Friday, March 15, 2013

What is truth?

Senator Rob Portman (R) has announced that after years of opposing the state's legalization of gay marriage he is now in favor of it. The reason? He explained to reporters "that he changed his position after his son Will told him and his wife, Jane, that he is gay."

Mollie Hemingway's salient observation:
One of the fascinating things about society today is that personal experience trumps everything else in argumentation. Very few people seem to care about fundamental truths and principles while everyone seems to care about personal experience and emotion. It's the Oprahfication of political philosophy.
This, unfortunately, very much describes the broad and not so-broad evangelical church today.  Books abound that advocate methods for living the Christian life, not by faith in the objective truth of Jesus Christ's finished work of redemption, but in the subjective - hearing Jesus speak, finding his immediate will, living in the spirit through inward impressions.  This approach essentially lays out one's personal experience as the royal road to true Christian living.  Jesus speaks to me... the Spirit revealed to me... I sensed his presence... These have become some of the subjective sign posts, the experiences by which Christians determine truth in order to live their Christian life.  The objective truth of Scripture gets filtered by and colored through personal experience to such an extent that the result which emerges is a subjective Rosetta Stone interpreting God's Word into my way, my truth, and my life.

Certainly we can't divorce ourselves from our own experiences or personal biases when coming to Scripture. But for that very reason we should be wary of - rather avoid - verifying what God's Word teaches and what it means to live the Christian life by any final reliance on personal experience, which sad to say, has become the status quo in today's American non-confessional Christianity.  It also has become default path for many believers in Reformed confessional churches.


  1. You have the Pentecostals, the neo-orthodox, and the Van Tilians to thank for that. If Scripture is not univocally the revealed propositional truth claims of God and merely "analogical", then it logically follows that truth is two-fold. God's truth is unknowable because Scripture is not literally what God says on the homosexuality issue. Following the logic of Van Til, human experience of Scripture rather than propositional truth is really the bottom line. If such is the case, why complain when Evangelicals reject doctrinal propositions recorded in Scripture?

  2. WCF Ch. 1, Of the Holy Scriptures:

    6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. (2 Tim. 3:15–17, Gal. 1:8–9, 2 Thess. 2:2) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: (John 6:45, 1 Cor 2:9–12) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (1 Cor. 11:13–14, 1 Cor. 14:26, 40)

    The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

  3. Charlie, you have to go farther back than the 20th century. The roots of the subjective as the key to truth are found in the early gnostics, the mystics throughout church history, the anabaptists of the 16th century, and the type American Christianity that evolved out of the revivalism of the first and second Great Awakenings.

  4. I actually think we have the Roman Catholics to thank for the fine political mess of traditional marriage. Specifically, they made marriage into a "Sacrament" such that it appeared the government was contributing to the administration of it. If only it had been left as God's blessing for all men and women, even non-Christians, then it would now be treated routinely.