Our world has become a global village through television, fast travel and mass migration. Different cultures now mix together as the distance between the nations has shrunk. If we look around us we see a variety of world-views in our communities. Our cities are home to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians alike.
With so many options the question of the truth of these world-views is raised. Many people see truth as simply a matter of personal preference. You will often hear this expressed in the sentiment it may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.
A Tragic Truth
So people say it doesn’t matter what you believe so long as you’re sincere. The trouble with this view is that you can be very sincere and yet be sincerely wrong. The followers of David Koresh’s Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas were entirely sincere but such sincerity brought them to a horrifying end.
No Absolute Truth?
There is no absolute truth, is yet another popular claim. The problem with this statement is that it actually affirms the very thing, it denies. To say there is no absolute truth is to contradict oneself. If there are no absolute truths then the very statement there is no absolute truth must itself be false.
Such a viewpoint is in fact not in touch with life. If truth is only a matter of personal preference, then how could we ever judge the actions of people as being true or false? For a child molester it is true to engage in pedophilia. For the Afrikaners racial segregation is true.
In Nazi Germany it was true to exterminate Jews and Slavs. In examining the question of ethics the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that Ethics is Transcendental. If you condemn pedophilia, racial segregation and genocide, then you are assuming there are standards of truth which do apply universally.
That’s Your Interpretation!
But that’s your interpretation is a common response people use when confronted with the implications of an argument they wish to reject but cannot escape its validity. Whilst we all do have biases, the question is whether a given viewpoint can be adequately sustained by supporting evidence.
If I argue that Hitler’s treatment of the Jews was motivated by his hatred towards them, there is sufficient evidence to support this interpretation. However, if I argue that Hitler was simply trying to help the Jews enjoy the bliss of the after-life, there is no ground for accepting such as interpretation.
When Jesus of Nazareth stated that he was the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me (John 14:6), it was not a matter of interpretation on the part of his followers.
It was a claim made by Jesus that he alone was God in human flesh and his path is the only true way to have friendship with God. Jesus offered supporting evidences to back his exclusive claims, such as the miracles he performed and in dying and rising again from the grave.
You may not like the claim, but you cannot claim Jesus never said it.
Part 2 – next time
Rev Dr Ross Clifford AM is the Principal of Morling College (NSW Baptist) and author of numerous books many of which focus on Christian Apologetics. He is a Vice President of the Baptist World Alliance, President of the Asian Baptist Association, an acclaimed international preacher and speaker, a columnist in many Christian publications, winner of many national and international awards and for many years the Sunday evening Sydney Radio 2CH host. Ross is married to Bev, father and grand father.