The Truth Gap

CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

The longer I am involved in speaking around the country – and overseas – the greater one gap becomes: I keep getting older of course but I continue to speak to groups of young people. So one can certainly speak of a generation gap here.

But in reality there is a far more important gap developing. I refer to a truth gap. Whereas most people a generation or two ago believed that there was such a thing as truth – and absolute truth at that – increasingly today we are finding an entire generation which has been raised on the destructive pap of relativism.

Millions of young people in the West today have absolutely no conception of such a thing as truth, and are firmly convinced that everything is relative. They have been duped into believing that there are no universal truths and no absolute rights and wrongs.

An acknowledgment of the reality of black and white has been replaced by a commitment to 99 shades of grey. Adherence to objective truth is seen as intolerant, narrow-minded and bigoted. Instead most young folks today luxuriate in subjectivity, relativism and uncertainty.

Thus we have a whole generation who cannot bring itself to say that the Holocaust was wrong, or that destroying marriage is wrong, or that killing unborn babies is wrong, yet will quite readily assure us that what is wrong is to say these things are wrong!

They insist that there are no absolutes, thus relegating “tolerance” into a new absolute. That are absolutely certain that you are wrong when you insist that there are absolutes, and certain things are wrong. They detest with a passion anyone making sure and certain truth claims, themselves being sure and certain that there can be no such things.

They get livid when you say there are some things worth getting livid about. They will fight you to the death when you assert that there are certain things worth fighting to the death over. They will explode in moral indignation when you claim that some things are worth getting morally indignant about.

An entire generation seems to have lost the ability to think, to engage in moral clarity, and to utilise basic logic and rationality. And they celebrate this. They think it is a sign of progress that they have moved beyond mere logic, moral acuity, and mental soundness.

It really comes down to a clash of worldviews. The Judeo-Christian worldview is at complete odds with the secular humanist worldview which now reigns in the West. A generation has been steeped in the latter, and knows nothing about any other competing view of reality.

And as Francis Schaeffer wrote: “We must never forget that the humanist position is an exclusivist, closed system which shuts out all contending viewpoints – especially if these views teach anything other than relative values and standards. Anything which presents absolute truth, values, or standards is quite rightly seen by the humanists to be a total denial of the humanistic position.”

Quite so. For all of its lip service to diversity, acceptance, tolerance and openness, it is implacably opposed to any competing claims. It simply will not tolerate those who believe in absolute truth and universal morality. It will seek to shut down real debate and censor any contrary voices.

I document this on a regular basis. But those raised on this worldview cannot even see the utter double standards. I chat with young people all the time and it is quite amazing to see them get angry with me when I insist that there really is such a thing as truth.

As they seek to argue for their “tolerant” worldview, they quickly become exceedingly intolerant of me, yet see absolutely no incongruity in any of this. They will shout at me decrying my judgmentalism – little realising just how very judgmental they in fact are.

Indeed, as J. Budziszewski has written, “If you really believe that the meaning of tolerance is tolerating, then you ought to tolerate even intolerance. If you really believe that the best foundation for toleration is to avoid having strong convictions about good and evil, then you should not try to harbor the strong conviction that intolerance is bad.”

But all this would be totally lost on these folks. They have little or no ability to think logically or think critically, so they are quite happy to stumble through life in their mental fog, thinking they are somehow superior people because they refuse to judge anyone – except for those who happen to differ from them of course.

Now in the old days when reasoning and careful thinking were still in vogue, you could shame these people into silence by pointing out their obvious double standards, hypocrisy, and utter illogic. But today that does not work on most people.

Rational thought is sneezed at, logic is disdained, moral perception is dismissed, and intellectual coherence is yawned at. So it becomes almost impossible to argue with these people, to hold a proper debate, to engage in an intelligent conversation with them.

Any truth you speak, any facts you offer, or any evidence you present, means nothing to them. They will simply take any countervailing views as “hate” and “intolerance” and denounce you accordingly. They will then leave the room, pat themselves on the back, and think they have somehow won the argument.

Of course this happens all the time amongst today’s worldlings. But the really frightening thing is that perhaps most young people today who call themselves Christians also engage in the same mental mushiness, relativism, and moral myopia.

So many have lost altogether the ability to think, to discern, to critically analyse, to make moral differentiations. Thus they are Christian in name only. They may profess to be believers, but they live, think and act just like pagans. There is no difference at all between their worldview and that of the secular humanists.

That is because they have never learned to think biblically and they have never developed a biblical worldview. They have simply soaked up the prevailing secularism, relativism and sceptism of the surrounding culture. Instead of being transformed by the renewing of their minds, as Paul commands in Romans 12:2, they have allowed their minds to be turned into mush.

As such, they are breaking the greatest commandment which Jesus gave: to love God with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind. This, as Francis Schaeffer said, is part of the “great evangelical disaster”. Those who should know better, who even come from Bible-believing churches, have simply stopped loving God with their minds. Indeed, they have simply stopped using their minds altogether.

But as C. S. Lewis warned, “God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than He is of any other slacker.” We have a generation of believers which needs to repent – repent of its worldliness, its anti-intellectualism, its compromise, and its indifference to truth and morality.

Fortunately there are many notable exceptions to what I have discussed above. There are many fine young believers who use their minds for the glory of God, who have a love of God’s word and a distrust of the world, and who are soldiering on for the Kingdom.

But they are too few and far between. We need an army of young believers to be raised up by God who will champion truth, affirm biblical absolutes, resist compromise, and fearlessly proclaim Christian principles. At the very least we all need to be praying for such an outcome.

If this does not occur, we will simply get much more of what G.K. Chesterton warned against: “a hardening of the heart with a sympathetic softening of the head”. And that is nothing to write home about.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.