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Cape Town 2010 Advance Paper

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Truth Matters, Stand Up for Truth

Author: Carver T. Yu
Date: 19.06.2010
Category: Truth and Pluralism

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Editor’s Note: This Cape Town 2010 Advance Paper has been written by Carver T.Yu as an overview of the topic to be discussed at the Morning Plenary session on “Making the Case for the Truth of Christ in a Pluralistic, Globalized World.” Responses to this paper through the Lausanne Global Conversation will be fed back to the author and others to help shape their final presentations at the Congress.

Those of us who live in Asia have for centuries lived with the reality of cultural plurality in general and religious plurality in particular. Yes, we have lived with plurality, but not pluralism. Pluralism has never been an option. Whether you are a Confucianist, or Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu, you have an unwavering conviction that what you believe and live by is truth leading to authentic humanity or eternal salvation, and that all other paths would lead at best to an unfulfilled life and at worst to perversion and suffering. Truth matters, for it has life consequences. While respecting others, you nevertheless see it as your responsibility to point them to the right path. 

The pluralism in vogue today is entirely different. It is an ideology that proclaims that truth is a cultural construction valid only for the culture that constructs it. It has therefore no bearing on another culture or system of meaning. There is no truth that can claim to be truth for all. All truths are relative to one another. The pluralist pushes the point further from cultures to individuals. The individual is now presumed to be the ultimate ground of reality, the foundation on which meaning and values are created. The postmodern pluralist believes that each and every individual creates her own logic and makes her own rules in constructing her own world of reality and value. The individual is “autonomous” in the sense that she is the law to herself. As each individual constructs her own world, there can be, therefore, as many worlds as there are individuals, and each is merely a web of beliefs true only to the individual who weaves it. As these individually constructed worlds are each unique to themselves, they are therefore incommensurable to one another. So, despite all the rhetoric about dialogue, pluralism has rendered all dialogues to be unnecessary and futile. 

At the same time, as truth is fabricated, it can be re-fabricated at will. It is therefore tentative and fluid, and has no lasting bearing on anything. In condemning all truths to be radically relative and tentative, pluralism has in effect silenced any proclamation of transcendent truth true for all human persons and cultures. In the name of condemning dogmatism, pluralism is nevertheless the most dogmatic of all ideologies as it will frame without hesitation any anti-pluralist concept of truth as dogmatism and exclusivism, and reject it out-right. Pluralism as such is the most virulent kind of monism—it is monism of indifference. 

However, it does not take too much critical analysis to see that the pluralist is self-contradicting. In proclaiming pluralism, the pluralist tacitly claims that he stands on a vantage point towering above all cultures or all individuals so as to see their relativity. Yet, miraculously, the vantage point on which he stands is nevertheless absolute. How does he manage to do that? Purely by animal faith and dogmatic claim. 

Keywords: Truth, Asia, pluralism, plurality, culture, individualism, postmodernism, monism, secularism, atheism, consequences, moral values, pragmatism, power, chaos

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dg8074 (2)
United States

I agree completely that we have to preach the truth of the Christian Gospel at all costs.  But first we must determine what the truth really is, and who is qualified to make this pronouncement.  It is not as simple as proclaiming the truth, because most of us do not know what that truth is.  Therefore, we must begin educating Christians first.  At the heart of the Christian faith, what is most important?  Should we teach morality?  If so, who decides what is morally acceptable?  If the Scriptures are the basis, which interpretation is correct?  Should we teach to love one another unconditionally, with our basis in the Sermon on the Mount?  Should we teach the Shema?  The Ten Commandments? The Greatest Commandment?  Or should we simply teach that Jesus loves us and wants to forgive us of our sins and that everlasting life is achievable only through Jesus?


21.10.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Chels (0)
United States
@ dg8074:

You bring up a very interesting point regarding truth: who decides what the truth is. Just as you stated the Bible can be interpreted in a variety of ways so simply saying the Bible is our standard of truth allows for multiple interpretations. Much care, humility, prayer, study ought to be given in discerning truth. Just as you stated, education is vital to this task.


09.12.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Chels (0)
United States

The statemen on p. 2 stood out to me: "Without the divine decree that the human person is made in the image of God, affirmed by the Creator to have absolute value and to be absolutely inviolable, why should anyone take the assertion that “all are born equal." The truth that people are valuable is precious and a fact we ough to stand up for. 


09.12.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down brother_edward (1)
United States

Dear Sir,

talking about the book sex and reason, which autor is Richard Posner, when he says that marriage is just a long term protituiton. First of all, i would like to know a lit bit more about this author background. I can immagine what amount of frustrations this person carries on.

Second point, as a believer in Christ i agree with you when you say we have to preach, and preach Christ alone. I mean, we don`t need to put a beaultiful cover on the gospel of Christ. Apostole Paul said about preaching Crhist and Christ crucified, which is not a pleasant view, when you think in it by just a human view. But that, is the power of the Cross. It is the power of our God over sin.


12.11.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down kmoore21 (0)
United States

The truth may be easily told, but it’s not easily received. But the truth remains the truth, whether its received or not. And it becomes our responsibility to share the truth in love in hopes that a fraction of it will fall on good ground. As advanced as the world has become, there are thousands of people who are perishing for the lack of knowledge because someone failed to tell the truth. We must have enough passion for souls to always share the truth whether its received or not.


11.06.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down brucec (0)
United States

I like the writer’s last statement, “We have to preach the truth of the Christian gospel at all costs.”  This reminds me of my ordination, where an old preacher pointed his finger at me and said, “Preach the truth.  Some things are easier preached.  The truth may be hard, but preach the truth.”  In our world today, there are many teachings and thoughts that are easier to swallow than God’s truth.  People like to hear about “many ways to God,” when the real truth is there is only one.

Without truth, anything becomes okay.  If we think our world is somewhat messed up now, think about how it would be if no one was following the truth that comes from God.  Great paper with some great examples for us to share and use.  Thanks!

 


12.12.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down willie_williams (0)
United States
@ brucec:

Brucec you are right, there is only one way to God who is the father, and that is through Jesus the son, but I think that there are many ways to find Jesus. Make sure we don’t confuse people when we explain the truth about the way to God or salvation.


26.04.2012
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down TomTharpGW (3)
United States

In John 3 while Jesus is talking to Nicodemus He says that the point of Him coming was not to condemn the world but to save it.  Then He says that the people of the darkness would hate the light because it would shine on their dark deeds. (I’m paraphrasing here) This is the explanation.  Why do atheists hate religion in America so much when we don’t tax them as the Europeans do?  Because we get in the way of their decisions that they hope desperately no one will question.  It sickens and saddens me that people who won’t get off of their couches to help another human being will spend money to advertise against those who do.  "Cast down the crosses so they will stop telling us to help people" they shout.  "We don’t want any of your bigotry" they yell as they smear excrement on themselves and then on the church altars.  

The darkness will devour us all if it weren’t for the light.  The deeds done in the dark must be brought to light.  The people need to be shown that the light conquers all and is not to be feared but rejoiced in.  For the light brings more joy and glory than anything that can be done in the darkness!


21.11.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down triedstone1009 (2)
United States

The Word of God declares and ye shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Truth does matter in our world today and we should see the Creator as the One who has given humanity the real truth to live by. In the creation of humankind, the Creator knew of our own biases, and yet He is Soverign enough to allow us to have our own free-will to make our own decisions. Decisions have consequences and we have to be careful that we are making the right choices. I like the illustration about the baby and the student, and became concerned about the student who did not see a life that was about to be taken away but only just seen the body of an individual. Thank you for the response of what if it was the student on the table. We often make decisions without concerning others because we become so self-centered. Truth does matter, as we all shall know the truth and the truth will set us free. Follow peace with all men and women and God will have the last words.

Reggie


11.07.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down PAHayes (0)
United States

"Right before our eyes we see the moral fabric of our social life being torn to pieces."

At this present time with so many pastors in American churches being caught with their pants down it’s no wonder why the moral fabric is being torn to pieces. If we are carriers of the "truth" and yet display actions that do not set us apart, how then are we able to add merit to our claim of the "truth"?


01.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Dmytro_B (1)  
Ukraine
@ PAHayes:

The "truth" never depends on up or down anybody pants. It is just excist. If anything or anybody can change the truth than it is not the truth. Becuse all of christians not act like saints did not metter that our God not Holy. I belive that we dont need to ask what is the truth. All people need to know Who is the Truth.


02.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down John-Hutchinson (0)
Canada
@ Dmytro_B:

Dear B Dymtro:


I am afraid that I must take you to task in regard to your last statement “I believe that we don’t need to ask what is the truth. All people need to know Who is the Truth.”  The statement, if it was not scribbled as one of the unthinking Christian mantras which is common nowadays, bespeaks of a denigration of doctrine.  I know that doctrine has historically been and is now, has been abused for the purposes of intellectual and spiritual one-upmanship.  However, I would suggest that its importance lies in giving guidance and wisdom in navigating the perilous paths of both temporal and spiritual life.  True faith in Christ involves true faith in what He says and acting upon those truths.


02.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Dmytro_B (1)  
Ukraine
@ John-Hutchinson:

 Greetings John!


When i wrote about the Truth in a big way i look on a story with the Pilate and Jesus. As one can ask what is the truth easy to pass by Who is the truth. With all highly positions and mind sets we better not regret to see Christ as the only Truth that God reviled.


02.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dunybec (0)
United States
@ PAHayes:

PHayes,


I am also a student at Gardner-Webb. Getting Masters in Divinty.


We as Christians are to tell the truth. what is truth? John 17:17says "sanctify them by the truth; the truth is your word." The truth then is God’s word the Bible.


09.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down PAHayes (0)
United States
@ Dmytro_B:

B Dmytro,


I appreciate your response.  My comment was based on my concern that the world is not seeing people who are living by the truth.  Therefore in order to counteract the increase of pluralism, we as followers of Christ must set ourselves apart as believers of the truth and live as such.


10.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down PAHayes (0)
United States
@ dunybec:

Dunybec,


I agree that the word is the truth.  My original concern is how Christian American leaders’ actions in the last 5 years are affecting our moral image in society.  How do we as future leaders recapture the many believers who fall prey to the alternatives in pluralism when they no longer believe in those preaching and teaching the truth?


10.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Mojoe (7)
United States
@ PAHayes:

@All


We are not only called to have faith in (truly believe) God, we are also to communicate this belief and propogate the knowledge that we have.  We will NOT be able to communicate truth if people look at our actions and they are counter to what we teach.  This would place our teaching as truth when our actions are lies.  We should not act in such a way because we are told to.  We should act in such a way as to reflect what is in our heart.  Our good deeds or actions are not to earn anything, but are rather reflections of gratitude and emulation.


11.04.2011
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ana_M (0)  
Mexico

I really enjoyed reading this article. I agree with the comment that Scripture should be included in it. But, it addresses boldly the root of the problem with pluralism.

Jesus is the ultimate truth and we are called to tell ir to the world.


02.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dunybec (0)
United States
@ Ana_M:

Becky US


    Bravo on  a good article. But we as the church should proclaim the truth; however, we are too concerned as to how it would look to the secular. I feel one mistake that we have made is being tolarent of other religions.


03.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Mojoe (7)
United States
@ dunybec:

Dunybec and Ana, 


I would love to get your input on a new post of mine concerning tolerance.


http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/detail/11861


04.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down michaelhearnjr (0)
United States

Pluralism is an approaching problem that our societies are having to address. Over past generations we have seen various Christian stances attacked, but this attacks the very conception of truth. The idea that everything is relative is to free one of any responsibility of the consequences of their actions. The Word of God states that it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training (II Timothy 3:16). Pluralism is a ground attack to the validity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth will set us free and it is found in the Scriptures. #dmingml


18.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down mcajas (0)
Guatemala

Excelente artículo. QUienes deseen conversar sobre LA MISION Y LA IGLESIA EN LA VIDA PUBLICA les invito a unirse a nuestro Grupo de Interes disponible en

http://conversation.lausanne.org/es/groups/join/1104/55048
Marco Cajas (Guatemala)


17.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Katherine_Lorance (4)
United States

Thank you for this paper.  The interaction between Dr. Zacharias and the student was a very chilling example of the connection between people rejecting God’s moral authority and the devaluation of human life.  This made me think of the inseparable connection between loving God and loving our neighbors.

Jesus called us salt and light.  I see this paper as a call to repentance.  To the extent that the church has neglected the weak, treated a person as a number or some other object, or failed to embrace and value the truth, the church must take some of the responsibility for "socio-cultural chaos" in its setting.


16.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down jesus_loves_children (0)
Egypt

 I loved the ending that said: "Right before our eyes we see the moral fabric of our social life being torn to pieces, and the human person being depersonalized into a commodity or a set of functions."

This is so true.In many places on this planet, we see this as true , but when we are on the receiving end of harm, I think we will be searching again for the old moral fabric of our society that we have shredded by our own hands.


14.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Sarah_Breuel (0)  
Italy

Thank you for the thoughtful article. I specially appreciated the line "In the name of condemning dogmatism, pluralism is nevertheless the most dogmatic of all ideologies."

From my own context (Brazil - evangelism of university students) it seems that the hardest challenge has not been to debate logically against pluralism, but instead to encourage Christians to be confident and bold that they do hold the thruth of Jesus Christ. I have found Leslie Newbigin readings particularly helpful in that area.

Blessings!


13.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Mark_De_Boer (0)   
Netherlands

Like others, I liked the clear analysis this paper provides for plurality and postmodernist thinking.The different examples are revealing the shocking truth (sic) about current society’s common thinking.

It was probably not meant to be part of this paper, but I would have liked to see some more pointers towards ’solutions’: how do we respond? Just saying that we need to stand up for biblical truth is not enough, in my humble opinion. Actually, a statement like that has often caused more harm than good. As is pointed out in the first part of the paper, people are not receptive for ’objective truths’ anymore - and certainly not ’biblical truth’ in the classic understanding.

I would suggest that we might be closer to pluralists and postmodernists than we think.

First of all: in the gospel, truth is personal - very personal. Jesus Christ reveals himself as the truth. The most common criticism people have regarding Christianity is hypocrisy, where talk & walk are two different things. Interestingly, the word was invented by Jesus himself. His was the living truth because he lived out what he said. In this sense, truth and trust(-worthiness) join hands. Pointing out this definition of truth to pluralists will - in my experience - intrigue them.

Secondly, biblical truth is not a doctrine, nor a philosophy or a set of dogma’s - it is the actual and factual story of God with mankind. The gospel is about something that happened, as Anglican bishop N.T. Wright says. For me, this is not so much a reason to focus on apologetics, but rather a comfort: when people don’t want to accept these historical facts, than probably they simply do not want to know anything about the gospel anyway. The only thing that is left here is to pray.

And thirdly, while truth is not a prevailing question for many around us and certainly not the entry point to get the message of Jesus across, let us focus on those things that can serve as entry points. When we as followers of Jesus build relationships with not-yet-followers of Jesus (meaning: become friends, share lives), we will transfer much more truth than we could ever do by shouting on a street corner.

We can live out the truth ourselves by following Jesus. As we walk in his ’transcendent’ light, others will see it.


13.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Phillip_Siew (1)  
Malaysia

Pluralism is a "self-centered" or "anthropocentric" version of the Fall - humans snatch to be a god sotaht they become the measure of everything. The end result is chaos.  While we should be sentsitive to be false truimphalsitic, we could be humble and confidence to proclaim the truth of the gospel by living the live that is ocnsistent with the truth.


12.10.2010
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Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down kairosfish (4)  
Malaysia

We, the people who know the truth and convinced that it matters should have the motivation to bring the light of truth to a world suffer from moral bankruptcy because of its denial of absolute truth. However, sadly, it seems that at times churches care more to present itself as  "political correct" than to proclaim the truth. We measure our success by how sleek and attractive our programs appear to the world and not by how faithful we proclaim the truth. 


12.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Charlie_Fletcher (0)  
Australia

Thanks for the encouragement to stand for the truth of the gospel in the face of today’s paricular challenges to it. I am intrigued by the paragraph about the relationship between pluralism, secularism and atheism. At a philosophical level, consistent pluralism should relativise secularism just as it does religion, while atheism, particularly the aggressive new atheism of recent years, strives to impose its own absolute values and seems a strange child of relativistic pluralism. Do we need to make more of a distinction at this point between the fact of plurality and the ideology of pluralism? Perhaps the heightened plurality of our globalised world pushes towards secular culture as a lowest common denominator among people, driving an operational atheism that paves the way for its ideological counterpart, while at the same time generating the alternative response of ideological pluralism and its denial of absolutes.


10.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Terry_Kee (0)
Singapore

Thanks for your paper which I enjoyed reading.  Especially the story but Rev. Ravi’s experience.

It never fail to amaze me how a person is so blind to their inconsistences.  Insisting that there is no such thing as absolute truth when in so doing, he is making an absolute statement.

We need to stand up to all the sweet little lies that is decieving the masses. i.e. all religions are the same... we are all basically good ... etc.


10.10.2010
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Tony_F (0)  
Mozambique

Thanks for your paper and its challenge. I find it interesting how quickly some attempt to abandon the reality and nature of truth when addressing moral issues. They believe in the nature of truth in other areas of their life. Even those who embrace pluralism demand correct accounting from their bank and a correct diagnosis from their doctor. Yet when a moral or metaphysical question is raised, all is abandoned except their objection to a consistent view of the nature of truth in all areas of life including the moral. May the Lord help us heed Paul’s word’s “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” as we preach the gospel at all costs to effectively meet the challenge of exposing fraudulent pluralism


10.10.2010
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