By Dr. John Neihof
President of Wesley Biblical Seminary – Guest Blogger
I just saw the news headlines. A former President of the United States of America, in a speech to an international audience, called for a rediscovery of objective truth. Although I seriously doubt the integrity of the challenge, if sincere, I applaud the call for objective truth.
In recent centuries, Western thought has been shaped by three lines of reasoning: science, subjectivism, and socialism. The Enlightenment gave us science with its focus upon truth, an external knowable reality, and hypothesis testing. Science advanced by forming educated guesses, or hypotheses. Then scientists gathered data, analyzed it, and drew conclusions that either supported or refuted their hypotheses. The quest was for truth.
Subjectivism gave us the study of art, literature, and culture. Subjectivism reduces truth to the individual’s perspective. Subjectivism provides insight into relationships saying that where two people’s subjectivity overlaps in a shared way, they may enjoy meaningful connection and relationship. The quest is for meaning.
Socialism reacted against science. Socialism claims that power is the only dimension that matters. Some have it. Others don’t. Power exists where the subjective claims of the intellectual elite insist it exists. This invisible group of elitists intersubjectively share in an attempt to bring about revolution to upend the social constructions of power in a culture. The quest is for social justice through revolution.
Science is agnostic about God, meaning, and justice. Subjectivism loathes truth at the price of meaning. Social justice abhors objective truth, preferring to advance its socially constructed agendas, conferring popular truth claims upon them.
We have ceased to think. We only feel. We only feel what culture tells us to feel.
The following quote may seem obscure; nevertheless, I believe it is important. WWII Germans were faithful to the Nazi agenda out of deluded duty to country. They embraced a socially constructed truth that turned out to be a lie.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Those who limit themselves to duty will never venture a free action that rests solely on their own responsibility, the only sort of action that can meet evil at its heart and overcome it. People of duty must finally fulfill their duty even to the devil.”
If science fails us, subjectivism fails us, and socialism fails us, there must be a better way to know what we know! Philosophers call the way we know anything our epistemology.
I call you to truth in the person and presence of Jesus Christ, who said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 NKJV).
In Jesus Christ there is objective truth: “You shall know the truth.” One Person is truth.
In Jesus Christ there is subjective meaning: “You shall know the truth.” This truth is personal. You can possess this truth, this reality, in relationship to a living Person, Jesus Christ.
In Jesus Christ, there is social transformation. “The truth shall make you free.” The transformation that Jesus Christ brings is not one of constantly shifting, politically correct, social justice. The transformation that Jesus Christ brings is one of social holiness in which you are transformed spiritually, personally, relationally, culturally, and socially. You become a person of peace, joy, and love in Him.
All epistemology collapses in one Person, Jesus Christ. He is the Holy Spirit conceived, virgin born, holy, crucified, resurrected, ascended, and coming Lord of Lords! You are a free moral agent with rational choice. Choose Jesus Christ. Choose truth. Choose action. Choose to do that which is morally right and good.