If you have ever given much thought to this present world in which we live, you have some idea of the power of interpretation. The world is a stable fact, quite unchanged by the passing of years, but how different is modern man’s view of the world from the view our fathers held. The world is for all of us not only what it is; it is what we believe it to be, and a tremendous load of wealth or woe rides on the soundness of our interpretation! In the earlier days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceded this world to be a battleground. Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides. He could not be neutral-for him it must be life or death, heaven or hell! In our day, the interpretation has changed completely. We are not here to fight, but to frolic! We are not in a hostile foreign land; we are at home! It now becomes the bounden duty of every Christian to reexamine his spiritual philosophy in the light of the Bible. So much depends on this that we cannot afford to be careless about it!
~ A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
“I am… the Truth”~ John 14:6
The influence of a Modern, and more recently, a Post Modern worldview places a premium on the relative nature of truth. According to those who embrace Post Modernism, truth is largely a particular construct of the individual based on their immediate circumstances. So that, what may be true one moment and in one context, may cease being true in the next. Both Modernism and Post Modernism came about as a result of the Enlightenment and was a product of the 17th & 18th century Age of Reason. Consequently, this shift from objective to subjective truth has adversely effected the faith of many Christians and has lead to a rapid decline in the belief of moral absolutes and an objective standard for truth.
For example, men like Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991) who was an ordained Episcopal priest, theologian, educator, and author developed a concept known as “situational ethics” whereby the ethical nature of an act gives more consideration to such things as private ideals, individualistic values, and personal interests over and above transcendent, absolute, moral standards. Another 20th century theologian, Lutheran professor Karl Bultmann (1884-1976) promoted the philosophy of existentialism, again advocating for a strong emphasis on the immediacy of how one’s own experiences shape their beliefs about life, faith, and truth.
As a result, this moral relativism has spread, not only throughout society at large, but it has sadly taken root in the Church. We judge truth rather than truth judging us. There is a battle for defining truth. Many Christians now look more to their own personal experience for what they believe or “feel” is true rather than trusting the objective standard of Holy Scripture. Yet, it is in the Bible where we read Jesus’ powerful testimony about Himself – He is the Truth! Truth is not found in private meditation or personal reflection, truth is found in Jesus Christ alone. Christians ought not to look inward for truth, but outward and upward. Look to Jesus. That which is truth will always accord with what God and His Son has revealed to us, not what we can find delving into the depravity of our own sin-darkened hearts.
Therefore, if we find ourselves trusting too much in the “wisdom of men” or in “leaning on our own understanding”, let us repent and remember: truth is in a person, that person just isn’t ourself – it is the Lord Jesus Christ. The One who declared two thousand years ago:
“I am… the Truth”.