The Absolute Truth
By Patricia Bollmann
The North American mindset is dominated by relativistic thinking, stemming from Darwin’s theory of evolution, the upheaval of the 1960s, and secular humanism.
Relativism pervades every aspect of life, including morality, ethics, and metaphysics. Without a standard to distinguish right from wrong, “values clarification” (all moral values are relative and therefore equal) has led to ethical chaos: for example, individuals and courts keep wrangling over abortion, same-sex marriage, religious rights, and the like. Because of epistemological relativity (people can “know” only their own perspective) choosing what’s “right” has morphed into a personal preference: “What is true for you may not be true for me.” People can choose virtually any value, lifestyle, or idea without censure because the only (relativistic) absolute is tolerance, the pathway to freedom and happiness for all.
Moreover, relativistic thinkers point out that religious groups cannot agree with each other about what is absolute truth, since their basis of belief is their own interpretation of Scripture and their own worldview. Since the absolute truths of these religious groups don’t correspond, none of them can really be absolute. Therefore, to relativists, all beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims are equally valid, except, of course, the beliefs that embrace absolute truths. Those people are intolerant-a violation against the only absolute!
A Barna survey reveals that 32 percent of born again Christian adults believe in moral absolutes, compared to 15 percent among non-horn again Christians. Only 9 percent of born again Christian teens believe in moral absolutes, compared to 4 percent of non-born again teens. The meager gap between these percentages is cause for concern.
The Barna study also uncovers the bases on which Christian individuals make moral decisions. Only 7 percent of Christian teenagers say they base their moral choices on biblical principles. For Christian adults, the most prevalent bases for moral decision-making are whatever outcome would produce the most personally beneficial results (10 percent), principles taught in the Bible (13 percent), values learned from their parents (15 percent), and whatever feels right or comfortable in a situation (31 percent). The lyrics of Joe Brooks’s song from the 1990s pretty much sums it up: “It can’t be wrong, when it feels so right…”
The writer of the Book of Judges said of his time, “In those days … every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). The seeds of this attitude were sown long ago, and they’re still cropping up.
An article from Got Questions Ministries offers five arguments against the relativistic statement, “There are no absolute truths.”
First, the statement is self-contradictory, since it in itself is an absolute. Second, it is illogical for humans to make negative absolute statements because their knowledge is limited. For instance, if they would claim “There is no God,” they would also have to claim absolute knowledge of the entire universe from beginning to end. Third, relativistic thinkers violate their own one and only absolute-tolerance-when they mock those who believe in absolutes, denying them the privilege they say they give to others-all ideas are equally valid.
The relativistic fallacy has implications that would prove impossible in both nature and society. For nature, the absence of even one absolute-gravity-would mess up life on earth, and the entire universe would go berserk. Nothing, including you, would stay put unless it was bolted down or strapped in. Planets and stars would zoom around willy-nilly, and that would he the end of life on earth. If planet earth strayed farther from the sun than its average distance of 93 million miles, we’d be in for some serious-and fatal-global freezing! As for society, freedom from absolutes would mean no laws; anyone could do anything they wanted without suffering any consequences. The resulting chaos would be the demise of society.
Most important, relativism has chancy, even dire, spiritual implications. Absence of absolute truth would mean human life has no purpose and death simply means non-being. Relativists relish their “freedom” from absolute truth because it excuses them from accountability. However, contrary to that tantalizing idea, the truth is that everyone is accountable for their actions. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV). Ignoring this accountability doesn’t excuse people from two final appointments: “It is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, The Amplified Bible).
The fact is that spiritual matters must be governed by absolutes, otherwise we couldn’t find the way to God and His heaven. Without absolute truths we’d wander aimlessly, as chaotic and meaningless as a planet veering out of its orbit. (See Jude 13.)
The word “religion” stems from the Latin religare “to bind together,” as two oxen in a yoke. Jesus used a yoke metaphor when He invited everyone to lay down their heavy burdens (in the context of this article, this would be like unloading an unwieldy stack of misconceptions about true liberty and absolute truth). One who does this is so relieved, that being yoked to Jesus is like getting a good rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Working while yoked with Him is not confining or grievous, as relativists would portray it. Instead, the weight of the yoke is “light” and it fits perfectly so it doesn’t chafe. Walking with Him while yoked to Him means companionship, help, comfort, encouragement, and grace. (See John 1:14, 17.)
Being yoked to Christ means being yoked to the right way, the truth, and the life, for He embodies all of these (John 14:6). Therefore, the way to discover absolute, universal truth is to be yoked with Jesus Christ in an ongoing relationship. This means purpose in life and hope in death.
Two proofs that confirm the reality of absolute truths are one’s conscience and the existence of religion.
Conscience convicts people for doing wrong and commends them for doing right. Everyone is aware of this, whether or not they acknowledge it. “The requirements of [God’s] law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:15-16, NIV). People’s consciences are like inner computers sorting and storing the right and wrong things they have done, said, felt, or thought.
Religion in various forms has existed since civilization began. People are searching for forgiveness of sins, for answers to life’s conundrums, and for meaning and hope. “Religion is really evidence that mankind is more than simply a highly evolved animal. It is evidence of a higher purpose, and … that there is … a personal and purposeful Creator. … If there is indeed a Creator, then He becomes the standard for absolute truth, and it is His authority that establishes that truth.”
Jesus embodied truth and came into the world to testify to the truth (John 18:37). He gave Himself as a one-time sacrifice for all men (Hebrews 10:10); His truth is absolute and universal. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26). Being yoked with Him means knowing truth-the Word-and being cleansed and sanctified by it (John 17:17). Knowing truth frees believers not only from sin, but also from fallacies and misconceptions (John 8:32); believers are liberated and empowered to worship in truth (John 4:24) and be led by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13).
From, “Pentecostal Herald”/February 2009/Page 24-26, by Patricia Bollmann