"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." -Martin Luther

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Absolute Truth or The Gospel?

Which should a Christian address first? If someone does not believe in absolute truth, is it worthwhile sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, or is a belief in "truths" being just as real for you as they are for me more important?
After all, how can someone believe that there is only one God when they believe that two people can believe in two different Gods and both be just as correct!?
Personally, I prefer to avoid questions. For instance, when I am writing an outline in church and the Pastor says that his first point is "Why can Christ save us?" I write: " I. Why Christ can save us." After all, the point is the answer, not the question. [This is why the title of this post, along with the majority of the sentences in the first two paragraph's are questions. Go figure.]
I was hoping the above would somehow apply to my topic, but I don't think it did. Anyway, let me rephrase my question. Can God save someone before they believe in absolute truth? An attached question: does someone who believes in no absolute truth really mean the same thing when they say they believe something, as someone who does believe in absolute truth? Can I possibly make my sentences any more complicated?
The latter question will be answered soon enough; the former I will answer immediately: Of course not! If you really and truly do not believe in absolute truth, you cannot really and truly believe in anything. Of course, most relativists, when smacked in the face, would find that what was true for you (smacking) was true for them (being smacked). So there are few people who do not believe in any absolute truths.
It seems, however, that a pretty good number of people are convinced that they can believe one thing in their "spiritual life" and another in their "real life.' Despite the 'real' in front of the one, these two things are supposed to be just as true. They just don't affect each other.
This utter separation is foolish. Some things can be regarded as having no affect on each other. Take, for instance, the affect my sneezing here has on the star Deneb. None at all (as far as I know). The problem is that God claims to be very involved in the world and our lives. Believing in Him must have an affect on all our many "lives".
So, we should try to convince people through logic and reason that there must be absolute truth, and then share the gospel with them.
No.
The very fact just considered -- that God is involved in everything -- should give cause for pause before we assume that his gospel is insufficient to bring men to a knowledge of the truth. Certainly, it must be heard and believed. But the Gospel is not an argument with certain assumptions we must hold before we can accept it. Paul writes in Romans 1:16 "...I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..."
Ah, yes, but they must first believe it!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2: 8). See I Cor 12:9 and Romans 12:3 as two other references for the nature of faith as a gift of God.
The assurance of the unseen reality of God and His works is another of his works, not ours. While a lack of belief in absolute truth may be the defense someone uses against believing on Christ, it is not the real reason. The real reason is that we are all dead in our sins and will not believe -- until we are made alive through Christ. Take away every defense that can be given, and still no one will believe without a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to make them alive together with Christ.
If someone believes that there is no absolute truth, God can quite easily work in their heart to make them believe in Him. They may not realize it, but they now believe in absolute truth. Now, many believers, whether consciously and vocally or not (I am included among them), pretend that they do not believe in absolute truth. This is not something that should be ignored, and there is certainly nothing wrong with discussing absolute truth with an unbeliever. But God will deal with a Christian who tries to hold relative truths, and He is quite capable of saving people who do not believe in absolute truth. The Gospel, therefore, should be the priority. Christians and unbelievers in conversation should not bog themselves down talking about absolute truth when the much larger issue of God and man is unaddressed. The power of God is the Gospel. The power of my reasoning skills, however fabulous, can't hold a candle to it. Thank Him for that!

6 comments:

  1. Well-thought-out, well-argued, and probably true. Absolute truth is a funny thing...I think Caroline's working on getting me better acquainted with it.

    I have to know, though: did you put 'sneezing' in there on purpose? 'Twas quite cruel.

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  2. An excellent explanation of why attempts to argue men into the Kingdom don’t succeed. Lost and dying men are full of “intellectual” reasons why they can’t believe the gospel but the root is their deadness and rebellion against God. This method is also the example of Christ. Often someone would ask him a question in order to debate him or prove a point or give some objection and instead of answering their question directly, Christ would respond by bringing the gospel to bear against their life showing their sin and deadness and rebellion.

    An edifying post, thank you!

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  3. Amen!

    You're exactly right, this is why Paul said "I'm not ashamed..."

    Because he knew that it was not "wisdom" that would save men, but the gospel as "the power of God" unto salvation. And this is something that is not realized very often: the gospel is, in a nutshell, God himself working powerfully.

    Thanks for the great post.

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  4. Indeed. Thusly. Quite so. Agreed. *Drums with fingernails on desk* :) (Note: drumming thusly is a Cleatheral sign of concurrence... which means that Heather and I concocted it to mean that we agree).
    I don't exactly see how anyone can think they don't believe in absolute truth. The very statement "There is no absolute truth" is, other than the fact that it isn't, an absolute truth... which probably doesn't make any sense. My writings generally don't, you know.
    Hmm... I must drum that if that word was purposeful, it was cruel.

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  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone.
    Oh, I must not have been thinking when I put in the sneezing part. My apologies.
    Meanwhile...
    I am now officially done with finals and home. That's a good thing. (there's some absolute truth for you).

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  6. Got a question for you...I am not sure if this was meant to be adressed in this post, I couldn't really tell, but here it is,"Can a man be saved without believing the Gospel is absolutely true?" If not, how does this play into your answer to the question, "how can a person believe in one God when he/she thinks that two people can legitimately believe in 2 different God's." a paraphrase,,, not sure if that was your exact wording. Another way of putting this is ...Can a person be a chrisitan without believing in absolute truth? It's subtle and a possible hint is in this quote " 'It was good of you to look for Quentin.' 'Good!' she exclaimed. 'Good! O Anthony!' 'Well, so it was,' he answered. 'Or good in you. How accurate one has to be with one's prepositions! Perhaps it was a preposition wrong that set the whole world awry.'" -Charles Williams (The Place of the Lion)
    I would really like to get your thoughts on this one.

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A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.