Theology, Truth, and Experience

The era of postmodern relativism appears to be fading away in prominence, though it still lingers about with strength in some college and theological circles.  While the theories of relativity has some positive strengths, carrying it to the point of a worldview at the expense of objective and absolute truth statements enters into the world of absurdity.

In the book Christian Theology by Millard Erickson, the author posits that theology is necessary “because truth and experience are related” (p 30).  If a person has run in or visited the world of moral relativity the statement will at the minimum cause an eyebrow to be raised.  Erickson acknowledges the potential reaction and gives these two simple illustrations to help make his point:

While some would deny or at least question this connection, in the long run the truth will affect our experience.  A person who falls from the tenth story of a building may shout while passing each window on the way down, “I’m still doing fine,” and may mean it, but eventually the facts of the matter will catch up with the person’s experience.  We may continue to live on happily for hours and even days after a close loved one has, unknown to us, passed away, but again the truth will come with crushing effect on our experience.  Since the meaning and truth of the Christian faith will eventually have ultimate bearing on our experience, we must come to grips with them (pp 30-31).

In realm of philosophy theories such as moral relativity sound cool but too often end up as unlivable propositions.  It is scary is when some Christians, especially influential leaders, start to try to change and twist the Scriptures to match the current trends of society.  The Emergent movement is a prime example of taking a good thought (contextualizing the message of the Bible to a younger generation) and then going too far.  Instead of showing the relevance of the eternal truth of God in a modern context they have twisted and changed the Bible’s meaning to fit the current mindset of a group of people.  We get books and sermons from the movement that deny the authority of God’s Word, declare moral sins to no longer be sins, and even promote the heresy of universalism.

Ironically, those who change the Bible to meet the current society’s morality have not grown, while those who preach the “old fashioned” truth of the Bible in a way that people today can relate to are seeing church growth. In a chapter that examines the development and lifespan of various theologies over the centuries, Erickson arrives at the conclusion, “Thus, any theology that attempts to tie itself too closely to the present condition in the intellectual world is evidently consigned to early obsolescence… In the scientific terminology of the present day the half-life of new theologies is very short indeed” (pp 64-65).

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One thought on “Theology, Truth, and Experience

  1. Well put.
    Paul’s position is immortal in this; Once Xns live off their profession, they must compromise their Xnity to those who feed their tenures, Swiss trips, publishing spaces, periodical columns, cozy retirement, grand health plans, kid’s college grants and more! Xity from this angle is fried!
    Long live bi-vocational Xnts! i.e., Paulists?

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