Introduction to Truth
Pilate dared to ask his famous question—what is truth?—when the incarnate Truth had been arrested and was standing right there in front of him (John 18:38). Jesus had just told him that everyone who is of the truth hears His voice, and Pilate responded in the way he did, indicating by that means that he at any rate was not of the truth.
Truth comes to us two ways. The ultimate truth is incarnate; the ultimate truth, the ultimate Word came and dwelt among us (John 1:14; 14:6). The other way truth comes to us is by way of witness or testimony. Jesus referred to this kind of truth in His exchange with Pilate. It was for this reason that Jesus was born into the world—in order to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). This is why Pilate asked the question in the first place.
And this is also why everything hinges on the correspondence view of truth. The correspondence understanding of truth makes it possible for testimony to be true. The witness that is submitted corresponds to the way things actually are out there in the world, and when that happens the witness is true. More on the importance of this in a little bit.
So the truth is fixed, immovable, timeless and unyielding. It is an everlasting rock. It is also the case that the kind of truth that corresponds to the way things actually are is a spiritual thing. It is not made up of atoms and molecules, and has no weight, energy, or mass. Truth has no color. It has no position, or direction, or velocity. What I mean by this is that it has no material existence, which in its turn means that it is spiritual, just like reason and the laws of logic. All these things can be what they are only because they are attributes of God, partakers in the very nature of God. Our true testimony, in its turn, whatever the occasion, depends on that. If reason, truth, and logic are not grounded in the very nature of God, then everything is hopeless, everything falls apart.
The Revolt Against God
Our culture-wide acceptance of the ultimacy of blind processes, grinding away at a senseless material world, has had certain necessary and damning consequences. One of them is that the very idea of truth had to go. How would it be possible to reject the ground of all truth, and yet keep the idea of particular truths around?
In place of this missing truth, our think-leaders and grandees have decided to substitute a sorry bit of hand-waving. They want all truth to be provisional, and because they have on pragmatic grounds accepted a radical individualism, they have decreed that every individual has a right to his own truth. So they are still willing for the word truth to be used, but it has to be in a phrase like “your truth.” These privatized truths are called values, or if the person concerned is a politician caught in an gaudy situation involving cocaine and hookers, at his press conference the following Monday, he will attempt to call them his “core values.”
Everybody gets to roll their own, but once you have rolled your own, you are the one who needs to smoke it. Everyone gets their very own niche meaning. You are required to live by your truth, come hell or high water. But if you live by your truth, then—as the compact goes—everybody else will leave you alone.
That is the promise, but alas. One of the core values of this generation is that of breaking all such promises. That kind of treachery is one of the new core values. And so there some poor fellow goes, living by his very own values, which apparently included sending out some insensitive tweets ten years ago.And when they are discovered and put into play by a helpful somebody, the mob descends on him like the crazed women in The Bacchae, in order to tear him limb from limb.
There is nothing more absolute than the demeanor of relativists when they get in a frenzy.
Why the contradiction?
In order for this construct to work for them, at least on paper initially, it is necessary to banish all metaphysics. There can be no transcendental reality, overarching us all, to which we must all submit. When it comes to ultimate meaning, our entire cosmos is postulated as having an eight-foot acoustic tile ceiling, that we are all standing beneath, and that ceiling is suspended from nothing in particular. There is nothing above these tiles, and stop asking questions. Nothing holds everything up, and we thought we said no more questions.
But what happens when said transcendental realities are, you know, actually real, and yet secularists persist in denying their existence? What happens is that is that secularists continue to appeal to transcendental truths, just as all sentient creatures must do, but their paradigm requires them to persistently suppress and deny that they are in fact doing so. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness, as the apostle put it. In other words, they have an arche that they appeal to, just like everyone else does, and yet they have rendered it invisible to themselves. This is why they can continue to pretend to themselves that they are doing nothing of the kind.
This is why relativism is a delusion. There are only three kinds of people, and they are all absolutists. There are those who worship the true Absolute, the triune Absolute of Scripture, which is what the Christian does. Then there are those who have fashioned an idol, which they call absolute. This is what the Muslim does. Then there is the relativist, or should I say the sham relativist? They have fashioned an idol which functions as an absolute, but which they refuse to call absolute, because they are great believers in openness and diversity.
Take that howler from Nietzsche’s quote excerpted above. “There are no absolute truths.” If that is true, then it is false, because it brings its own counterexample with it. If it is false, it is therefore false, and we needn’t worry about it. If it is false it is false, and if it is true it is false. Because he accomplished this impressive feat, Nietzsche is considered a very great thinker, and is studied in our universities.
And you cannot fix the problem by brazening it out, by acknowledging that you have made a very convenient exception in your own case, as Paul Feyerabend once attempted. “The only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths”
Nice try Paco, but what you have actually said is that there are no “absolute truths except for mine,” which is more than sufficient to gain you premium member access to every Absolutist Club in the world. You ought to have realized by this point that this is the very same thing the Hardshell Baptists say.
When you say that relativism is true, you can sound very confident, but what you are doing is banishing absolutes out your front door, and then surreptitiously smuggling them in the back door again. And the reason you have to do this, to continue with the illustration of the house, is because truth is not an item in the house, like a couch, but more like all the floor joists, which hold the house up. If you take those out, and leave them out for more than a second, the house collapses. In fact, you have to hurry to get them into the back door before the house goes down with a crash.
But if you try to attract people to your relativistic views through an honest appeal—”relativism is the case, but I am not actually maintaining that this is the case”—you will not find yourself with many takers. That is not exactly a marching creed.
The alternative to the correspondence view of the truth is the coherence view. Does everything hang together within the framework stipulated for it? Is the story consistent? But the Christian can have none of this. If the sentence Jesus rose from the dead does not correspond to what actually happened in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, then we are all still in our sins. The possibility of our salvation hangs on the correspondence view of the truth. This is what a true witness is, and this is our witness.
Scare Tactics Instead
So what can the poor hapless secularist do? He wants a secular, liberal experiment that will build us an open society where diverse opinions and whatnot may flourish, where a thousand flowers may bloom, where rainbows may appear in the spray of every suburban lawn sprinkler, and all the bigots and haters are made to attend compulsory tolerance classes in which they all pound sand. Wouldn’t that be grand?
The pretense is that such open societies can just spring up out of everybody’s pure thoughts and intentions, and nothing ever needs to be policed. The problems are caused by those sociopaths who differ with all of this, and who therefore need to be policed. Dissenters put the lie to the idea that nothing needs to be policed. And that means the secularists cops need to police the bad guys while pretending that no actual policing is going on. All their cops are in plain clothes, and the dissenters have to be put outside the pale—they are orcs, madmen, mentally ill. They need medical treatment. They need to be fixed.
And so this is why the progressives feel constrained to slime the opposition. This is why anyone who believes in any kind of transcendental reality at all is immediately tagged as a fascist. If you believe for example, that God is good, and His will is supreme, and that He wants us to live according to the goodness of His revealed love to us, you will find some person online saying that you somehow want to gas more Jews. The reason epithets like white supremacist, fascist, authoritarian, Nazi, and so on are multiplying is precisely because the grand relativism experiment is collapsing. This is secularism’s Baghdad Bob moment. They will say absolutely anything to keep all the normal people off balance, and so far it has been working. But a moment is coming when all the normals look at one another like you do the second before a collective horse laugh erupts and dominates the rest of the evening.
They are not doing this from a sense of confidence and power. This is all driven by panic. They are seeing the return of the “strong gods,” to use R.R. Reno’s phrase for it, and they are in all of a doodah over it. And to be clear, some of these strong gods really are evil and appalling—and must be fought and resisted. This is why we must worship the true God, the living God, the God who is love itself. An open and diverse society, such as the one they have been attempting to build, is no more capable of resisting the twisted gods than a stick of warm butter can resist a hot knife. In order to resist real hatred, not the pretendy hate that the diversity-mongers talk about so much, we have to stand in love. And no, it cannot be love as each person defines it. It has to be love, and that means it must come to us from the hands of Christ.
Christ or Chaos
They have been running this play for a while. I remember back in the seventies when I was in the university, we were having a robust class discussion about major issues. This was still legal back then, and I had no fear of getting hauled off. But the argument that arose is still being used today—it was already in circulation. One girl in the class wheeled on me and said something like, “You Christians are just like the Nazis. You are so sure you right about everything. You fill the world with conflict, and you make me sick!” Something like that. The way I replied to her was that the only way you could get me to go fight Nazis is if I was sure they were wrong, and I could not be sure they were wrong unless I was sure—and I am going to use a very old-fashioned phrase here—I was right.
And in order to be sure I was right, that conviction needed to be grounded in something that was outside the world.
We continued to talk after class, and I knew she was a feminist, so I asked her why it was wrong to mistreat women. She was very bright, and knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going, and so she said that she disapproved of it as a matter of “personal preference.”
My reply was that this was really curious. I am a patriarchal Christian, one who believed every word the apostle Paul ever wrote about headship and submission in marriage. I believed that the husband is the head of his wife the way Christ is the head of the church. Wives should submit to their own husbands. And yet, I continued, I believe that to abuse women is sinful. God hates it. It is a sin in every culture, in every century, on every day of the week, and in every time of the year. God will judge it, along with all other sins on the last day, on the day of judgment. I am a patriarchal Christian and I believe that. And you are a feminist, and the most you can say is that you don’t personally like it.
So you don’t like a particular brand of cereal, and someone else does like it. You don’t like rape, and someone else does like it. How shall these things be resolved? Well, who’s bigger?
To her credit, she followed the argument completely, and her response was to say nothing and have her eyes fill up with tears. This open and diverse society that John Lennon was dreaming about in that soppy song Imagine is a charade, a fake, a fraud, a cheat, a hustle, a fast shuffle, an imposture, a scam, a hoax, a vapor.
And so I will say it again. The ephemeral gods that we have erected in the public square, the gods of openness and diversity, are in truth impotent gods. They cannot deliver what they promised to deliver to us, and instead they have only brought in societal chaos. And so I bring this testimony to you again. The moment Christ rose from the dead, which He really did do, is the moment that He laid claim to a full and complete ownership of the United States of America. We know this because He was given every nation on earth as His inheritance.
“Ask of me, And I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
Psalm 2:8 (KJV)
And that is why the choice that America faces remains before us—Christ or chaos. That is why the choice is salvation or continued judgment.