"Whats true for you is true for you, and if it works - that's okay."
This is a statement we all hear too often in our day and time, and it is a statement, I would argue, that was introduced right in the garden, and it's legacy has continued especially in postmodern, post-truth world we live in today.
"A post-modern world?"
I first heard this term and its implication in university from one of my lecturers and we delved into the subject of "reality". What was shocking to me was as he was talking, I could see exactly what he was talking about, and yet I had never thought of it in those terms - that it was a thing, and in essence a way of thinking in our times, that has huge implication on so many things.
Postmodernism, as a way of thinking, evolved as a reaction to modernism. And at its most basic definition, it holds that reality and truth cannot be known nor can it be described objectively.
From an intellectual point of view, postmodernism begins to perceive the reality in a new way - it does not accept any definite description about anything. Of course, some of the thinkers we were introduced to in class included the likes of F. Nietzsche, L. Wittgenstein, Karl Popper, Baudrillard and Thomas Kuhn. According to these scholars and other contemporary post-modernists, apparent realities are only social constructs and thereby these are not static but subject to change as humanity sees fit and "evolves". They pretty much believes that for the formation of ideas and belief, the role of language, power, relations and motivations are immense. In this sense, truth is then a culturally embedded, localised, social construction without any universal application or authority.
Now, this can sound all too far fetched but the fact of the matter is, this thinking of the age is way more pervasive than most of can ever imagine.
Right here, right now, as I type this, I have tonnes of memories of conversations I have had both online, and also in person with people who absolutely do not believe that there can ever be truth, or in their terms, "a single way of seeing things". And this has huge implications as we set out to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations.
University was also the first place where I encountered the idea of relative truth.
"Bruce, you have your own beliefs, and I have my own. I respect what you think, and I just see it differently", I remember one precious friend say to me back then. We had been talking about all things from marriage, politics, education and social structures. I wish it was the last time I heard this but it is not.
My thinking, which I am open to be corrected, is that during the modern-era, the time before the post-modern era, Christians of that time had to think about how to apply the gospel into people's lives or present it even in the first place, differently than we have to think about in 2018. See, during the modern era (some would say from around the late 15th century till the beginning of the post-modern era, around late 1940s), they assumed that there is an objective world around us and this world is not chaos but running in an orderly manner. They believed that there are laws of nature that are manifested in different ways and we, the rational beings, according to one writer, "are able to understand and discern these natural laws. They also believe that by discovering and utilising these laws human beings are capable to fulfil their needs."
This is obviously closer to a biblical view of the world that the post-modern view.
So, in a way, I would assume Christians in this day did not have to deal with the battle of relative truth versus objective truth that we have to deal with today, with the postmodern spirit of the age. With the battles in our world about sexuality, abortion and racism, we actually have to find ourselves having to explain that it is not you and I who define what truth actually is, but that the Sovereign Lord, our God, who created the heavens and earth and all that is in them. He is the one who assigns reality and truth.
The issue here is simply this: it is either human beings are sovereign beings, that is, they are self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-governing - hence they can do whatever they "think is right" or what they "feel is right", or that human beings are indeed subjects to a Superior Being, who determines what truth actually is, and leads them to enjoy the fullness of life through leading them onto the path of attaining this joy.
We cannot have both. We are the boss. Or Somebody else is.
IT STARTED IN THE GARDEN
"Did God really say..." asked the serpent.
This was a question of authority and a challenge to an objective and absolute truth. Remember what the serpent says to Eve?
"You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
Look at this closely with me. The serpent is essentially saying to Eve:
a. God didnt actually really mean what he said (Did God really say)
b. There wont be any consequence to you doing the opposite (You shall surely not die)
c. God is blocking your full potential - He knows if you do this you will be able to determine your own destiny and be your own boss, like him and you will make your own rules (you will be like God, knowing good and evil)
And I would suggest that anyone who disagrees with the Bible's teachings today is really believing any of these three things that I listed above. This is how I would simply it for us.
Did God really say...?
Did He really say that Jesus is the only way to salvation?
Did He really say that all humanity are made in His image?
Did He really place intrinsic value on life?
Did He really set out roles for men and women in the home and in the Church?
Did He really only preserve the marriage relationship for men and women?
This has no consequences...
How can a loving God send people to hell?
As long as you are sincere, you can do anything you want.
I mean, this race is less inferior and God created things this way and they will not be any consequences to our actions.
I mean, is it really a baby? It is just a bunch of cells, and I do not want the inconvenience. It's okay. There won't be any consequences. All I wanted some some sex and fun, not a child.
God is blocking your enjoyment and fullest potential...
I mean, this is who I am. This is how he made me! What else does He expect me to do?
It is love and love is a beautiful thing to see - it does not hurt anyone.
This baby will be an inconvenience, I would rather get rid of it so i enjoy my life.
No sex before marriage? Never! I am going to do what I want and enjoy my life. I know better than God.
THE FOLLY OF POST-MODERN THINKING
Here is what i think is the folly of post-modern thinking: its skepticism to objective truth is selectively applicable.
For example, I am sure people who say truth is relative would never want to go to a Driving School where the Instructor tells them that they can determine their reality. If they wanna use the break as the clutch, up to them. If they want the green light to mean "Prepare to Stop", and the red one to mean "Go", its all up to them. Its all up to how they feel. No, there is reality and truth which is absolute and objective.
What if they were on a plane being driven by a pilot who viewed truth and reality as relative. He used the take-off speed he feels like using, and not those relative to the motion of the air. And although during the climb, an air-craft has to increase the lift of wings supporting the aircraft until their lifting force exceeds the weight of the aircraft, this pilot has the choice to just go with whatever he wants. How about that for a pilot? How about that for a teacher for your kids?
Truth is objective. In fact, when we look at any governing authorities in the world, they are an imperfect reflection of the Sovereign Ruler God.
If mundane human subjects like physics, chemistry, education, language, the internet, electronics and climatology have objective reality, what more complex human issues like their spirituality and being? It is a weird game that folks ply today where they have selective application of their relative reality.
The Giver of life is the one who gives the reality and truth about it.
The Creator of the world is one who gives reality and truth about it
The Author of "reality" is the only one who can truthfully interpret it for us!
And thank God that He did, through His word, and you and I can see what He thinks about this or that.
"If what's true for you is true for you, and what's true for me is true for me, what if my truth says yours is a lie. Is it truth?"
Come on y'all. Think more deeply about these things.