Cornerstone

“We believe that it is possible to answer the rhetorical question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?’”

Chances are you’ve probably never heard of Jacques Derrida. Or Michel Foucault. Nevertheless, it is a sure bet that these individuals, and many others, are part of a philosophical movement that has influenced you and your friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and family as you go about your daily life in Los Angeles. One way of seeing this is to think back to that time you were on the freeway or a street and you saw a “Coexist” bumper sticker with symbols of major world religions. Or perhaps you’ve heard friends and neighbors (even the former vice president of the United States) answer “It’s whom you love!” as an argument in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The movement behind these ideas and people is, of course, “Postmodernism.” According to this prevailing philosophy of our age, absolute truth is illusory. Because everyone has personal biases––their upbringing, what they have been exposed to, the people they have interacted with, the things they have been taught––no one can ever claim to have discovered or know the ultimate truth about the big questions of life: Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? What is the source of all truth? To our modern age, these are deeply personal questions and it is unthinkably arrogant to suggest that there is a one-size-fits-all answer to them. The more you think about it, in fact, the more you realize how pervasive postmodern ideas are in our culture.

Is it any wonder, then, that such a philosophical movement might be opposed to the Bible and its claims? To the French philosophers (like Derrida and Foucault) who claim that the author’s original meaning in any text cannot be transmitted because of reader bias, the Word of God claims: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Ps 119:130). To the “Coexist” bumper sticker, the Bible states that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Perhaps as you read these bold claims from the Word of God, you, too, feel how out-of-place they seem in a time when we have been exposed to so many different points of view, so many diverse cultures, religions, and ethical systems.

Yet even with all that said, our culture is by no means unique in its ultimate rejection of the Word of God. Before Postmodernism, of course, there was Modernism. Birthed after the Age of Enlightenment in France and England, and increasingly dominant in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Modernism held to the notion that man was constantly advancing in his scientific knowledge, and that objective, empirical, materially-based explanations for all of life are to be sought, while any supernatural notions or deities apart from mankind are to be rejected out of hand. 

Even the ancient Romans labelled Christians “atheists” because they rejected all the pagan deities and systems of religion. Instead, they pointed to an obscure Nazarene from a backwater province of the empire and claimed that He was the only Creator of all things and God Himself. They believed in the Jewish sacred writings and claimed that these had foretold the coming of a Messiah who would conquer sin on behalf of His people.

In every era, the claims of the Word of God seem to butt against the prevailing human philosophies of the day. As Christians, we believe that we have the ultimate answer in the very words of God, given to us in Scripture. We believe that it is possible to answer the rhetorical question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” 

If you find this topic of interest and would like to explore more in order to begin examining why we believe what we believe about the Bible, consider listening to audio from our recent seminar on Trusting the Bible. We examined many issues concerning the authority of the Bible. How can we be sure we have the authentic Bible documents in the first place? Why these books, letters, gospels––and not others? What is so special about the Bible, anyway? What about the claims of other religions and their religious texts? Are the critics right when they say that the Bible is full of errors? We tackled these and other questions and shone a spotlight on the Word of God in order to see how it is truly unlike any other book in existence.

Kaspars Ozolins

Kaspars is a member of Cornerstone and serves through teaching.

Additional articles that might be of interest.