THE “CHRISTIAN” MYTH ABOUT “THE TRUTH”

Going as far back at least as 1987’s publication by Prof. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, “truth” vs. “relativity” has been a political battleground for your thoughts and values – especially around the edges of church circles. While I didn’t personally read Bloom’s book, I certainly remember the splash it made in the news, and I recall the fodder it made for talk radio in the early 1990s. I listened to several conservative talk show hosts (Limbaugh, Hamblin, Liddy, among others) make comments about this stuff, and none of them were speaking for Christ, but for political persuasion. James Dobson and friends, though, specifically did specify they served Christ with this same thought process.

In my mid-twenties, such radio talk made a lot of sense to me. The religious and political perspectives made sense to me, and they seemed to go hand-in-hand (almost). There was a while there when I thought we were all talking about the same thing, AND it made sense of our world. Relativity vs. Absolute Truth. One side was an anything-goes movement of sin, chaos, and ultimately destruction. The other side built a world of reason and peace. Republicans and conservatives seemed, politically speaking, to coincidentally champion the same turf.

Almost.

Actually, I sensed erosion in the solidity of this assertion early on, but I didn’t know how to think a clearer thought on it all for a long time.

Today, I found a religious leader making headlines on my computer championing much the same old stand, though some of the key terms have changed a bit. This man, so the article claims, holds a Ph.D and leads a ministry in Colorado, has written more than at least one published book, and as such is a voice conservative Christians can trust. He also links this religious ideal to politics of our day.

I did not read his book, but I read the article, and I find that short bit of literature so wanting it seems embarrassing to me (for him). Perhaps his book and his speeches make better sense of the material, and the lame-stream media in which I find his story somehow skews his otherwise good and proper offerings. But I note I find this story covered by Fox News, and so take that how you see fit.

I thus challenge Christian readers to look more closely at these ideas than these presenters distilled through the conservative media, which I have been listening to for about three decades. I challenge you to think again, just like this leader claims he is challenging you to think. Only I will pick apart his more famous, better published, and extensively educated opinion(s) with my humble offering here.

For your reference, I here provide a link to the article I now pick apart:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/christian-leader-says-enough-with-my-truth-society-must-return-to-the-truth/ar-AA14Sqav?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=6b9d2220fbdd42c3bdb57ae8348b03cf

In the article, Dr. Jeff Myers appears to be reacting to individuals who claim “my truth” over against “the truth” or possibly “your truth.” As far as that goes, I am with Dr. Myers. I too am disturbed by the overall acceptance, certainly in the mainstream media, of “my truth.” I heard this phrase used in a news item regarding a victim of Jeffrey Epstein recently. The commentator spoke of this witness who went to court to convey “her truth” for the jury to hear, and what a victory it was that she did so.

Let me pause right there a moment. I so completely sympathize with every aspect of that statement on so many levels all accept for how the use of “her truth” short-changes the truth. As best I can tell, Epstein was truly a sexual predator who damaged a lot of girls and young women for years. The courts seem to have affirmed that. This notion has pretty well passed the truth test! In large part, it seems, due to this witness’s testimony. And as long as she is/was honest about her experience, it always was THE truth, and not merely hers; she only had a personal perspective on it.

Thus, she never somehow owned it all for herself on the one hand, nor on the other was it reduced to merely her perspective. Either way you use that phrase, “her truth,” you mishandle it and short-change THE truth. The truth is available to us all, shared by us all, and necessary for us all. We must share this world, and the truth and reality of it is one, even if our experiences in it/of it differ.

To be fair, Dr. Myers did not react to this Epstein case in the article, but I expect he would concur with my view. I sense a great commonality between us at a few points, and I think this will be one of them. However, since I think his view is motivated almost entirely by politics, and not the Bible (as he claims), I wonder if he would in fact concur in the end. (I think Myers needs to get really, and unusually, honest with himself about “the truth” before we get there.)

Consider the use of the phrase “biblical truths” as we find them in the article. 

I don’t want to completely dismiss the phrase out of hand and claim in and of itself the phrase “biblical truths” is guilty of the very thing Myers and others like him say about “relativity” or “my truth” statements. I’m not prepared to go that far, but I am suspicious of it nonetheless, and for much the same kinds of reasons Myers seems to suggest. (Go figure.)

How many truths does the Bible attest to? 

At the very least, at a minimum, if you are going to publish an article explaining to the wider world how important “the truth” is over against “my truth,” have the decency to explain how you can use a phrase like “biblical truths” (plural) in your defense of “the truth” (singular) which also you claim is biblical.

(I’m thinking that is either a really tough task OR it just shot a fatal hole in your case. But maybe that’s just me. Either way, I can’t imagine how you expect “everyday” people (another phrase I struggle with, btw) from the wide world of public discourse, to take you seriously or understand your meaning.)

How about we just stick the “biblical truth”? Let it be singular. At least for the case presently under consideration. 

Call me crazy.

But then if we are going to talk about “biblical truth” and use it as a claim on “the truth,” we are effectively saying they are the same thing (or something very close to it). No?

Even if we make a strange case that “the truth” is not exactly a one-to-one synonym for “biblical truth,” we are surely claiming they go together so intimately, and in agreement to such an extent, that they cannot really be separated, and certainly never oppose one another.  That, of course, does make a case for “the truth” being completely singular arguable. And you might win that argument, but you really need to make it, address it somehow, OR just go with the notion they are the same.

Either way, the next order of business is to appeal TO THE BIBLE!

Dr. Myers wants us to believe in THE TRUTH, not in “my truth,” “your truth,” “or any other pronouned truth. And as a Christian leader, he wants us to be biblical about it somehow, but for whatever reason (politics???), rather than appeal to the Bible, he goes straight to the Founding Fathers of our nation. 

Oh, to be fair, he claims they studied Moses’s law (in the Bible) and discovered it to be the foundation for the laws they codify, but not only is that hearsay, it’s not actually biblical. It makes no mention, acknowledgment, and certainly no explanation for why, then, these same Founding Fathers instituted a “separation of church and state.” (Hey, that’s right off the quill of the Founding Father himself!)

No mention at all – much less an explanation. 

And yet, he claimed to be biblical while taking THIS tiptoe path through the toolies! 

If Dr. Myers’s concern here is to head off some anything-goes mentality by appealing to God and “the truth,” I am right there with him. But he needs to appeal to God and his word for this, not the sinful Founding Fathers who are not in the Bible anyway. If you want to get biblical, then get biblical! (What did they teach this Ph.D.?)

Myers’s opposition to “social justice” is a bit odd too. He wants social justice folk to be biblical, but he isn’t. He finds something unbiblical about social justice and demands people of the wide world of public discourse go read the Gospels. It’s a small demand, he would have us believe, and we will not find the “redistribution of wealth” to be biblical, he says.

Really?

If I open Dr. Myers’s Bible to the Gospel of Mark and turn to chapter 10, verse 21, will I find that passage cut out? How does this Christian leader not notice the redistribution of wealth there? It’s pretty staunch and in your hostile face, actually. It’s not some insinuation either; it’s right there in the black and white print. It comes across in English quite strongly.

If, Dr. Myers were to see a problem with the government ordering people to do what Jesus orders them to do, he should say THAT instead. It will not have the same punch to it, but it will be a significantly different message from the wrong one he clearly champions.

I must confess, I am not entirely sure how to handle this term “social justice” myself. What exactly is meant by it, and are we all meaning the same thing when we say it? I am sure that Jesus is social, and he is just. Neither of those things are evil, and in fact together, they are quite good. IF we mean something else by the term, and if the mainstream media and the Left and liberals and Democrats have truly hijacked the term so that it means something else, then explain that while you are tearing it down. 

I am personally convinced that Jesus is not making some exception for liberals or poor people to lord it over the rich or Republicans in some political court. But I wonder about a religious leader who is more worried about some nebulous notion of “social justice” in service to “my truth” than he is about whether the poor are going cold and hungry tonight. I would really hate for pagans, sinners, and godless Leftists to outshine the love of God! Heaven forbid that ever be somebody’s truth!

By now, you surely see why I think Myers is motivated by politics rather than Jesus or even THE truth. I think he wants to make this ethereal case sound godly and shore up any cracks in what he hopes is a monolithic voting bloc among conservative “Christians.” Perhaps I am wrong about that, but he sure fails the smell test right about there.

In the end, I believe truth is relative. How can LOVE not be relative? You absolutely must relate to love to have any, and Jesus is the truth, while God is love. (Both statements are in fact found IN THE BIBLE.) I do not, thereby, believe in an anything-goes world order at all. But between Dr. Myers and Fox News, so very many of my conservative “Christian” brothers and sisters are in fact NOT REALLY reading the Bible, but they ARE trying to lord it over the gentiles (over liberals and Democrats) acting as if the Bible would endorse them doing it.

THAT I have a problem with. THAT I seek to address in whatever small fraction of a Christian readership I can muster here.

It’s a Christian myth about “the truth” that isn’t helping anyone, but surely is dividing a nation and drafting “Christians” to the division cause.

Thanx for reading.

 

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One comment

  1. laceduplutheran · December 5

    People love to claim they know “the truth.” What they really mean is their interpretation of truth. We each approach truth through our experience, lives, hermeneutics, culture, and more. At the same time, there is an absolute truth. 2 + 2 =4. Regardless of my truth about that, 2+2 will always = 4. I think what many people are using the phrase “my truth” are really saying is “my experience.” They are equating experience with truth. What you see, feel, hear, sense, touch, taste, etc, is true. I wonder how that might be different than an absolute truth. And I wonder how that might differ from a so-called biblical truth.

    Related to biblical truth, we also need to dig in – are we dealing with the translation, or getting something from the Greek or Hebrew and putting it in the cultural context. Is what is being said true to the context only, or is it something that goes beyond that to something for all times and places? And who gets to judge that anyway? So many question.

    On to the article. Myers is way off on the Founding Fathers for starters. Most of them were deists and wrote the founding documents with the idea that men could best determine what they needed to do “They were endowed by their Creator” – almost a type of “my truth kind of argument. Most were not coming from a Christian background. And the Israelites were not a Republic at all. Myers scholarship is faulty to the core. Which for me means that his argument ultimately drives down to this question – why is he writing this?

    He obviously has an issue with the term social justice. No effort was made to do any type of research on the term, which he would have found goes back to 1894 in the Catholic Church in a curial document and again in a 1904 Pope Pius X encyclical. It would be pretty easy to see from these documents what the idea of social justice is about from a theological perspective and what it is rooted in, rather than the cheap shot that Myers makes for partisan points.

    In the end, the problem with Myers’ argument is this – he makes the same argument so many Evangelicals make. That faith is really an individual thing. The problem with that argument is it boils down to a “my truth” argument. Faith is more than just an individual thing. It’s also a communal thing as well. That’s the part of social justice that he dismisses. When he’s focusing on the Founding Fathers, he’s focusing on individuality, rather than communal aspects of things. He’s missing the greater good.

    Like

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