Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy,
Putting Truth to Work: the Biblical View of Truth
Truth is so obscure in these days, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth, we shall never know it.—Blaise Pascal Pensées.
I. Truth in Christian Witness: Apologetics
A. Jesus is Truth Incarnate and an apologist (John 14:1-6). See Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus, chapter 3.
B. His followers must know the truth and make it known (John 8:31-32;
1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20).
Christian worldview: creation/fall/redemption/consummation. Christian Apologetics, chapters 2-3.
II. Truth and Today’s Culture
A. Knowing our culture, for example,
“From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what
B. Two types of unbelief
1. Postmodernism (Richard Rorty): Truth is socially constructed and variable (relativism or non-realism)
2. Philosophical materialism (Richard Dawkins): Truth is what materialistic science describes (realism); there is no supernatural realm, e.g., God, the soul, spirits, the afterlife
III. The Christian View of Truth: the Nature of Truth
A. A true statement is one that reflects or matches reality (realism or the correspondence view of truth). See Christian Apologetics, chapter 5; Groothuis, Truth Decay, chapter 4.
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”—1 Corinthians 15:14.
B. Truth is objective; not merely subjective
Truth-claims stake out portions of reality through words: “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:5-11).
C. Truth is antithetical, either/or
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters—Matthew 12:30.
D. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Depend on the Spirit to give us an intelligent and virtuous witness (Acts 1:8).
IV. Against the Postmodern View of Truth
A. Postmodernism often refutes itself: claims truth is not objective, but then claims to be the objective account of truth: “There is no objective truth.”
a. If this statement is true objectively, then it is false. It is, therefore, self-refuting, self-stultifying as an objective truth claim.
b. If the statement is true subjectively, then there no reason to hold the postmodern view of truth as the claim applies to everything as objective, universal claim.
2. Counterexamples against postmodernism showing universal, objective truths:
a. Laws of logic: identity (A=A); noncontradiction (A is not non-A).
b. Objective moral goodness or evil: Mother Theresa or Osama bin Laden; sadistic torture or famine relief; murder or love
B. Challenge postmodernists to pursue the truth and put off laziness: truth counts forever (Luke 9:25). See Christian Apologetics, chapters 6-7.
V. Against Scientific Naturalism
A. If the brain is not designed for truth, and if organisms can survive and reproduce without consciousness or rationality, there is no reason to think our material brains know the truth. Charles Darwin. See Christian Apologetics, chapter 18.
1. We were designed to know God and the world; there is a fit between our being and our knowing of the world (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8).
2. Laws of logic are not physical, but universally and absolutely true ideas (that is, immaterial things).
B. Morality is more than instinct and social conditioning (materialism): values are immaterial truth beyond mere matter. See Christian Apologetics, chapter 15.
VI. Take Biblical Truth to the Streets!
A. Understand the biblical view of truth (realism) and what is true (creation/fall/redemption/consummation) as opposed to postmodernism and scientific naturalism.
B. Therefore, defend Christian truth with competence, confidence, courage, compassion, and creativity (2 Tim. 1:7). There is much at stake (Matthew 25:46).
Sources: Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011); Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism (InterVarsity Press, 2000); On Jesus (