Does objective truth still hold value?
“If you are anything like me,” says noted Christian author and speaker Lisa Bevere, “you want to love the broken people around you.” But so often Christians are told they’re being judgmental and hateful if they don’t accept the false version of love that accepts everything — no matter how destructive it is to people’s lives.
“In a wavering world,” adds Bevere, “I believe we can be people who stand like a rock, embodying both grace and truth. Real truth is not a river. It’s a rock.”
Lisa’s comments have been reverberating inside my brain ever since I heard them. Because she’s spot on. In rejecting objective truth, society is wooing us to believe that truth is a river; that it ebbs and flows with the trends, and that we each get to define and live out our personalized version of it.
Park a minute at this comic strip by Adam Ford called “Anti-Choice Judge.” It masterfully shows how subjective truth can warp a person’s view of themselves and the world. We need objective truth — God’s truth — to keep us from spiraling into total narcissistic self-absorption! We need God’s truth to keep things real.
Please Don’t Feel Judged or Offended
The Church is supposed to be full of Christians who are salty beacons of light. We’re supposed to lead people into an authentic relationship with Christ. Many churches — filled with messy people in various stages of sanctification (Duh! That’s what church is for!) — take this directive seriously and do their best to evidence Christ in their thoughts, words, and actions.
But just as many churches seem to be confused about their purpose.
In their attempt to demonstrate how “loving” they are, many now choose to dilute, if not ignore, God’s objective truth when it comes to hot potato issues such as abortion and sexual identity/behavior. Some churches no longer even use the words “sin” or “sinner,” for fear that someone might be offended and not return to fill the seats and budget. But these churches are failing to remind people of their desperate need for Christ as Savior.
Shall we present Jesus’ cruel, excruciatingly painful sacrifice as unneeded or trivial, just so people will feel little — or no — conviction about their life choices? Shall “church” come to mean nothing more than weekly self-esteem rah-rah sessions for “good” people to “claim their blessing”?
Theatrical worship experiences, amped by pulse-pounding drums and guitars, fog smoke, and strobe lights are thrilling in the moment, but don’t stay with us after we walk out. Hey, Jesus, didn’t you just LOVE that mountain-top rock concert?!
Warm, fuzzy, funny sermons make us feel good, but did they lead us to a raw encounter with Christ? What about all the gimmicks many churches now use to entice people through their doors? Jesus, weren’t you just AWED at how clever we were to incorporate helicopter egg drops at Easter and glow-in-the-dark acrobats at Christmas? They will bring people to you, Jesus, we just know it!!!
But do people leave talking about Jesus — or the helicopter? When we become so hip and cool in the eyes of secular society, will the Church still have impact? Or will it become just another outlet for momentary feel good entertainment?
Jesus isn’t interested in our feeling comfortable. He’s interested in movement and growth. He wants to break all the chains and junk that keep us from Him.
Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” There is a huge difference between the person who is apologetic about his sin and the person who is repentant about his sin. In the first, a person continues to sin, knowing God is gracious to forgive. In the second, a person refuses to continue in his or her sin because s/he wants to please Christ.
In a secular blot post I read yesterday, the author stated that Christianity will “finally be of help to people” once society is able to remove its attachment to the supernatural. Sigh. Whenever I hear comments like this, which are typically expressed by atheists and angry ex-Christians who feel failed by the Church and God, I shake my head at their clueless arrogance. Yes, the Church is messy and flawed, and sometimes downright sinful, but it holds incredible life-changing power when it dies to self and allows Christ to reign.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
Fortunately, God is at work even in churches that have embraced Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. “What the heck is that?” you ask.
Basically, it’s a feel-good theology in which God is a teddy bear. The term was coined by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in 2005, after they conducted a nationwide telephone survey of Christian teens to learn how they viewed religion.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, writes Ford in another of his cartoons, “happens to be a preferred religion of Western culture, which usually (and tragically) goes by the name Christianity.” In it, God is a cosmic therapist and divine butler. Though He exists, it isn’t necessary to actually make him part of our daily life — unless we have need of Him.
We treat God likes He’s our genie; simply at our beck and call when we need a favor.
Adds Kenda Creasy Dean, author of Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism “offers comfort, bolsters self-esteem, helps solve problems, and lubricates interpersonal relationships by encouraging people to do good, feel good, and keep God at arm’s length.”
The bottom line: every “Christian” gets to heaven by being “good,” rather than submitting to Christ. Being a “good” person, you see, is the golden ticket to get into heaven. And anyway, God is a loving God, so He won’t really send anyone to Hell, you know! That would just be soooo mean!
Dale Partridge, the founder of the RelearnChurch.org, which seeks to reconnect churches to the Bible, holds this view: “We want costless Christianity,” he states. “We don’t like participatory Christianity that has a cost.”
Conveniently Ignoring Objective Truth
Society asserts that God can’t be real, so objective truth can’t be real, either. So neither is the notion of “sin.” As Bevere noted, we’ve become a society of opinionated, rather than convicted, people.
But being a Christian isn’t about consensus morality determined by society. It’s morality based on the Word of God. The person who minimizes and justifies sin with a “Don’t judge me!” response, adds Ford, knows very little of the Bible.
Clearly, a lot of Christians aren’t reading the Bible.
A 2016 study of 1,000 Christians, conducted by LifeWay Research, showed that ONLY 11 percent of those surveyed had read the whole Bible. Ten percent of those surveyed had read NONE of it! A whopping 13 percent had read only a few sentences. How can Christians know the objective truth of what God considers sin, if they haven’t read His messages to them?
For many years I was a superficial Christian, determined to keep Jesus at arm’s length because I hated the gruesome cross story. But when I did start to seek Him — in part by reading the Bible, which society asserts is just a dry, useless book — this is what I discovered: that Jesus isn’t just “that cool dude who went around loving and healing people.” He’s our mind-blowing God who deliberately took human form to show us that He fully identifies with our every thought and struggle. He “gets” our temptations and our failings and our messy bits and our dark corners — and FULLY accepts and loves us — like no other person or organization or group ever will.
To know Jesus is awesome. To only know of Him is to seriously miss out.
But Jesus isn’t “religion.” Jesus is raw, real, authentic truth and love. He is our very needed savior. Our souls clamor for Him, even as we adamantly turn to other sources to fill our need for love, acceptance, control, and connection. Our seeking objective truth leads us to Jesus. Personal truth just leads us to an endless fascination with our bellybuttons.
This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowell’s recently revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this fully updated and expanded resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because it’s true. But share this truth with LOVE!
If you’d like to start from the first blog post in this series, click here: Apologetics: Apologizing for Believing in God?.