By Ben Swift
Truth by definition excludes. (Ravi Zacharias)
Recently while enjoying a coffee with a friend we got into a discussion about some of life’s more deep thoughts revolving around differences in truth as perceived from an atheistic perspective compared to a Christian one. One of the ideas raised was that of the mathematically perfect situation our planet lies in in terms of sustaining life as we know it and how our planet exists in what scientists sometimes refer to as The Goldilocks Zone (perfect position). My friend, when considering these facts, among others, concedes that the universe is most probably the result of intelligent design but not created through God’s Word in the Christian sense.
Flowing on from this worldview is the common viewpoint that as long as people live good lives it doesn’t matter what they consider truth to be as long as we all get along and tolerate each other, including our different belief systems. There are however, major consequences to beliefs that reject God as the creator in terms of identity and hope. Take Richard Dawkins famous line for example, ‘In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some…. expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference’ and ‘DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music’. Jean Paul Sartre, a well-known atheist recognises the consequences of rejecting God when he admits, ‘Atheism is a cruel, long-term business: I believe I have gone through it to the end’.
The Christian message doesn’t fit however into the current religion of ‘tolerance’. Nor does it allow for individuals to construct their own version of truth, thus creating God in their own image. This is why Ravi Zacharias recognises that truth by its very definition excludes.
I get the impression that the majority of our society believe that to love is to not offend and therefore we should all demonstrate complete acceptance of anything and everything that is regarded as truth, love or beauty, by anybody seeking approval or acknowledgement to legitimise their personal preferences. But is this really love? Is it really loving to tell people what they want to hear in the hope that nobody is offended? Wouldn’t it be more loving to be honest about what is true according to the only true, pure and original source of love, God Himself?
In the end, every human version of love is tainted by our own self-serving nature. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we often have selfish motives behind what we want others to see as loving action, whatever the context.
Interestingly, Jesus never claimed to bring peace and harmony to humanity, despite claiming that He was God and that God is love. Take for instance Jesus statement, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). These words are very exclusive and if they are true the consequences are well worth considering. The Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard expressed this well when he stated, ‘Christianity cannot be proved conclusively by reason, but neither can it be disproved. If it turns out that Christianity is true, we have everything to gain; but if it’s false, we have nothing to lose. We should accept the inevitable risk of faith, and gamble on the truth of Christianity’.
While I’m quite confident that this blog post will not result in an invitation to sit on a Q&A panel on the ABC, I am also aware that Jesus message never earned him the popular vote. After all he was crucified for his claims about truth! Jesus plainly admits that his message will cause offense. ‘Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be members of his own household’. (Matthew 10:34-36)
These are heavy words that don’t fit the mold of our society and its views on love and tolerance. As a follower of Christ however, I can’t avoid the question, “If Jesus isn’t the only way and the only truth, doesn’t that make a mockery of the message of The Cross?” “Doesn’t it put to shame the churches mission to spread the Gospel to all the nations and thus divide cultures with deeply rooted histories and belief systems?”
As the apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, ‘There can only be one truth. Either God’s word is the truth or we followers of Christ are to be pitied more than all others’.
We all have the freedom to believe whatever we like, but that doesn’t alter what is ultimately true.