So here's an example of what I mean about missing the point about how people view truth. I was recently at the National Outreach Convention put on by Outreach Magazine. While in one of the main sessions, they played this video for us.
I'm just not sure that in real life people actually believe that 2+2 does not equal 4. I don't think that people question facts and reality. The major issue I see is that people are struggling with how to identify truth when it comes to you. There is admittedly a much bigger reliance on personal experience than authority when examining truth. But if something is true, then shouldn't it work in real life too? Is it really enough for true things just to make rational sense?
Let me bring this down to what it actually looks like in my own life. I had a conversation with a Calvinist who I love and respect. I don't subscribe to Calvinism for several reasons, which are somewhat beside the point here. Anyway, we were talking about Calvinism, and he said to me, "Calvinists today aren't really following Calvin. They've gotten away from the fundamentals that Calvin believed." I think he was trying to make me feel better about Calvin's Calvinism. So then I said, "um, yeah, but didn't Calvin kill a bunch of people who didn't believe the way he did?" And he said, "Yeah. He was a little cold."
So here's the thing. I can't espouse a belief that, when carried to its logical conclusion, coldly kills off people who don't believe the same way. I think that's antithetical to God's very character and being. I think that right beliefs lead to right actions. If experience is wrong, then something has to be wrong in the thinking too.
That doesn't mean that I don't believe in truth. What I would say about truth is that it is a person. Jesus said that he is the way, the truth, and the life. I know true by measuring things against Jesus and what is revealed about him in the Bible.
At the same time, I fully admit that how I perceive truth is limited to my own experience and beliefs. If I had been abused as a child and had my father beating and belittling me all the time (which didn't happen), I would have a very hard time perceiving God my Father any differently than that. That doesn't change the truth of God's character or being. But it does limit my ability to perceive and experience his love. Every word and every consequence of sin that's in the Bible is going to look like judgment to me.
Similarly, growing up in the Western world, the values and culture that I experienced totally affect how I perceive God. For the first 15 years of my life, I thought of Jesus as a white man. It wasn't until I was outside my own culture, living overseas in an Asian country, that I actually realized that Jesus was Middle Eastern and probably closer in culture to that country than my home one. And what a shock to my system that was. But how easy it is to read into our understanding of truth and reality what we're bringing in from other places--namely our experiences and our culture.
So what I am trying to say is that in my own conversations with people today, I don't have the sense that they question the existence of absolute truth. I have the sense that they are cognizant of their own biases, prejudices, and limitations, and are hesitant to say that they know for sure that what they believe is true. They'll also laugh in your face if you deny those biases and perceptions of your own and how they impact your own perception of truth.
My hope would be that we can move beyond this fight about absolute truth, which I doubt is at issue for the average person on the street, and begin to walk with people as they attempt to figure out how to know what truth is. I think that we have a lot to offer there, and I think it's sad that we're wasting our energy on something that's not at issue.