Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Truth is Out There

22% of all Americans (24% among women; 20% among men) believe in absolute truth

I am tired of hearing people make the claim "that's your interpretation" or "that's one way of looking at it" when it comes to scripture interpretation. This statement conveys the message: "You interpret the Bible your way, and I will interpret it my way." This may avoid arguments, but truth is slain in the streets.

The truth contained in scripture is absolute truth. It is true whether it is believed or not. And it isn't just "religious truth". It's truth applies outside of the church. It's truth applies to neighbors, relatives, friends, and our culture.
Today's culture is slowly putting christianity in a box that says "Do Not Open Until Sunday." Christianity is fine as long as it's just a Sunay morning service and doesn't affect anybody else.

Unforunately, most Americans today do not believe there is any absolute truth (this doesn't make it not exist, however.) Consider this information I found on

  • In 1997, 50% of Christians and 25% of non-Christians said that there are moral truths which are unchanging, and that truth is absolute, not relative to the circumstances.

  • In 2000, 40% of individuals involved in a Christian disciplining process believed that there is no such thing as absolute moral truth

  • In 2000-JAN, a Barna Research poll showed that 38% of adult Americans believe that absolute true exists.

  • In 2001-NOV, another Barna poll showed that this had dropped almost in half -- to 22%. Their poll showed an amazing diversity of belief among followers of different branches of Christianity, and adults of different ages. Barna found that the following percentages of people believe in absolute truth:

    • 13% those born in 1965 or later

    • 15% of adults who are not born-again Christians.

    • 16% of Roman Catholics

    • 22% of all Americans (24% among women; 20% among men)

    • 24% of those born in 1945 or before

    • 28% those born between and 1946 and 1964

    • 32% of those who attend conservative Christian churches

    • 32% of adults who are born-again Christians

I am not smart enough, wise enough, or arrogant enough to claim I know all truth. But the truth is out there, and we should be searching for it. It's sad to see that even among the church, relativism has taken over. Our present culture has pushed all matters of religion into moral relative category of "feelings." Our present culture has tied matters of religion to a personal preference, or to a particular church. Truth is found in the scriptures regardless of personal opinion, but if you believe it doesn't, why waste your time building your life on a lie?


  1. Lorna said...
    Thanks for stopping by my place. I found your comment there very interesting, intriging even (grin) and liked what I read here.

    Truth is found in the scriptures. But we read (and love) different versions - each which have their own interpretation. That's compounded by the teaching of the church (or denomination) we happen to attend. What's more systematic theology builds up on what has been revealed /discovered about God over the centuries too. And then we have tradition.

    Is it any wonder we are confused about the details of the truth?

    I think one problem with ecumenism has been the attitude taken by so many that to be united we need to take the lowest common denominator, and that ofcourse can and does lead to a watering down of key issues.

    I'm not sure that's what unity is about though. The church should be united on the very basic principles (the trinity, the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that He is our only means of salvation for example)and we should be prepared for the fact that there is much diversity in interpretation and practice other than that.

    In the instance of the Holy Communion (Eucharist)for example there are two very opposing doctrinal "truths" out there - those who believe in transubstatiation (whether they use the term or not) and those who believe it is purely symbolic. When we look at scripture it says "This is my body - eat this in rememberance of me" - what is the truth in that.

    What I think is unifying in this - is that for both the Eucharist remains an important part of worship - that's so encouraging don't you think?

    We live in (or on the edge of ) a post modern society which says we cannot know for sure what the Eucharist really means. We cannot know what happens to the bread and the wine. (We cannot scientifically prove that the bread and wine change - because in reality they do not. But in faith ... (grin)

    Five hundred years ago Zwingli and Luther couldn't agree either ... they disagreeed on the meaning of the word "is" (grin)

    The trouble with the search for truth and the insistance that we (or our group of like minded people) have found it - is that it can result in our being extremely intolerant of other interpretations.

    Scripture doesn't give us all the answers - there is all too much room for interpretaton. Take baptism for example (another key issue for some) does it say anywhere in scripture that we must (or must not) baptise babies.

    The truth is out there. It is contained in scripture. I have not based my life on a lie ... but how we go about understanding and applying those truths there, well that's a whole other category Brett.

    (sorry for long comment)
    Brett said...
    There is a lot of information in your comment to digest. I love the long post, it means you think and have a lot to say. My time is limited, so want to touch on the first thing I came across about having different versions.
    I am not a scholar, I am a layperson. Here is my basic understanding of Bible Translations. Translations such as the NIV are "Thought for Thought" translations. These take a passage of scripture, then put the main concept into English (I'm sure it's not that simple). Other translations such as the ESV is an "essentially literal" translation that tries to capture the meaning of each word. Thought for Thought translations leave room open for interpretation in the translation, and essentially literal translations can be difficult to read. I grew up using the NIV, and I recently (Christmas) started using the ESV because of this.
    I am also a strong believer in consulting multiple commentaries, especially on difficult passages such as "this is my body" that has caused not a small amount of controversy in the church. The bottom line is either transubstatiation exists or it doesn't. One is right and one is wrong. It's not both. Only through careful and diligent study can this be properly interpreted. I think most of the scripture is essentially clear. Most that read on about a 5th grade level can read the bible and get the main concepts, even though much of the symbolism will be lost.
    Lorna said...
    I use the NIV. Recently I've been delving into the message for fun. I've used the ESV but only online. I don't own a copy of my own (yet)

    I agree it's good to compare translations and use commentaries but the most exciting thing for me is that the Bible lives. If I open it, and read it - and allow God to speak to me through it - He will. What He says may well be unique for me for that day. I don't intend to build a theology around a personal revelation but I think that's why the Bible is so important. and good.

    I recently read the bible in 90 days and highly recommend that. (I used NIV) and right now I'm re-looking at Luke. (Using the Message) because when I read the Bible super fast it was as if I hadn't read Luke before (quite a few books in the OT were like that - but Luke really jumped out. I loved it and am enjoying taking it more slowly now too. One chapter (at most) per day

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