Why Truth Still Matters
by Sean McDowell
How should church leaders respond to the battle about truth raging in our culture today?
Not too long ago my students shared with me about a “freethinking” club that had sprung up in the public high school across town. In an attempt to reach out to these skeptical students, we invited them to come over to my classroom for a few hours to discuss the God question. At the end of the discussion one of the freethinking students made a statement increasingly common today. He said, “Why can’t we both be right? Maybe your views are true for you and ours are true for us.”
This young man echoed a pervasive belief in our relativistic culture, namely, that truth is irrelevant to matters of religion. What matters is personal belief. This may be why 80 percent of Americans believe people of other religions can go to heaven (Newsweek, September 27, 2010, p. 27).
In our secular culture religion and morality have been relegated to the category of subjective preference rather than objective truth. Truth is considered less important than how something makes us feel. We can always find a study or website to back up what we want to be true, whether or not it really is. Stephen Colbert popularized this sentiment by introducing the word “truthiness” on The Colbert Report in 2005. The idea behind “truthiness” is that actual facts are irrelevant. What matters is how we feel since people, not reality, are the final arbiters of truth.
How should we respond to this confusion? Should we stop proclaiming Jesus as the truth? In his insightful book Christ Among the Dragons, pastor James White shares what is at stake, “But what do we mean by truth? If we, as Christians, cannot determine the answer to that question, all is lost, for the heart of our faith is the proclamation of the One who is not simply that way or the life, but the truth” (p. 29).
Yes! Truth is not an issue Christians can sidestep or ignore, for it is at the heart of our faith. But it is also critical for a healthy church. In Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey argues that the loss of belief in objective truth is one core reason why liberal churches have shrunk over the past few decades…
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