“Absolute” Truth

Recently, I was involved in a conversation with a friend of mine over certain biblical truths; creation, one man – one woman, the virgin birth, etc.  The whole event boiled down to the issue of absolute truth as it relates to scripture. In other words, the Bible is true in what it says on all counts or it may not be true at all.

Many folks like to use the slippery slope argument when it comes to challenging certain aspects of scripture. If one piece of the puzzle is determined to be questionable, then the whole puzzle is questionable.  I suspect if one holds to the Bible is true in all that it addresses then one might find comfort in that premise. However, I am not at all certain the Bible addresses the issue of absolute truth.  Now I make that observation not as a theologian or a philosopher but as a student of scripture.  Let me explain.

Does it matter in the grand scheme of things whether or not creation was done in seven, twenty-four hour days, or seven centuries? The world can still be a product of creation.  Is it critical to one’s belief system whether Adam and Eve were a representation of humankind or two individuals? Either way, by choice, sin became a stumbling block between man and God.   Regarding the virgin birth, as stated in an earlier post, as incredible as it seems on the surface, is it essential that one believe the virgin birth account in order to be “saved.”  Can Christ still be God if he was not virgin born? (Sinless is not the issue here, although it could be.)

If two people are students of scripture and come to opposing views on subjects as noted above, does that make one right and the other wrong? If so, does that rightness or wrongness hinge on the issue of truth – truth either couched in personal belief or truth as it relates to the scriptural record?

Let’s look at a simple premise: We know that God cannot lie (Titus 1:12, Heb 6:18). Further more, God’s expectation of His people both in the OT and NT is that they be people of truth both as it relates to the Law and their conduct/character.  Nevertheless, for whatever reason, God chooses to establish the people of Israel on what I might call a foundation of characters who lie – and lie a lot. Jacob is probably the best example of that. This, in my opinion, does not seem to fit the character of God. So does that impugn the integrity of God?

Now, having said that, I am not proposing that because people like Jacob lied, what they did was not believable. It simply presents a question; If God, a God who cannot lie, chooses to establish His people and eventually the Messiah, through a series of events that are deceitful, then doesn’t that seem incongruent with who God is? After all, he is God, he could have very well established the lineage of His people through anyone He desired even Esau. Hence, deceit would have been less obvious.

Before anyone plays the “Esau sold his birthright” card, let’s be clear that if that was significant to the overall story, all Jacob would have had to do is tell Abraham, “Look, Esau sold his birthright to me, so the blessing rightfully belongs to me and not to him.”  There would have been no need for deceit or trickery either on Rebekah or Jacob’s part.

Back to the issue of “absolute truth.”  Perhaps we can say that absolute truth is apparent in gravity, the rising and setting of the sun, and death but beyond that, is it not fair to look at other major issues in scripture and confess there may be an alternate understanding? If not, then don’t we as individuals become arbitrators of what truth is regardless of what people in the past have established as truth? If so, truth then becomes relative to the individual or certain situations.

This brings me full circle to the idea that perhaps the Bible does not address the issue of absolute truth. It does establish the history of Israel as told through the eyes of the people of Israel and Christianity through the eyes of those who are Christians. It establishes certain moral codes and theological premises, but not absolute truth. That is something we as believers bring to the table.

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4 Comments

Filed under Bible, Truth, Uncategorized

4 responses to ““Absolute” Truth

  1. jonron

    Jesus said…”for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” John 18:37

    When the serpent said to Eve, You surely will not die,” he planted in her mind a concept which pervades, even dominates, our thinking to this day. Like Pilate we say, “What is truth?” That is, truth is of no consequences; truth is whatever you believe it to be, truth changes with the circumstances; absolute truth does not exist.

    Jesus went on to say, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Those religious leaders who resisted HIs words, kept asking for signs, questioned His authority-were not “of the truth.”

    Regarding creation: God is not constrained by space or time. When He created the world, it was with a word in an instant. It did not require even a day to create anything; He spoke and it was so. It seems to me that those who say that a “day” in the creation story could be a century or a millenium are doing so because science suggests it.

    Regarding the virgin birth: Jesus had no beginning. How could one with no beginning be “born”? If He was conceived as mere men are, He would have a beginning. Having been virgin-born addresses the issue of His being eternal and yet having a birthdate. (For me, every natural conception is a miracle, so the impregnation of Mary by the Holy spirit is no problem at all.)

    Having said all that, let me say this: Since I am natural and evil, how can I eve begin to understand that which is supernatural and pure? I am not among those who are highly intelligent or those who are super spiritual, so when you read what I say, consider the source. My desire, however, is to be among those who are “of the truth” and “hear His voice.”

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  2. Norm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts again Jon.

    I suppose the question might be asked, “How can any one ‘understand that which is supernatural and pure?'” If that is accurate, then how can anyone respond with any serious intent to the message of the Bible?

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  3. jonron

    True! What fellowship hath light with darkness. But we are children of the Light; walk in the Light.

    When I was a child, I thought as a child…
    Now we see through a glass darkly…

    So, how can anyone understand that which is supernatural and pure?

    Walk in the Light
    Cultivate the mind of Christ
    Be Holy even as Christ is Holy
    If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God
    Put away childish things
    Having said that, however, since we now see through a glass darkly, but THEN face to face there will always be a limitation to our understanding of God and His ways.

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  4. Norm

    Most of what you’ve noted is related to who we are “in Christ” not so much our understanding of God. Perhaps the more intimate my fellowship with Christ the more coherent my understanding of God but then that too is relational.

    It is not the “limitation to our understanding” that challenges me. I can accept that. It is that which is knowable, what God has revealed about Himself that haunts my mind and heart.

    Alas, one day I may be as you are and my mind will be a rest.

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