Is Truth in Philosophy?

by J.D. Watson

Ephesians 1:13-"In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation"-speaks of Truth. But as we've been asking, where is Truth today? The greatest claim to discovering Truth is made by science, but another claim is laid by philosophy, a word that directly transliterates the Greek philosopha-literally, "love of wisdom."

As the seventeenth-century philosopher Rene Descartes is famous for saying, "I think, therefore I am," there are those who believe that ultimate knowledge can be found in man's own thinking. Philosophy, therefore, has historically been man's attempt to explain the universe around him and the meaning of his own existence.

But as Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer in our own generation has written, man cannot begin with himself and arrive at ultimate reality. Theologian and Christian philosopher Gordon Clark adds that "secular philosophy leaves life without meaning and in utter frustration."

For example, the eighteenth-century Scottish empirical philosopher David Hume, who was famous for his rejection of the miraculous, said: "I am first affrighted and confounded with that forlorn solitude, in which I am placed in my philosophy."

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche mocked Christianity as the religion of weaklings, and was one of the first to proclaim that God is dead. But ultimately, Nietzsche could not live with the implications of his philosophy. He wrote later in life, "Grant me madness," and he did, indeed, get what he asked for, spending the last eleven years of his life in total mental darkness.

Perhaps the most appealing philosophy in our day is Relativism, the theory that there is no objective standard by which Truth can be determined, so that Truth varies with individuals and circumstance. In other words, whatever is true to you is true, but whatever is true for me is also true.

The absurdity of Relativism, however, appears in an incident that happened to Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias. While visiting Ohio State University to speak, his hosts took him to the Wexner Center of the Arts, which happens to be a monument to postmodern architecture. It has stairways leading nowhere, columns that come down but don't quite reach the floor, beams and galleries that go everywhere but nowhere, and a crazy-looking girder system over most of the outside that's pointless. Like Postmodernism and Relativism, it defies every rule of common sense and every law of rationality.

Zacharias looked at the building, cocked his head, grinned, and then said, "I wonder if they used the same techniques when they laid the foundation." That one comment dismantles the whole idea of Relativism. The designers could talk all they wanted about being independent from reality in their decoration, but when it came to the reality of making the building stand up, they were still dependant on a laying a solid foundation.

In spite of its obvious self-defeating nature, however, Relativism is alive and well. What is the cause of Relativism? The major reason is that Relativism is comfortable; it doesn't demand anything. In other words, Absolute Truth makes us responsible, so by rejecting absolutes, we can live the way we want to.

Even more tragic, Relativism has taken over the church today. The old adage, "Well, that's just your interpretation of the Bible," actually comes from the philosophy of Relativism. We see countless examples of this. Catch phrases such as "seeker-sensitive," "purpose-driven," "user-friendly," and "meeting needs" are all built on the foundation of Relativism and its offspring, Pragmatism, which says just do what gets results regardless of what the Bible says. If you embrace Pragmatism, you can use any method that works, you can have any kind of "ministry" you want, and you can present the gospel any way you wish. And if someone dares to discern, question, or "criticize," they are labeled divisive, intolerant, and "politically incorrect."

But Scripture is neither relative nor pragmatic. It deals in absolutes; It deals with Truth in every area of human existence and endeavor.

To be continued

The complete study ("The Truth About the Truth") on which these installments are based, is available online at A 36-page booklet is also available free of charge (Sola Scriptura Ministries; PO Box 235; Meeker, CO; 81641). The booklet includes the plan of salvation and can be used as a witnessing tool ($1.00 per copy in any quantity).

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