Right and Wrong – Personal Choice and Standard

I like Sean McDowell’s experiement that he did once with some young people in a Christian high school to help the students look at the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection being an objective fact and one that should be looked at objectively – examining the evidence.

“I placed a jar of marbles in front of them and asked, “How many marbles are in the jar?” They responded with different guesses, 221, 168, 149, and so on. Then after giving them the correct number of 188, I asked, “Which of you is closest to being right?” They all agreed that 168 was the closest guess. And they all agreed that the number of marbles was a matter of fact, not personal preference.

Then I passed out Starburst candies to each one of my students and asked, “Which flavor is right?” As you might expect, they all felt this was an unfair question because each person had a preference that was right for him or her. “That is correct,” I concluded, “the right flavor has to do with a person’s preferences. It is a matter of subjective opinion, not objective fact.”

Then I asked, “Is the resurrection of Jesus like the number of marbles in a jar, or is it a matter of personal opinion, like candy preference?” Most of my students concluded that the question of the resurrection belonged in the category of candy preference. I concluded the experiment by talking about the nature of Jesus’ physial resurrection – that if we were present at the cross we could have felt the warm blood of Jesus trickling down the wooden planks or even watched him take his last breath. And if we were at the tomb on that morning, we would have seen the stone rolled away and the loincloth of Jesus sitting inside. I reminded them that while many people may reject the historical resurrection of Jesus, it is not the type of claim that can be “true for you, but not true for me.” The tomb was either empty on the third day, or it was occupied – there is no middle ground.”

Here is the problem. People today are applying to all questions a mode of thinking that is legitimate only for certain types of questions. While tastes in candy are certainly a matter of personal preference, that does not mean that questions about truth can be determined the same way. Truth is either objectively true and conforms to reality, or it is simply not truth. Personal preference does not affect the question at all. The attempt to determine spiritual and moral truth by personal preference will lead to certain disaster as it did in ancient Israel in the time when “everyone did whatever he considered right (Judges 17:6 GWT). The resulting anarchy led to unprecedented depravity and the near annihilation of one tribe.

Treating universal truth as personal preference is disasterous because God never intended us to see scriptural truth as optional or to position ourselves as the sole arbiters of what is right or wrong. But that is precisely what people today are doing, and consequently, they are making wrong choices … while thinking they are right.

It is called lawlessness and it is certainly not new. But it is what we are facing in our churches and in the world today. Recognizing this as a current reality and fact will help us to adjust our approach and methods so that we can effectively communicate our message which never changes. Be wise – stay alert to how your culture and society is changing and adjust your methods accordingly.

All Moral Truth Is Up For Grabs – Postmodern

All moral truth is only truth when you choose to believe it. That is what people believe today – young and old. In the absence of foundational training, people have been influenced by a philosophy that permeates much of our society – government, schools, movies, television, and music – and guides much of our behaviors without us even being aware of it. This extremely complex, often contradictory, and constantly changing school of thought can be summarized as the prostmodern belief that: moral and religious truth does not exist in any objective sense.

Instead of “discovering ” truth in a story (such as the Bible) that presents a unifed way of looking at life – postmodernism rejects any overarching explanation of what constitutes truth and reality.

Truth – whether in science, education, or religion – is created by a specific culture or community and is “true” only in and for that culture.

Individual persons are the product of their cultures. That is, we are not essentially unique individuals created in the image of God; our identities are defined by our culture (Eastern, Western, European, urban, rural…).

All thinking is a “social construct.” In other words, what you and I regard as truths are simply arbitrary “beliefs we have been conditioned to accept by our society, just as others have been conditioned to accept a completely different set of beliefs.

Any system or statement that claims to be objectively true or unfavorably judges the values, beliefs, lifestyle, and truth claims of another culture is a power play, an effort by one culture to dominate other cultures.

People have not so much consciously adopted these concepts of truth as they have absorbed them over time. This cultural mindset has permeated every level of today’s society – everywhere.

So here is the problem … people have adopted a view that “all truth is relative to the individual and his/her circumstances.” So while a person may be willing to state that certain things are right or wrong; they believe that it applies only to them personally. People no longer believe in an absolute moral standard or moral truth. They do not believe there is a truth outside themselves that determines right from wrong. They do not believe there is a universal truth that is right for all people, in all places, at all times. Each person has been given the right to do and to say what that person thinks is best for him or her.

Gee, that sounds like the book of Judges where “each man did what was right in his own eyes” and I do believe we could call that lawlessness– at least that is what God calls it.

Here is the major issue for born again believers:

We believe in absolute truth and that God (a Source outsdie ourselves) has set that standard for us. Thus we are not free to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. This is not a personal or cultural or societal choice. It is not a private matter but a matter of fact and stated record.

So, unlike today’s society in which we live that believes that no one should be allowed to impose his or her own ideas of what is right and wrong on another. We believe, as born again Christians, that we have the objective truth and therefore the only truth and that without this truth one will not be living a life pleasing to God and will not be going to Heaven to be with God after this life ends. And, we believe therfore, that we must tell others about this objective truth and He who is Truth and literally convert them to our way of thinking. We are out to change the world – one person at a time.

As a result of this postmodern mindset – Christians are therefore now considered to be narrowminded and bigots who are judgmental and divisive. Our book, the Bible, is being declared hate literature and we are finding ourselves persecuted for what we believe or, at the least, simply written off and ignored as one fringe element of society that is no longer being tolerated or accepted.

This is the challenge that we face as born again believers today in many nations around the world. And, we must rise to this challenge and continue to declare the absolute truth as set out by a Source outside of ourselves and our immediate culture – God Himself. Truth that declares loudly that Jesus Christ is God and is the only way to salvation and eternal life – a personal relationship with God now and forever.

We must declare the answer to humankind’s basic needs and not be intimidated by a culture that is against all that we believe. We must not “go quietly”. In fact, we must go into all the world and declare the real and absolute truth. It is imperative that we do so and seriously urgent that we do so now. It is seriously time to stand up for the truth as seen in the pages of God’s Word, our Bible.