Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Twelve Points For Proving Christianity - Point One: Truth About Reality Is Knowable.


    Once I heard a lecture delivered by the late Christian apologist Norman Geisler. In the lecture he laid out what he called "Twelve Points for proving Christianity". I found his outline so helpful in thinking through how someone could discuss the truth claims of Christianity. What I want to do in this post and the next several postings is take Dr. Geisler's outline and unpack the points he presented. In my last post I introduced these twelve points, which readers may access and review here

    The hope is that readers will gain greater confidence in sharing their Christian faith, as well as defending it. If the reader is not a Christian, perhaps these posts may demonstrate why it is most reasonable to believe Christianity, with the prayer that the Holy Spirit may use the Scripture references to convinced the reader to repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. 

    The first point gives us the proper starting point for setting the stage for any discussion about the Christian faith - the issue of truth.

1. Truth about reality is knowable.

    Now why is this first point essential? When we look at our current cultural situation, many deny there being any such thing as "objective truth". Often people will say something like "what is true for you is true for you, but what is true for me is different". Perhaps more contemporary is the slogan "my truth", meaning that someone is presenting their view of the world and themselves. 

    According to this popular view of truth (called "relativism"), truth is relative, truth is "what you make it" or "what culture defines it to be". Such ideas comprise what is called "post-modernism". Post-modern thinking is a group of philosophical notions that deny there being a larger narrative that explains everything else, that dismisses objective right and wrong, and doubts the absolute nature of truth. I won't go into the history of why this current wind of thought is so-named, only to say that some believe we have surpassed the so-called "modern" period of thought that began in the 18th century Enlightenment, emphasizing the certainty of man's reason to arrive at understanding the overarching purpose of the world. It is an area of much debate as to whether "modernism" and "post-modernism" are two stages of current Western thinking, or just one continuous pattern, since both deny the reality of Divine revelation, and tend to deny the reality and involvement of God in our world. For our purposes, we will treat the two as distinct stages in the history of Western culture for the past two and one-half centuries. 

    Postmodern thinkers tend to root knowledge in one's personal point of view more than objective reason, and tend to deny we can ever find such a thing as an overarching purpose or truth. That last area of post-modernism, "truth", claims that there is not one truth with a capital "T", but rather "truths" with a small "t". 

    To say "the truth about reality is knowable" may not seem like a big deal to some, yet in our climate of denying objective, universal truth, such a claim is a necessary starting point when discussing Christianity. When I say "objective", I mean that something is what it is and remains constant, regardless of what you or I or anyone else may think. 

    The feature of our universe and world that makes it capable of discovery, making observations, and drawing forth meaning from its regularities is what we call "the uniformity of nature". Where objective truth comes into contact is simply observing that people of any perspective can arrive at commonly shared conclusions about our physical world and universe, as well as discerning the objective moral values and duties woven into its fabric. 

     If truth is something that I only can construct in a given situation, then the ability to discover any meaning in life, to do science, or to have a conversation with someone else is made null and void. It is this feature of our world, namely that we can know true facts about it, regardless of who we are, that points the way to establishing the Biblical teaching that if indeed we live in an ordered world and universe, then it begs the question of what or Who brought it about? As you will see, a person cannot get very far without truth. If anything, we are designed to need and live by truth. 

    As I considered this first point from Dr. Geisler, I wanted to see what Scripture had to say about "truth". What follows are some of my own conclusions, as well as remarks about truth made by Dr. Geisler and other authors. 

A. Truth is whatever corresponds to reality. Genesis 1:16-19; 8:22; Ps 8:1-4 (God has made reality to be knowable).

B. Truth about truth (ppgs 37-38 “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”, Geisler &Turek).

*Truth is discovered, not invented.

*Truth is transcultural; if something is true, it is true for all people, in all places, at all times.

*Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held.

*Truth is not affected by the one professing it.

*All truths are absolute truths.

C. The road runner tactic (“is that true”?)

    Dr. Geisler popularized this "tactic" after the way the Road Runner in the cartoons would suddenly run around Wiley Coyote and cause him to be spooked or to fall off a cliff. The idea here is to take any particular claim, and apply the claim to itself to discover whether it is self-contradictory. 

    Such a move exposes the error of many of the popular slogans we hear in culture today. One can also ask the simple question "is that true?" (this has been made popular by Norman Geisler's student and now a leading Christian apologist, Dr. Frank Turek). Take the following examples.

*All religions are the same (is that true?)
     Is it true that all religions are the same? Christianity teaches Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. Islam
denies the crucifixion but believes in a form of His resurrection. Judaism today has nothing to say about Jesus, since it believes He was a fraud. 

*All truth is relative (is that true?)
    This statement itself is a claim that is itself an objective, not relative, truth claim. Here we see the self-contradictory nature of the statement!

*You cannot know anything for certain (is that true?)
    In other words, are you certain that you cannot know anything for certain?

D. God is the basis of all truth, for He Himself is true by nature.

    It is amazing when you explore what the Bible teaches about this Divine attribute or perfection of God. God does not merely "have truth", He is true by nature.

*Exodus 34:6; Psalm 31:5; Psalm 57:10; Psalm 86:15; Isaiah 65:16; Malachi 3:6; John 14:6; Titus 1:1-2; James 1:17; 1 John 5:6.

More next time. 

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