As Flannery O’Connor put it, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” But a falsehood, as Chesterton notes, is engineered precisely so that the listeners would in fact be able to stomach it. Stomachability is a design feature when it comes to a lie. Who would invent lies that nobody is going to want to believe?
But the truth simply is what it is.
This is why truth tellers are always troublemakers. And this is also why the postmodern heart loves the coherence view of truth, and detests the correspondence view of truth. The coherence view includes all those things that might be pleasant to digest, and the correspondence view encompasses the rest of the world, which is not really all that edible. It is measured by criteria other than how it might make us feel half an hour after dinner.
This is why, incidentally, C.S. Lewis is beloved by conservative American evangelicals even though he wasn’t one. He hated subjectivism, and saw that subjectivism was the portal through which every foul error makes its way into the lives of believers. It is the same portal, come to think of it, from which Rob Bell made his escape. The world is simply there, and we are the ones who must conform to it, and not the other way around.
When we conform to the world we are doing with natural revelation what God has trained us to do with special revelation. The issue for us must be “what does the Bible say?” and not “what would we like the Bible to have said?” We learn to read the world because we have been trained by the primer of the Word, and the very first lesson we must learn in order to become “men with chests” is that the right kind of sentiment rests upon an objective moral code that will not budge, however much we wheedle about it.
Here is a postmodern math problem, a story problem, for the current crop of Mark Studdocks that the government school system is busy right now shaping into that shapeless . . . you know what I mean. “There are ten redwoods on the mountainside. Loggers have come with a permit and have cut three of them down. How does this make you feel?”
This modern goo thought is capable of seeping into all kinds of surprising places. I have seen it get to places that at one time I would have said were entirely inaccessible. But denominational walls cannot keep it out. Institutions cannot save themselves with little pieces of paper called founding documents. The only thing that can spare us is truth defended at the testing point, which is to say, the need of the hour is courage.