The Back Page – Truth


There are two kinds of truth—objective and subjective.
Objective truth is verifiable. Because there is a reality “out there” to which our statements about it should correspond, answers are (or should be) the same for everybody. How much is 2+2? What is the chemical formula for glucose? When was Rob Winder born? How many nails were used to construct this building? There are clear, non-negotiable answers to these questions.
Subjective truth is personal and, though “true” for the person who holds it, varies from individual to individual. What food tastes best? What genre of music most pleases the ear? Which sport is most exciting? Where is the most relaxing vacation spot?
Is religious truth primarily objective or subjective?
Today, many people respond when we share the gospel by saying, “If belief in Jesus is true for you, then great! I am happy for you! But it’s not true for me.” For them, religion is an individual matter, a choice based on personal preference, having no objective data on which to base a decision, a matter of subjective truth.
But religions should address questions that have non-negotiable answers. To quote Finding Home: Either there is or is not a transcendent, creator God. Either spacetime and matter/ energy are all that exist, or there is more. Either God spoke to Muḥammad through Gabriel or he did not. Either Kṛṣṇa is an avatāra of Viṣṇu or he is not. Either one who dies in jihād is greeted in paradise by forty virgins or he is not. Either Jesus of Nazareth physically rose from the dead or he did not. These are not “ideas” or “values” or “beliefs” or “spiritual metaphors.” These statements purport to describe the actual state of affairs. Neither what anyone believes about them, nor how many believe, nor how hard they believe, nor what belief makes them do, makes these assertions either true or false. Belief may mold the believer’s attitude and behavior, but attitudes and behaviors do not establish the veracity of what a believer believes.
We should be Christians, not primarily because it is true “for us,” but because it is true. As Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly-devised tales … but were eyewitnesses” (2 Pet 1:16).

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