What is Truth?

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In today’s society we are experiencing the influence of postmodern views in all areas of life.  Postmodernism has thrusted its own ideology in current institutions such as schools and has effected the church today to the degree that many have fallen for their definitions in order to follow the secular view.  Search for the truth has become a never-ending task since the current postmodern view on truth.  This truth, as defined by culture today, impacts biblical truths in Scripture and its understanding and how theology is to be done from a pastoral position.  The current postmodern view has developed its own definition of truth and that definition is impacting the Evangelical church and the pastoral ministry.

Defining truth has been a daunting task since the beginning.  In the Garden of Eden, the serpent asked Eve “did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1)  This caused her to stumble on the truth of the statement that he made.  Did the serpent ask her a truthful question?  He just twisted something in a way she did not come to the proper conclusion before falling.  Move ahead into the New Testament, we can see where Pilate, when he was interrogating Christ, made the statement “what is truth” with a hint of sarcasm (John. 18:38).  Pilate’s statement sounds like what a postmodern would say today concerning truth.  The desperation that Pilate had is shared by postmodernist where their view on truth has no absolutes.  Without God there cannot be absolute truth.[1]

In, today’s culture truth is being twisted to fit their view that all truth is relative.  This view of relativity in truth holds to the fact that there is no universal standard for right and wrong.  This view also considers that truth is unknowable and unobtainable but limited to what each individual thinks.  There is no method or measurement that the culture can use for the absolute truth and have devised their method of relativity of the truth.  In Evangelical Christianity, the absolute truth is found in God’s inerrant Word.  That is the standard in which we base truth.

Postmodernism is a movement of belief that each person’s view on truth is deduced by their own personal experiences.  Each person has their “own” truth and for the sake of tolerance, we should never question them but just accept their views.  The all-inclusive and all tolerant view is postmodernism at its premier character.  The postmodern person rejects an absolute truth view where the Christian holds of an exact opposite view where we believe in an absolute truth given to us by God.  The postmodern does not accept a biblical view holding to their own meanings of Scripture with their own personal interpretations and each personal interpretation is correct in their own mind.  With a distorted hermeneutic of Scripture, it is impossible to hold that Scripture is the inerrant word of God.  So, if each postmodern holds their own individual truth of Scripture, then how many different views exist today within the religious circles?

In the current postmodern culture, Christians are being pulled in various directions due to the vast amount of “personal” views of the truth of Scripture.  Having a postmodern view of Scripture has developed in the development of many heretical church movements that call their views as truth and not using the truth of Scripture to guide their congregants.  They have pulled the truth away from the center of their ministry and have polluted the minds of the church goers into believing a different truth away from what God has written in His Word.  Tolerance is the primary jab at the Christian way of life where tolerance tells the Christian to compromise the truth of Scripture and not follow what God has mandated for us in His Word.  Many use Ephesians 4:1-3 in defense that the church must be tolerant and all-inclusive.  Again, a wrong hermeneutic allows for this misinterpretation of Scripture to take place.  Paul was explaining that Christians have to have a quality of humility.  1 Peter 4:8 also gives us a picture of how we are to love in a way of being stretched out or stained putting other spiritual good before their own.  The argument is simple to defend that as a Christian believer, they must repent from their sins.  Of the church allows unrepentant sinners to attend and become members of the church then the church is not God’s church but man’s church.

An excellent example of a postmodern effect on church today is the Emergent church.  The Emergent church has followed in the footsteps of the postmodern in their desire to multiply numbers and church growth.  Pragmatic methods have developed in hopes of reaching the people by using methods to stimulate growth by way of power points, slides, video clips and popular music centering on relationship, community and traditional values.  They have taken away the church service from being God centered into a man centered service.  For the sake of church growth, they have adopted the postmodern mentality of inclusion and tolerance allowing for sinful actions to take place in the arena where God is to be worshipped.  Those involved in sinful lifestyles are allowed to partake in worship and other holy sacraments for the sake of tolerance.   Brian Mcleran has authored books on this subject with an activist role with the intent to welcome postmodern thinking in how we do church.

In Mcleran’s book, The Church on the Other Side, he proposes that postmodernism is the road to take in order to move on from the current stalemate between evangelical and liberal Christians.  In stark contrast to what Mcleran belief system on postmodernism and the church, Kevin Vanhoozer said this about postmodernism and the church,

In the past twenty years or so, postmodernity has become a concept that is as indispensable for understanding contemporary Western thought and culture as modernity has been for understanding the past three hundred years.  For some, postmodernity marks the end of theology; for others, it is a new beginning.

With the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transsexual (LBGT) movement in full swing and the United States Government ruling of same-sex marriage, many churches are under pressure to allow these people to attend and become members of church.  Clearly, the events of relativity in the postmodern culture today has affected the church and has dismantled the foundations of many denominations.  For the sake of tolerance, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, churches, just to name a few, have started welcoming these groups into their congregation.  It is not just a putting up with or disagreeing with their lifestyles but tolerance in postmodern view is a new tolerance or social commitment to treat all people and their views as equally right.[2]  Faithful members, sad to say, begin to question their own beliefs since their church caved into the pressures of the culture.  Many find themselves either searching for a new place to worship or caving in themselves under the pressure of being tolerant because they are being told it is the right thing to do, culturally not Biblically.

The seeker friendly or church of easy believism has also shared the postmodern culture view.  They are delivering messages that do not offend or single out sinners or sinful living in order not to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable or convicted.  With the same motivation as the Emergent church of filling the pews, the seeker friendly church has banished any hint of properly preaching God’s Word.  The impression left on the congregants is that everyone should be accepted and we need to overlook their sins and not be judgmental.  Evangelicals would turn their backs on their proper theological view to a pluralistic and worldly view on Christianity accepting the universalistic movement.  The false postmodern views welcomed by the church can distort the salvific process of the Gospel delivering a false Gospel that has no saving power.  Without the proper truthful view on what the thru Gospel requirements are, a false sense of salvation will be ushered into the church.  Postmodern beliefs do not have an absolute authority on the truth but Christians have the Word of God, which is the absolute authority on truth.

The pastor has a tough and long road ahead of him during these days of postmodernism views in the world culture today.  The authority of God in His Word is truth and that is the foundation on which all pastors need to stand.  The Biblical definition of truth, as told by John MacArthur, is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God.  Basically, the self-expression of God.[3]  The Bible shows throughout the books, chapters and verses that God is truth.  Deuteronomy 32:4 tells of His perfections, John 14:6 Jesus makes the statement that He is the truth……

Truth is hard to deliver to the people God has given the pastor to shepherd.  As an antagonist, truth offends, cuts deep and hurts.  The Word of God has to be delivered in the proper teaching for the protection of the flock.  Hebrews 4:12 gives us a picture of the power of the truth in God’s Word.  The writer says that the word is sharper than any two-edged sword. Scripture is to teach and to convict us of our sins by piercing the heart.  No wonder not many people want to hear what God is telling them.  Today, people want to feel good about themselves even in Christian circles showing what a self-centered and narcissistic culture the West has produced.  Timothy 3:16 gives us the foundation we use to deliver the truth of what God’s Word.  Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit explaining that God’s Word is good for teaching, for rebuking, for correction and for training in righteousness.  The pastor cannot bow down to society and culture but he must stand for the truth of Scripture as an ambassador to the Kingdom.

As penetrating to the souls as Scripture is, the pastor must stay on point to his calling and deliver the truth of God’s Word to His followers.  No matter how unpopular God’s truth is in today’s culture, it must still be delivered in full context.  There is no watering down or dumbing down in order not to offend people in order to win them over.  Pragmatism creeps in ever so slowly and it must be watched very carefully.  There is an overwhelming tendency to be liked by the congregation.  In order to keep them happy and feeling good about themselves, many pastors feel that they have to give the people what they want and dislocate themselves from the very foundation that will keep them safe and honoring God.  Church growth is up to God.  The pastor has to focus on the delivery of the truth of Scripture and by being diligent and faithful to that task.  By doing so, the flock will grow and be protected from any postmodern views that may creep into the church.  Success in ministry comes down to one thing and that is the faithfulness in service of the pastor to the calling to which God has called.[4]

Proper theology is required to lead the church on the proper path that honors God.  Not wavering to every little cultural whim under the sun, the pastor must maintain focus on proper theology.  Proper theology is based on the proper application of the different layers that are comprise truthful theology.  Exegetical Theology, Biblical Theology, Natural Theology, Historical Theology, Polemical Theology and Practical Theology are the foundational bricks that build a proper theology.  Knowing these things is not enough.  The proper delivery of proper theology is only done by expository preaching.  Having a proper theology will assist the pastor in developing an exceptional path to expository preaching.

The primary job for the pastor is to feed and protect his flock.  With expository preaching, the pastor can deliver the absolute truth of Scripture in a systematic and organized manner that will teach God’s people who He is and what His will is.  With a diluted theology and preaching that has no structure, caving into what the culture deems acceptable material for preaching, the truth of God’s revelation in Scripture will not be told properly.  The pastor must keep the pulpit a sanctuary for worship to the Lord.  It is a place where the pastor is the voice of God.  He must always be cognizant of the weightiness and fear involved handling God’s Word.  The Bible is the basis of preaching and it is the power that fills the pulpit.[5]

The truth is known and available to everyone.  God’s Word is truth but since the beginning truth has always been an object that man feels that an absolute cannot be found.  Through the history of man, many philosophical views have been developed in regards to defining the truth.  Today, the postmodern view on truth has the most dangerous implications on the church.  Tolerance and acceptance to everyone’s view on any issue has defiled the integrity of many denominations bringing into the church the world view.  As the challenges meet face to face with pastors holding to proper theology many are falling away from their first love and trying to meet the unbiblical needs of the people who hold postmodern views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] John F. MacArthur, John 12-21 MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Moody Publishers, 2008). P. 331

[2] D. A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance, Reprint edition (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2013). P. 98

[3] John MacArthur, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, First Edition (Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 2007). P. 2

[4] R. Kent Hughes and Barbara Hughes, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2008).

[5]John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel (3rd Edition): When the Church Becomes Like the World, 3 edition (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010).  P. 196