Friday, January 13, 2006

Absolute Truth...But Not Absolutely

In addition to Conrad's book, I'm also reading Art Lindsley's TRUE TRUTH: Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World. With recommendations from Chuck Colson and Ravi Zacharias, one might be tempted to think Art's whole argument is an exercise in modernism and, consequently, miss a really helpful book.

Art makes a much needed distinction between believing that absolute truth exists and believing that a person with a finite mind can grasp that truth absolutely or exhaustively. Early on, he writes:

"I am starting with a basic understanding of truth as that which corresponds to reality, as perceived by God. Only God sees reality in al its complexity. What we understand is partial and limited. Yet partial truth can be real truth as long as we do not take it for the whole truth" (p. 19).

One thing that disturbs me about the trending towards postmodernism I see in folks is the tendency to react to modernism's claim to have absolutely grasped absolute truth by claiming that absolute truth is simply a social construct that doesn't even exist. That claim is less postmodernism and more ultramodernism. It says, "If I can't do it, it cannot be done. If I cannot conceive it, it must not exist. Since neither you nor I can be objective, objectivity does not exist. Because none of us knows the truth absolutely, absolute truth must not exist."

We've trumped our forefathers' arrogance with arrogance of our own. The understanding that absolutes exist, whether we grasp them absolutely or not, requires more humility and encourages better dialogue with people who disagree with us over what those absolutes may be.