Posts tagged Truth

Apologetic Wednesday: The Death of Words

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Death of wordsHave you ever paused to consider the importance of words? We take them for granted, don’t we? Thousands of words pour out of our mouths on a daily basis. Sometimes they are well crafted and seasoned, while other times they are impulsive and frivolous. The use of language plays an immensely important role in our daily lives.

Language flows out from God. The world was brought into existence by divine fiat through the spoken word of God.  The Genesis account repeatedly says, “Then God said.” Whatever God spoke came springing into existence. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Later, the Word, the second member of the Trinity, would become flesh and walk among us. The Good News itself is communicated to us through language. Words are the vehicle for understanding and communicating truth.

Yet, in our postmodern times, the deconstruction of language is one of the greatest ways that truth, good, and morality have come under attack. In fact, the dismantling of language is the hallmark of the postmodern worldview. We are told truth can’t be known and words carry no meaning. Mankind has used language in attempt to eradicate God, personal moral culpability, and attain autonomy and sovereignty over his own life.

Think about the ways language is twisted, distorted, and mutilated in attempt to redefine morality. Think about the ways people use language as a means to mask their agenda and motives. Hitler was a very skilled lingual craftsman. Government has used language as a tool for manipulating people throughout history.  For example, taxes are redefined as “sacrifice” and health care a “universal crisis.” Hitler redefined murder as “ethnic cleansing” and it was justified as being a “health issue” for the rest of mankind. Words are powerful and they help define the way we think about ideas.

What about morality? The twisting of words is commonplace here. Suicide has become “death with dignity.” Murder is simply “a woman’s right to autonomy” or “terminating a pregnancy.” Prostitutes are “sex care providers”. Homosexuality is “an alternative lifestyle” or “being true to who one is.” Pornography is labeled as “adult entertainment” or is said to be “provocative.” Sex outside of marriage is always called “an act of love.” My, how language can be sanitized to mask mankind’s moral transgressions. We have become good at twisted words.

Under Sharia law murder is called an “honor killing.” Terrorists are often called “freedom fighters.” Illegal aliens are now “undocumented residents.” The cavalier teaching in many universities is redefined as “academic freedom.” The trend in culture to replace the sacred with the secular is called “democratic liberalism.” Even the atheists now want to be called “brights”. We have become good with toying with the meaning of words.

It was G.K. Chesterton that once said, “When somebody wishes to wage a social war against what all normal people have regarded as a social decency, the very first thing he does is to find some artificial term that shall sound relatively decent.” He captures the spirit of our day remarkably well. Truth itself is under an attack and is being murdered under the knives of our words.

People no longer use the word “sin”. It has become obsolete as well. Instead of sinning, people make “mistakes.” We are no longer sinners, simply “mistakers.” If we are no longer sinners, then we no longer have anyone to answer to. We have become our own God. Sin itself has become sanitized in attempt to free ourselves from answering to a higher power. But surely deep down we know that a mistake is forgetting to pick up that item from the grocery store, not carrying the one when handling numbers, or knocking the vase of the counter. Sin is our moral transgressions. Sin is what we do wrong. Sin is all the evil we act upon which ultimately ends in death.

The Christian must be honest. We must call things what they are. A spade must be called a spade. Sin must be called sin. We must be honest in our use of words. We must speak truth in the context of love. We must look in our own lives and not attempt to sanitize the most hideous facets of our sinful nature. Instead of trying to deny the problem, as Adam and Eve did when they covered their naked bodies with leaves, we must look to Christ to cover our sin with His blood.

We must also be reminded that another attack on language involves those that say “words have no meaning.” That is, words don’t carry their own meaning. Instead we give meaning to words. In this sense, language becomes pointless.

I was recently watching a question and answer session with a well-known academic. He has published extensively and has had several best selling books. He stated that, “Words don’t mean anything, people ascribe their own meaning to words. Truth is thus unknowable.” Then someone with some sense in the audience asked, “Then why should we buy your books if truth is unknowable and words don’t carry any meaning. What could they possibly tell us?” That is the price my fine, academic friend. Your words have killed your very argument.

Words have meaning. We don’t get the luxury of defining words in a way that is convenient for us. Language carries with it an original meaning whether we understand it or not. Scripture communicates truth to us. The original author is presenting a specific meaning. The author transmits the meaning. It is not the reader that applies his own meaning to the text.

When we attempt to deconstruct language and reconstruct it in ways that suits ourselves, we do so at a price. We are paying the price now socially, morally, and spiritually. We have torn down moral fences without giving pause to ask why they were put there in the first place.

Words have meaning. Let us not toy with them. The Christian must stand firm on truth.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Who Cares What You Know?

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who caresFor the Christian, Apologetics is a necessity.  In the pluralistic, hodge-podge-of-beliefs culture that we live in, one must always be ready with an answer. The Christian is ever presented with ideas that attempt to challenge the credibility of theism or cast Christianity in a disparaging light. Indeed, to say that apologetics is important would be an understatement. It does much to bolster the faith of the believer, while empowering them to share their faith. It also serves as pre-evangelism because it tears down false ideas that might obstruct the truth in someone’s mind.

Granted, some believers feel a greater calling to invest themselves more heavily when it comes to defending the Christian faith, but all believers should be prepared to give an adequate defense of their faith in Christ, theologically, historically, and philosophically. If one cannot articulate and defend their own beliefs, it places them on uneven, or even shifting, ground when it comes to sharing their faith with others.  Worse, their own faith may be shaken when presented with evidence by skeptics or when life deals them something unsettling.

Yet, when it comes to developing one’s defense it is easy to be lazy. Giving a strong apologetic requires much study, thought, and discussion. I think we can all say that it is easy to be lazy in this area. Yet, thankfully, many Christians rigorously devote themselves to defending the truth of Christianity. It is here, that we need to be reminded that the hard working apologist that is diligent to study can also find himself being lazy, relationally lazy.

Sometimes, it is hard to find the balance. Apologetics is not just a cognitive endeavor; it is intended to be a highly relational pursuit. The idea behind apologetics is to know truth, understand that truth to one’s best capacity, grow in the faith (both intellectually and experientially), build  close relationships with others, and present that truth to them within the context of that relationship.

In many ways, Christianity has gotten relationally sloppy. We make evangelism a cognitive exercise. “Just present the truth.” “If they don’t like the truth that is there problem.” “They just don’t want to hear the truth.” These sorts of phrases smack of laziness. Sure, sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, but it is bearable, even if disagreeable, within the context of a close relationship. Within apologetics, one is forced to walk a tightrope between truth and love. We are reminded in Ephesians 4:15 to present truth, coupled with love. Truth and love are inextricably linked together and find their ultimate expression within the confines of close relationships with the people around us.

The apologist will find that his efforts yield meager results outside of sharing truth with love within close relationships.  As a matter of fact, 71% of individuals who come to know Christ say that it was due to the efforts of an individual, and less than .05% came to know Christ through tracts, radio, or television. We cannot strictly make apologetics a cognitive endeavor and marginalize the relational significance.

The apologist has much to overcome if he wants the precious truth of Christianity to be heard. In 1996, 15% of unbelievers said they had a bad impression of Christianity. In 2007, those who viewed Christianity unfavorably leaped to 38%! That is a tremendously large shift in just 10 years!

We should note that 85% of non-church goers view Christianity as hypocritical while, get this, of people that do go to church, 47% say they believe Christianity is hypocritical! Only 20% of non-Christians believe that churches are loving environments, while less than 50% of church goers believe their church demonstrates unconditional love! This is a problem!

No one will listen to our truth unless they first see our love lived out daily in their lives. As Christians, and apologists, we have a lot to overcome before the truth even gets a hearing. And it is interesting, because people never had a problem with Jesus’ attitude or behavior, but there were certainly those who had a problem with his teachings and convictions. Today, there are those that resist Christianity due to the moral limitations it places on their lives, but I dare say a great many people push back due to the attitude and behavior of the Christian! Is it possible that Christianity needs an attitude adjustment and a reminder that Christianity is relational to its very core?

Here we should again look to the Apostle Paul. He writes in the familiar I Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in the tonguesof men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We may be well versed in scripture, be familiar with the right questions, and have our philosophy perfectly logically valid, but if we don’t have love for other people then we are just making noise. If we aren’t seriously investing into the lives of people around us we are just making a sound.

A cymbal sounds wonderful when crafted into a drum solo or song, but played repeatedly by itself it becomes increasingly annoying. As Christians, if our truth isn’t crafted into the context of strong relationships and presented with love, then we become annoying and affirm what many say about Christianity. That is a tragedy.

We must walk the tightrope well. Apologetics is certainly highly cognitive, but it is also incredibly relational! People will not care what we know until they legitimately believe that we care. Invest in people and speak the truth in love.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Quotable Quotes

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Christian Quotes_Truth_Blaise Pascal

Apologetic Wednesday: Many Paths to God?

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Six blind gurus approach an elephant and each describes what they experience. The first feels the tusk and believes it to be a spear. One holds the tail, thinking it is a rope. Another feels the side, assuming it is a wall. Another guru leans against a leg and states it is a tree with strange bark. One is frightened upon feeling the trunk and thinks it is a snake. The last one grabs an ear and believes it is a fan.

The six gurus experience the same object differently. Each interprets what they experienced in their own way. Some make the assertion that maybe we experience the same reality differently, just as these gurus did. They would have us believe that the Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu all experience God in their own unique way. All roads up the mountain lead to the same peak. All religions are basically the same.

Can this way of thinking be true? As a basic level, many differing religions and worldviews appear to be similar. Many promote love, worship, and selflessness, but as one digs deeper any similarities quickly dissolve.  One notices fast that there are competing claims for truth that contradict one another. The different statements across the world’s religions fall into great contradiction. They all view God differently. Christianity teaches that God is eternal and personal. Hinduism embraces pantheism and states that everything is god and god is everything. Buddhism teaches that reality is nothingness and there is no god.

Christianity teaches that Jesus was God in flesh, Islam teaches that He was a prophet, and Hinduism simply incorporates Him into their pantheon of millions of gods. Each religion says something different about salvation or enlightenment, afterlife, the nature of God, sin, evil, suffering, etc.

One must be willing to commit intellectual suicide to embrace the idea that all religions are fundamentally the same. To posit this idea is an injustice to all religions because it shows how little one has studied the beliefs of each. This plurality of belief gets knocked down by the Law of Noncontradiction (something cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same context) every single time. This is simply how the furniture of the universe is arranged, and it cannot be avoided.

Now, one might concede that it is possible for all religions to be wrong, but they certainly cannot all be right. This is why it is incredibly important to seek truth and see where the preponderance of evidence lies. I firmly believe that it is Christianity that best corresponds with reality when one examines the evidence across the many different disciplines of study.

The blind gurus should not have been so quick to make assumptions. They should have stepped back, explored further, and tested the way they interpreted reality. Their assumptions actually lead them to a false belief. Had they continued to seek the truth they would have realized the greater truth instead of settling on their initial understanding.

Jesus claimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He left no room open for other paths to God. Either you accept the way that Christ offers or you don’t.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Apologetic Wednesday: Feet Firmly Planted In Mid-Air

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Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? It is truly awe inspiring. When I visited several years ago, I was amazed at its vastness. I enjoyed the scenic view comfortably several feet from the ledge. I had no intention of pulling a “Wiley Coyote” and plummeting to my death (You know the scene. Wiley Coyote walks off a ledge, a long whistle sounds as he plummets, you hear a smack, and a little dust mushroom cloud pops up).

Not long after I visited the Grand Canyon, they constructed the Sky Walk Glass Bridge. It is a clear bridge that extends 70 feet over the canyon itself. You can walk off the ledge and see straight down into the canyon. This could have saved poor Wiley Coyote many a painful fall.

This is the only place where you can walk off of a cliff and stand upright. Why? Because there is something there to support you. That is completely intuitive. People don’t walk off of cliffs expecting to keep their feet firmly planted in mid-air. You only walk off a cliff if you have a death wish.

While this is intuitive in the physical world, it is not always so when it comes to ideas. People make statements and hold to ideas that are the equivalence of walking off a cliff, that is, there is nothing to support the statement that they make. These are called self-defeating statements. They are called such because they do not conform to their own standards.

Some people say things like, “There is no truth.” “All truth is relative.” “You can’t know the truth.” “There are no truths that cannot be verified by Science.” “My truth is for me, and your truth is for you.” We hear statements like this all the time. Do you see the problem with statements like this? They are completely self-defeating.

Let’s look at some other practical examples. If I were to say in fluent English, “I can’t speak a word of English” that statement self-destructs, because I spoke it in English. What about if I tried to tell you that I don’t exist? Would you buy that? Of course not! I am the one making the argument that I don’t exist. People out of existence don’t argue, they don’t talk at all.

Statements like these violate the Law of Noncontradiction, which says that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same context. You cannot escape the Law of Noncontradiction. You can’t deny the Law of Noncontradiction without actually affirming it.

So when someone says, “There is no truth.” We might ask, “Is it true that there is no truth?” If a person states, “You can’t know truth.” We can inquire, “Is it true that you can’t know truth?” What about the idea that there are no truths that cannot be verified by science? Well, science cannot verify the truth of that statement. Can truth be relative? When a person says, “My truth is mine and your truth is yours” we can simply ask if that is true for everyone. One cannot appeal to a universal truth to promote a relative idea. It self-destructs.

Norm Geisler and Frank Turek call spotting self-defeating statements such as these the “Road Runner Tactic.” Again, we are quite familiar with the Road Runner and Wiley Coyote. The Road Runner would run full speed, stop just before a cliff, Wiley Coyote would run off the cliff, realize he was supported by nothing, and then plummet to the ground. This is exactly what many people do today. They hold ideas and make statements that cannot support themselves and they plunge to the ground and fall flat.

As Christians, we believe that there is universal truth that applies to everyone. So we should seek to find out what the truth is and live by it because ideas have consequences. What we believe and the decisions we make all have consequences that reach into eternity.

Be on the lookout for self-defeating statements. Enlist the help of the Road Runner Tactic. Absolute truth can be found, it is knowable, and we can find it in God’s word.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

What self-defeating statements have you spotted? Watch a little Oprah if you need a place to look.

Apologetic Wednesday: College, Questions, Doubt, and Truth

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When I first entered college, I was opened up to a great many new ideas. Questions I had never even thought to ask were posed to me. New worldviews I had never considered were showcased. Christianity was presented in ways that were foreign to me. I heard discussions about how people approach Christianity differently and interpret scripture in contrasting ways. I had entered a Christian college, and yet a flood of new ideas competed for a place of acceptance within my worldview. There is no place that challenges a person’s beliefs more than the university campus.

Going into college, I had questions about my faith that I was uncomfortable with. At this point in time, I had never heard of apologetics. I would discuss things with people and search for answers the best I could. At one point, I remember just suppressing the questions in my mind. I grew weary of wrestling with questions I couldn’t answer. I remember a friend describing to me that one of his friends decided to walk away from Christianity. I worried what would happen if eventually I was presented with an argument against my faith that I could not account for, so I tried to force the questions out of my mind. I think a lot of Christians do this (and not just Christians, but people from all stripes). The problem is, when we suppress questions that are extremely important to the cogency of what we believe it creates anxiety and cognitive dissonance.  Due to the anxiety and dissonance, the questions keep working their way to the surface, demanding answers.

I remember one day, feeling very pressed for certain answers. I decided that I had to seek truth, and be comfortable with following wherever truth lead me. I started talking to people about my struggles. I started looking for books that would give me understanding. Early on, I felt there were some conflicts between my faith and science. I approached a biology professor about some of my questions, and she equipped me with a strong apologetic early on. She reminded me that Science remains in a state of flux, but God is consistently God. She pointed out that we need to search for truth and seek answers, but that when we follow truth ultimately it always leads back to God. This relieved my mind some, and bolstered my confidence to find answers.

So from that day forward, I started challenging my beliefs and seeking answers to my questions. Looking back, many of my questions at that time were extremely naïve, but they were a big deal to me at the time. I found books that presented massive amounts of information. Sometimes I found answers to questions I was yet to ask, and sometimes my search for answers led me to more questions.

Over the years, certain beliefs have changed in light of new and convincing evidence. Other beliefs have solidified as I was presented evidence that was very supportive of what I believed. It has been a wonderful journey of faith, doubt, questioning, learning, and finding answers. I am so thankful that I started asking questions and looking for truth regardless of where it brought me.

I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, a big part of apologetics is knowledge driven. Debates wage back and forth. People search for answers. Books are read. Journal articles are scoured. Lectures are listened to. Books are written. Blogs are posted. Apologetics is steeped in academia and cuts across a great many fields including, but not limited to, theology, science, ethics, philosophy, etc. A mistake the apologist often makes is focusing only on this side of apologetics. We must balance the intellectual side with the personal touch. My professor took time to listen to my concerns, share her own perspective, encourage me, and point me in the right direction. We must remember to express love and give of ourselves when it comes to giving an answer for the hope that is within us. Our lives should also reflect what we proclaim to believe. We can be scholarly and present wonderful arguments for what we believe, but if we do not do so out of a heart of love we are not accomplishing anything. We become as the apostle Paul says, nothing more than a clanging symbol. As Gypsy Smith so eloquently stated, There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.” The message must be seen in the apologists’ life before it is heard.

The second reason I share this story is to assert that we never come to a point where all of our questions are answered. I have found answers to a great many questions that I have had throughout the years, but there are some that will probably elude me until eternity. We have to be alright with not having all the answers. No worldview provides answers for every single question in a fully satisfactory way.

Apologetics is about giving the reason for our hope, and showing that Christianity has a prominent place in the marketplace of ideas, all the while exhibiting the love extended to us by Christ. For those moments where we arrive at a wall in our understanding or having our questions answered, we continue to look for truth. We pray for understanding. But most importantly, this is where the faith comes in. A certain amount of faith must be present for any belief system to operate.

We seek truth. We continue to look for answers. We rest on faith. We look at God’s faithfulness in the past and we trust Him with our future. We share the reason for what we believe and point to God’s love, mercy, and goodness. We give strong arguments for the hope that is within us.

Let’s not forget the personal side of apologetics, and let’s remember that not every question can be answered fully. One day all will be revealed. In the meantime lets seek truth and love people.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. – John 14:6

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Read This Blog and Get Three Million Dollars

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Okay, full disclosure right at the outset. You won’t get three million dollars from reading this blog, but it grabbed your attention, right? Maybe it even gave you warm feelings for a few minutes. Perhaps you even thought of all the things you could do with three million dollars. It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

The truth is, just reading this blog won’t make you copious amounts of cash. But, I am here to tell you that by simply following Christ, and doing it well, you could become very wealthy. Wait, that isn’t right either. Maybe you should just try working hard and spending less. I think that is your best bet.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion about a certain pastor whom I shall refer to as “him that shall not be named.” He pastors one of the supposedly largest and fastest growing churches in America. Seven million Americans tune in to gobble up his sermons each week. I am sure he is a nice chap. He has a wonderful smile, very white and symmetrical teeth. I like that.

“He who shall not be named” is very encouraging and positive. I love positive people. We need that in a world full of problems. He likes to toss around pithy phrases like “you can have your best life now”, “every day can be a Friday”, “God wants you to be independently wealthy”, and “you are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggonit, people like you.” Okay, maybe he doesn’t say all those things, but you get my drift. (Have I mentioned that I love positive people and positive thinking?)

The only problem is, “He who shall not be named” doesn’t care much for talking about the negative stuff. Sin? That’s yucky! People just make mistakes. Hell? Wait a cotton-pickin minute, that is a four letter word my friend. Jesus? He has many faces and can appear to people through many different avenues. Let’s not get exclusive. Okay? Let’s just point out the positives about Christianity. Why even focus on the negatives?

So what is wrong with this approach? Much. For starters, it’s a dilution of Christianity’s Gospel message. Before one can address sin and come to Christ, they first have to realize they are a sinner and deal with the sin. Yes, God’s love and grace should be highlighted. It should be screamed from rooftops and emblazoned with neon lights. But, God loves us enough to tell us we have a problem that we are incapable of fixing called sin. In fact, God says we are dead in our sins. To only speak of God in the positive and gloss over humanity’s problems and consequences cheapens the Gospel.

Trials are a part of the Christian life. It is unavoidable. If successful Christian living means wealth, health, and having no problems, then the Apostle Paul must have been one lousy Christian. He did without a lot, was snake bitten, shipwrecked, stoned, beat within inches of his life, and ultimately executed. In fact, Jesus taught the believer to expect trials. The good news is, we can find happiness, peace, joy, and perseverance in Christ during the midst of hardship and suffering. This doesn’t necessarily include gobs of money, fine dining, and having a Friday feeling on Monday morning.  C.S. Lewis stated that God even uses the trials to a greater extent in our lives than the pleasurable times to grow us, but what did he know?

When people are promised wealth and smooth sailing for following Christ and this doesn’t come to fruition, then there is ample room for disappointment, disillusionment , and doubt.  Contrary to the old adage, what we don’t know can, in fact, hurt us. Getting false or one-sided information about Christianity has present and eternal ramifications.

I am all for sharing encouragement, positivity, love, grace, and forgiveness, but both sides of the coin must be examined. There are many situations that positive thinking will not help us avoid, no matter how much we would like to believe it. Jesus loved people enough to tell them the absolute truth, both good and bad.

Speaking into the lives of people on a weekly basis is a huge responsibility, especially when that count is in the millions. Let’s love others enough to speak truth in love.

Walk good. Love wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Let’s talk about it:
1. What would you do with three million dollars?
2. How do you feel about a sugar coated message?

Can My Truth Be Different From Yours?

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Recently, I was having a discussion with several individuals about our belief systems. Some of us had similar beliefs, while others held divergent worldviews. During the discussion one person stated, “Well, that may be true for you, but it isn’t for me.” He was asserting that my reality or truth was different than his.

Is it possible for people to hold differing truths and both be correct? Can something be true for you and not for me? Many people will tell us this is perfectly rational, and not to mention accepting and inclusive. This is known as relativism. The ideology behind relativism is that people can hold two opposing beliefs and both be correct. While that is a nice sentiment, it does not conform to reality.

If I believe it’s perfectly healthy to drink cyanide, and you believe it will kill me, does that mean I will live? If I believe that $50+$50=$1,000, will my bank be okay with that math? If I believe extra-marital relationships are healthy, and my wife says they are detrimental to a marriage, will it be okay if I cheat on my wife? I can certainly guarantee you that she won’t think so. When it comes to truth, there can simply be only one reality. Truth is determined not by opinion, but instead by what is an accurate reflection of reality.

When it comes to Christianity, I do not adhere to it simply because “it works for me.” I do not accept the teachings of Christ because I think they are a good version of the truth. I affirm Christianity because I think it is an accurate expression of what is real.

Relativism, or the belief that two opposing beliefs can both be true, is self contradictory. A relativist will tell you that there is no objective truth that applies to everyone. What is the problem with that statement? The relativist has just made an objective statement about truth saying there is no objective truth. So basically, what he just said is meaningless.  He is saying that it is true there is no truth. Relativism is broken from the start. Something is true for everyone or it is true for no one.

What I have noticed about people who hold to the idea that truth is relative, or that truth is different for various people, is that they are selective in applying it. They don’t question the Theory of Gravity, the boiling point of water, mathematical equations, or musical scales. Instead, they apply their relative perspective on matters of God’s existence, issues of morality, religion, and ethical practices. As an experiment, the next time someone says that truth is relative, try stealing their car. Just tell them, “Stealing is only wrong according to your worldview, it is perfectly acceptable in mine” and see how they react. (Don’t really steal their car, that was just for an example. You have to clarify these things you know.) Relativists seem to lose their “no objective truth” mentality when their rights are impinged upon.

So why do some hold to the idea that truth is relative? Because it allows them to live exactly as they please. It frees them to be in control of their own lives without answering to anyone. They are disentangled from the demands and consequences of God. They are no longer constrained by morality and can do what they desire.

The problem is, whether one concedes to truth or not, it will eventually catch up with them. Truth is truth, regardless of whether or not we choose to accept it. In his recent book How Do You Kill 11 Million People, Andy Andrews makes this statement, “If it is correct that ‘you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free’ then is it possible that if you don’t know the truth, its absence is bondage?” I believe this is a resounding yes. When we don’t know the truth, or refuse to find or accept the truth, we live in bondage.

There is one truth. It reflects what is real. Look for it. Heed it. Live by it. Overthrow the bondage of living in its absence. There are millions of competing ideas, but only one can be right. Test the claims people make. Do they hold up when they are set before reality? Examine all claims closely!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” II Corinthians 10:4-5

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.

Josh

Apologetic Wednesday: Philosophy According to the Black Eyed Peas

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One thing I love about my family is the joy that resides within our home, as well as how that joy spontaneously erupts at unexpected times. In the Fults’ house, we often have impromptu dance sessions. Our son, Hayden, loves these times. For him to dance, and see mom and dad jointly involved in the stilted choreography brings his little heart delight.

Our most recent dance party was the result of an infectious song by, none other than, the Black Eyed Peas, entitled “Where Is the Love?”. I had only heard this song a few times before, but as we danced I also listened to the words. I have a habit of paying attention to what people are communicating and remembering lyrics is somewhat second nature to me. As I listened, amidst our spinning and bouncing, I was really taken back by a profound truth in the song. If you will permit me, I’d like to share with you some philosophy according to the Black Eyed Peas. I think reading a few selected portion of the lyrics will be worth the few seconds it takes.

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity

A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love

There is a tremendous amount of insight packed into this song, but that last line is quite telling. “If you never know truth, then you never know love. Love has meaning when it is grounded in the presence of truth. This is how God loves us, in truth. Scripture reminds us that God is love, and Jesus also affirms that He is the Truth. The two cannot be separated, for without truth there can be no love.

God loves us enough to let us know our hearts are desperately wicked. He loves us enough to not leave us in ignorance about who we are, depraved individuals. He sees in our hearts the wrong that we, at times, deny, and points it out. Sometimes, the truth is offensive, but He cares enough to communicate it to us through love because our best interest is His motivation.

Truth without love is abrasive and condemning. Love without truth is not really love at all, it is merely flattery. Love and truth most coexist, or they become useless.

Are we loving others in conjunction with truth? Are we speaking truth with humility and love? Let’s speak what we know to be true. Why? Because there are many people that need to hear truth motivated out of our love. Fight for truth, but make love your weapon.

“The truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

A Dirty Christian Word

5

I use to know a guy that cleaned port-o-potty’s for a living (sounds like a glamorous job right?). Every few days he had to hose these portable poop-stops out. One thing he noticed while cleaning them out was a substantial amount of vitamins in the bottom. People would take their gel coated one a day’s, and they would slip right trough them completely intact. Sometimes, the exact thing happens with our beliefs. We simply swallow them without ever considering the validity of those beliefs. Then one day something comes along that calls our beliefs into question, and our worldview comes into serious doubt.

In the Christian community, sometimes “doubt” is considered a dirty word. “You are doubting? You better check yourself? Do you even know God?” I believe this is problematic. Instead of encouraging people to examine what they believe and get answers for their doubt, they are often told to stuff their doubts down and ignore them. Overtime, these doubts build up, a crisis occurs, and their faith cannot weather the gale force winds. Beliefs that are never questioned or examined tend to be shallow. Sometimes, doubt is what drives one’s roots deeper and deeper into solid ground.

I have had conversations with people who lost their faith in God. I have met some who read something, and it casts doubt in their minds about God or His existence. I have seen others question God due to events that happened in their lives. They question God’s goodness, His plans for them, or His provision. I have had seasons of doubt myself. What should we do as believer’s when we question? Seek truth. Always seek truth. When we are willing to follow the truth wherever it leads, I believe it will always lead us back to God. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) When we seek truth. When we look for answers to questions. When we weather through a dark night of the soul. We will find God, because He is truth.

We must remember that without doubt, there could be no faith. Faith and doubt coexist in a strange dance. Doubt can actually strengthen our faith. Ever single time I have asked hard questions and looked for answers my relationship with God has always been strengthened.

One day, we will no longer have to be subjected to bouts of doubt. One day we will see Jesus face to face. There will be complete certainty. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Corinthians 13:12)

So how does God view our doubt? Is He disgusted that we could ever doubt His provision, presence, existence, or goodness? I think we can find an example in scripture as to God’s response in our periods of doubt. Remember Thomas? He had a doubt problem. So much that he got the nickname “doubting Thomas”. He did not believe in Jesus’ resurrection even though his cohorts testified to its happening. How did Jesus respond to Thomas? Did He berate or humiliate him? No, He simply said come, look, believe. God is gracious in our periods off doubt. You doubt? Come. Look. Believe. Seek truth, always.

If our faith is true, it can certainly handle our doubts. Sometimes doubt can even help us gain a correct understanding of life, God, and scripture. Because at times our beliefs are incorrect and need to be challenged so we can come to a correct understanding of who God really is.

Certainly, if we are constantly doubting there could be a deeper problem. I have met people that want every single question answered before they will commit to a belief in Christ. We may never have every question answered because we see through the glass darkly. Yet, we can have the important questions answered.

Have doubts? Seek truth. Always seek truth. God commands us to do so, and if we are honestly seeking the truth, we will find it.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

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