaism in the span of a hundred year, early cultures shared a ‘high gods’ belief system despite animism, totemic, and naturist practices. High gods, who were all-knowing, eternal, and all-powerful, who controlled the moral order and interacted with the affairs of men. There is too much historical evidence to support that these ‘pagan’ cultures simply ‘went along to get along’ with the ‘new’ religions that came upon the cultural landscape.

As if it is in our societal memory, Socialogist David Stark points out in his book Discovering God, "Humans will tend to adopt and retain those elements of culture that appear to produce 'better' results, while those that appear less rewarding will be discarded." Is this a memory that is imprinted in our genetic makeup, reminders of a better life and place that we once resided in?

If Absolute Truth could be modified by such human beings, to shape and mold a god that was totally rational, loving and limitless in abilities and authority that is servant to our whims, what would it look like? As Stark asks in his book, “Did we discover God or have we just invented him?”

I find it hard to believe that a god who we invented would look like the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and would send His only begotten Son to die for a people who wouldn’t receive Him. But, how would we know that we have the Absolute Truth concerning this ‘invention’ of this God? How do we know that He is who we believe He is?

Religious traditions that swerve from a consistent core “can be relegated to human origin”, according to Stark’s criteria for this question of what faith is true. “According to the principle of divine accommodation, revelation should become increasingly sophisticated, telling us more, not less, about God over time..” is the second compelling criteria.

Regis Nicoll, an Centurion for the Wilberforce Foundation, points out in his article God and the evolution of belief, that only the monotheistic belief systems of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity can claim adherence to this criteria.
Each share the fundamental core regarding the nature of man, creation, and God in addition to a “progressive growth” of faith infancy that develops into an increasingly complex and comprehensive belief in “the doctrines of the Trinity, substitutionary atonement and other-centered love embedded in a historical, rather than mythical, context,” Nicoll points out.
The other ‘sudden’ developing traditions of Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism, Buddhism and a revamped Hinduism address man’s irrepressible need to now, “Now what?” The latter three have additional doctrines regarding a meritable ‘afterlife’. Nicoll points out that these movements define, “doctrines of good, evil, and the importance of right moral actions in one's destiny."

But none of these have an important part of the criteria Stark sets. None express a growing understanding of and regarding the complexity of God.

Understanding Salvation has become for some, as my friend stated, a purely transactional belief (i.e. the Roman Road). Others believe that it is inherently bulit into the original design and is a inheritance that we automatically claim upon the realization of our first breath. The truth is that the only transaction that takes place is the covering of our sins by the sacrificed blood of an innocent, who took the sins of our broken, sinful nature upon Himself to pay the price of Sin's existence. This was a debt we couldn't pay, even in our best efforts, for sin begets sin. The only thing that takes place is a 'replacement' for the payment of sin by God who became Man.

We only have to believe that He stood in our place. No transaction, an exchange for services or goods, takes place.

So that we couldn't boast that we were more righteous, more Christian, or even more understanding of the Truth than another.

Doctrinal differences exists even within the Christian community, but every one has this as their base, their foundation, and an unalterable truth. Otherwise, they aren't Christ-ian.

We have to believe in Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection to understand the rest.

An absolute. Something that defies change. You can either accept that or reject it.

It stands alone.

What bothers me about McLaren and other emergent authors is the selectiveness of their biblical expression, and the exclusion of the absolute truth of Christ. What sounds good isn't necessarily good.

And they want us to regress rather than progress to a ‘new age’ thinking system using those practices in the past that glorified man, not God.

As my friend remarked, Jesus taught us who would be first has to become last, who is rich to become poor, and those who are wronged, to forgive and not retaliate. Jesus also told us, as he pointed out, to pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross, where we have to submit to the absolute authority of Christ, who is God, and who indwells within us through the Holy Spirit.

It was also Christ who cleared the temple area twice, tossing out those who would tarnish His Father’s house with their greed, corrected not only His disciples but also the Pharisees in the distortion of the Scriptures. It was Christ who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. None can come to the Father but through Me.”

What truth will you believe? The truth told through the translation, personal experiences, and opinions of another.

Or the provable, historical, and authoritarian Truth that defies our understanding, logic, or desires?

I believe in the absolute Truth that is Jesus Christ. Not by my own authority, but as established by the authority of God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Not by any action of my own.

If I am intolerant, so be it. I am intolerant of distorts of any truth; be it the gospel, the 'global warming', or the effects of the destruction of the family upon the cultural and societal landscape of this world.


"I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."

I speak what I believe for the sake of those who question, wonder, and seek that Truth.

As do those who don’t believe as I do.

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