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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, August 27, 2015


 "And justice is turned away backward, and righteousness standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and uprightness cannot enter.  Yea, truth is lacking; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. And Jehovah saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice."  
Isaiah 59:14-15

In an earlier study, I prepared a very simple study for my children to prepare them to understand the worldly philosophies of relativism.  In this study I want to explore this controversy more deeply.


Some very intelligent professors who do not believe in the God of the Bible have spun some impressive theories and philosophies to justify their rebellion against their Creator.  They have attacked the foundations of truth and common sense in such a way that we as simple men are often dazed and confused.  Let’s see if we can make sense of this attack on reason and give an answer that would please God and defend our precious faith.

When Jesus stood before Pilate He said, 
"Therefore Pilate said to Him, 'So You are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'  Pilate said to Him, 'What is truth?"'

For many the concept of truth is somewhat deep, esoteric and indefinable.  For others, it is a very simple question.  Of course, when answering it is not as simple as it seems to be.  Some suggest definitions like, "Truth is that which conforms to reality, fact, or actuality."  Unfortunately, this basic definition of truth is not complete.  Why?  Because its definition of truth is open to interpretation and a broad variety of applications.  It has been said that "The discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy."  Without a doubt, we are in deep water over such a subject.   I want to be clear here and avoid deep philosophy by simply asking:  
  • What is reality?  
  • What is fact?  
  • What is actuality?  
  • How does perception affect truth?   

Clearly, we can give many answers to each of these questions.  In addition, we can ask equivalent questions to those answers.  Would you say that the statement "6 is less than 7" is true?  Certainly you would say yes, since you are employing the standard rule of mathematics.  This is a validated statement of truth since it is recognized as a universal fact.  Is the statement "light travels faster than sound" true?  Naturally you would say yes since you are using a familiar scientific fact.  How about the statement, "the Roman Empire existed" is true?  Again, it is obvious you would say yes since your answer is based upon a historical fact.  

Now, if we were to throw a ball against a wall, we will assume that the ball would get half way there, then halfway of the remaining distance, then half of that distance and so on.  It would seem as if the ball would never reach the wall if we were to apply the conceptual truths of halves.  The ball-against-the wall context demonstrates that when one tries to define and redefine things as our goal, it actually prevents us from getting to that approaching goal.  You see this is what philosophy does so many times as it seeks to examine truth.  It clouds issues to such a great degree that nothing can be known for sure.

Even though it is true that an infinite number of halves (1/2 of "a" + 1/2 of the remainder + 1/2 of the remainder of that, etc.) does not equal a whole, we can definitely "prove" that it does just by throwing a ball at a wall, watching it bounce off.  As a matter of fact, the above "1/2" equation does NOT equal a whole-mathematically. Again, the problem is not in the truth but in its application as is often the case with philosophical verbal gymnastics.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."  Colossians 2:8

So, in order for truth to be defined correctly, it would have to be a factually and logically correct statement.  In other words, it would have to be true.  The point is that truth is not error, self-contradictory and is not deception.  Even though, one is being deceptive, that does not necessarily mean that the deception itself is not truth.

 Now then, we have a fundamental definition of truth:

A statement is true if it agrees with established fact - with what is really there - with reality.

In a few words, if you say "it is" and it is in reality, then you are speaking the truth.  That means the statement must be accurate and correct in order to be true. One philosopher puts it more concisely: 

 "Truth is the agreement of knowledge with its object."  

Notice that this definition of truth does not depend on opinion or belief.   If we say something is true since we accept it by faith without establishing the facts, then we are on shaky ground.  Let us consider another example:  

Since Tom is taller than Susan and Susan is taller than Mary, then we can affirm that "Tom is taller than Mary."  This is true since it is logically correct.  Therefore, we can say:

"For a statement to be true it must agree with knowledge (fact or reality), or be logically correct, or both, depending upon the context."

Hence, my question is:  Why is the world falling apart?  The obvious answer is because truth is lacking!


A.   What is Relativism?

It is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual.  It means that all moral positions, religious systems, art forms, political movements and so on are truths which are relative to the individual.  Consider the following groups of perspectives under the umbrella of relativism:

  1. Cognitive relativism (truth):   It affirms that all truth is relative.   It means that no system of truth is more valid than another one.  It also asserts that there is no objective standard of truth. It obviously denies that there is a God of absolute Truth.
  2. Moral/ethical relativism:  It states that all morals are relative to the social group within which they are built.
  3. Situational relativism:  It affirms that ethics (right and wrong) are dependent upon the situation.

Now, suppose Susan (a Christian) says she worships a personal God, while Tom (a Pantheist, one who believes that everything is a god) says he worships a god who is in everything and everyone, and that God is not personal.  So, who is speaking the truth?   It is possible that neither of them is speaking the truth, but what we can say is that both cannot be speaking the truth.  We can say this since the law of non-contradiction states:

"Two contradictory prepositions cannot both be true at the same."

This law is a problem for the Postmodernist theory of relativism, namely, "there is no ultimate truth; truth is relative to persons, times, circumstances or culture."  The statement "you must drive on the left hand side of the road" is true in the UK but not in the U.S.  Yes, "truth" is culture dependent in such cases.  It is a "local" truth.  So what about the universal truth being debated by Susan and Tom?   The relativist would definitely say that both Susan and Tom can be equally correct since "truth is relative to the individual."  But, "God is personal" and "God is not personal," cannot be true since they are two contradictory propositions at the same time.  This would violate the law of non-contradiction.  Therefore, relativism in this context is specifically false and misleading. 

Moreover, relativism is logically incorrect.  In view of the fact that it argues that truth is relative to the individual, it would have to affirm that there are no absolute truths.  The statement "there are no absolute truths" is itself an absolute, that is, a conclusive statement which obviously is supposed to be true.  

So, my question is:  How can one believe such a statement when one is told "there are no absolute truths"?  Such a statement is illogical.  Thus, relativism is not true.  Why?  First, because it is logically incorrect since a statement is true only when:
  • It agrees with established fact.
  • It agrees with what is really there.
  • It agrees with reality.  
Take notice that in order for a statement to be true it must agree with knowledge (fact or reality), or be logically correct, or both, depending upon the context.

Second, it violates the law of non-contradiction.

The false concept we have just discussed is "cognitive relativism," which argues that all truth is relative.  Our culture today holds fast to "moral" relativism, namely, "morals are relative to culture and society.  So, all morals are equally valid."  This is definitely a very critical issue since it raises the question of what is right and what is wrong (ethics).

B.   What is Pluralism?

It is the belief that reality is composed of many parts.  There are different kinds of pluralism. Consider each of them:
  1. Religious pluralism: which teaches that all religions are true and are equally valid ways to God, even though they might contradict each other.    For example, it states in the name of 'tolerance,' "your way through Jesus is true," and "my way through meditation is true."  
  2. Ethical Pluralism:  It teaches that some different moral systems are equally valid even though some maybe better than others.
  3. Scientific Pluralism:  Maintains that there can be different explanations for similar circumstances.
  4. Political Pluralism:  Acknowledges different governmental systems as being valid.
  5. Cultural Pluralism:  Affirms that divergent cultures are equally valid, even though some maybe more utilitarian and beneficial to society than others.
Thus, pluralism stands in opposition to an absolute correct  system or belief.  It also contradicts all Biblical teaching  that there is one absolute and supreme being  (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 45:5-6); that Jesus is the only Way of salvation from the righteous judgement of God (Acts 4:12); and that the Bible alone is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).

Alas, in our culture today the philosophy of relativism is pervasive.  Why?  Because,

  • God is rejected and so is Christianity.  
  • All absolute Truth is being renounced.  
  • We live in a pluralistic society that wants to avoid at all cost the concept of right and wrong (ethics).  One evidence of this is our deteriorating judicial system that seems to be having trouble punishing criminals.  
  • Our judges cannot even support the public rejection of same-sex marriage, abortion and so on. 
  • We also see this in our entertainment media which continues to push their immoral and indecent agenda.  
  • Another example is our schools which zealously want to indoctrinate our people and our children with "evolution" and "social tolerance," and so on.  

Moreover, this plague of moral relativism is encouraging enormously the acceptance of homosexuality, pornography, voyeurism, fornication, adultery and a host of other pervasive "sins." Sins that were once regarded as wrong but are now being accepted and promoted among our people. This is becoming so pervasive that if one speaks out against such moral relativism and its "anything goes" philosophy, one is labeled as an "intolerant bigot."  This, of course, seems to be hypocritical of those who profess that all points of view are true, and yet reject those who profess absolutes in morality.  To them all points of view are true EXCEPT for all those views that teach moral absolutes, an absolute God, or absolute of right and wrong (ethics).

The statement "all religions are equally valid pathways to God" can be proven false when establishing that "absolute" truth exists and that it contradicts such a statement.  This is true since two contradictory propositions cannot be true at the same time.


As we have discussed earlier, logically, absolute truth must exist.   And if truth does not exist, then it will absolutely be impossible to believe there is no absolute truth!  Yes, there are such things as absolutes.  Likewise, there are also things that are relative.  But, if everything were relative, then it would be absolutely true that everything is relative and that would be self-refuting.  In similar fashion, if everything were absolutely true, then one couldn't have personal preferences over things or things that change.  Relative truths can be things dependent upon each person.

Furthermore, one person may believe that red is a better color than blue where another person might disagree.  In this case, what is true for one person is not necessarily true for the other one.  Hence, there are truths that are relative that change.  So, the person who believes that red is a better color than blue may change his mind afterward.

Sadly, there are many people who are not able to distinguish between absolute truths and relative truths.  They put their feelings and preferences above absolutes making them more pleasant and acceptable.  A typical example they would say is that "it is true for you that Jesus is the only way to God, but to a Muslim, Mohamed would be the only way."  Such statements disregard the logical probabilities of having two "only-ways" to God. So, there are absolutes as well as things that are relative.

A.   Examples of Absolute Truth:

Take for example Susan's statement that "God is personal" (notice that Tom had said earlier that God was impersonal).  For Susan to affirm this, she must have implied that she had a personal, clear, provable interaction with God.  Perhaps, like most of us, Susan could have based her statement on the historical records in the Bible.  In the Bible, we find many examples where God interacted with individuals or groups of people.

Take for instance,
  • When the Israelites cried out to God to free them from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:31).  
  • The walls of Jericho that fell down flat when certain conditions were fulfilled (Joshua 6:20). 
  • When David defeated Goliath in the name of the LORD (I Samuel 17:41-50).  
  • Daniel when he received divine revelation of Nebuchadnezzer's dream (Daniel 2:19).  
  • In the New Testament, we read of Paul's sudden conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).
  • Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison (Acts 12:6-11).  

Notice that each of these events occurred in the public domain and could have never been the invention of someone.  To disregard an event one would have to ignore the eye witness of all the people involved.

Needless to say, the historical accuracy and the reality of these events could be challenged and called into question.  So the question is:  How do we now all these Biblical accounts are not just myths? Simply, because we know they are real (true) supplied from  an abundance of archaeological evidence.  Let us consider some quotes made by several well-known archaeologists:

"The narratives of the patriarchs, of Moses and the exodus, and of the conquest of Canaan, of the judges, the monarch, exile and restoration, have all been  confirmed and  illustrated to an extent that I should have thought impossible forty years ago."  W.F. Albright
" may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.  Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline in exact detail historical statements in the  Bible."  N. Glueck

The truth is that we accept the Bible accounts on the basis of historical reality (fact).  These are all true because they really happened.   This leads me to this question:  Was God involved?  Of course, He was!

  • Do you suppose that the walls of Jericho fell down because an earthquake might have occurred when the Israelites blew their trumpets and shouted?   
  • Do you think that David might have been just lucky with his sling when he killed Goliath?  
  • It would be hard to prove that God was involved at each event, but if what Tom (who claims God to be impersonal) is attempting to dismiss or remove God from these and other astounding, remarkable historical events altogether, he would have to create or generate some quite extraordinary explanations.   
  • Who revealed the king Nebuchadnezzar's dream to Daniel?  
  • Who blinded Paul on his way to Damascus?   
  • Now, Tom would have to discredit these and many other Biblical examples in order for him to make a rational, logical case.  On the other hand, Susan's case based on historical fact, foundation, is found to be more credible, even though it cannot be completely proven solely on historical grounds.  
  • The Bible claims her assertion.  Therefore, it is an absolute truth!  God is personal.  This absolute truth is not relative to culture or time.  It is outside man's rule.  It is non-negotiable!


We have just studied the concept that many portions of the Bible have been verified as true by archaeological evidence.  But there is another method of establishing the Truth of the Bible by means of prophecy.  Take note that there were more than 300 prophecies about Jesus as the Messiah that were fulfilled at His first coming.  They were proven to be true by historical fact.  Bible prophecy is absolute Truth since it is non-negotiable.  It is fulfilled in detail.

The Word of God maintains that the Sacred Text is inspired by God.  Therefore, it must be absolutely true that God is real and to be trusted on this assertion.  The Bible also maintains that Jesus is divine and is part of the "Godhead." Verily, Jesus is the source of absolute Truth when He said: 

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life..."  John 14:6

Here Jesus is claiming all truth (including Biblical truth) comes from Himself.  Since He is "one" with the Father, He reveals truth that originates from the Godhead and the Holy Spirit as the mechanism of Truth revelation. Moreover, Jesus claimed that absolute truth exists by being dogmatic on such issues as heaven and hell, morality, creation, judgment and the need for salvation and reconciliation to God. Christians are often accused of being fundamentalist or dogmatic, but they are simply following Biblical teaching, which claims to be transcendent.

Furthermore, Jesus referred to parts of the Old Testament as true.  Therefore, we must accept those parts of the Bible as true, logically.  His claim to truth is tested against established knowledge, fact and logic.  The fact that Jesus said He would rise three days after His death (John 2:19), and that He was seen on ten different and independent occasions after His death (in one occasion by more than 500 people) establishes with certainty His prophecy of His resurrection as absolutely correct.  Jesus as a matter of fact spoke absolute truth on this occasion since it was confirmed or verified by substantial and solid historical fact.  Notice what Jesus said:

"... no one cometh unto the Father, but by me."  John 4:6

According to the law of non-contradiction, if we accept all of Jesus' declarations as absolute truth, then religious pluralism cannot be true.  All religions are not equally valid ways to God.

Lastly, some argue that "the only truth is that which can be scientifically proved."  An atheist would take this position and so maintain that "evolution is the only true explanation of our world since it is scientifically proved."  The whole concept of creation is dismissed as unproven and untrue.  But is this true?  Is there no unreliability or uncertainty in such an assertion?

For a statement to be "true," it has to be proven as correct beyond all doubt.  Evolutionists must admit that their case is not proven beyond all doubt.  Likewise, they must also admit that evolution is a theory rather than absolute truth.  Some say that "truth is a word best avoided in science," while others speak of "tentative or approximate truth." This is so since in matters like evolution, science cannot make a claim of absolute truth.   Science is merely man's view of our world's reality rather than God's.

For us Christians, the utmost expression of Truth is found in the Word of God, the Bible, John 14:6. Needless to say, most philosophers and skeptics will dismiss and disregard Jesus' claim of Truth.  But for us Christians,

  • Jesus is our cornerstone of hope, security and guidance.  
  • Jesus walked on water.
  • Rose from the dead.
  • Claimed to be divine.
  • He is the Truth and the Author of all Truth.  
  • Jesus was indeed right, therefore, it is also true that we must listen to Him and obey Him.

Those who were the eyewitnesses testified,

  • What they saw. 
  • That they were with Him.
  • That they watched Him perform many miracles; heal the sick; calm a storm with His command.
  • And that He arose from the dead.  
If you willingly dismiss all these claims, that is your choice.  But if you accept them all, then you have to make choices about Jesus, believe that He is true and that He is the source of all absolute Truth.  Truth conforms to reality.


Graded absolutism is also known as Biblical situation ethics.  This view acknowledges that there are higher and lower moral laws, and that when they conflict the Christian is responsible for following the higher law.   Many critics would agree it is a new or different version of moral relativism, where they agree with Dave Miller that "[graded absolutists] maintain that Jesus permits us to violate His will at times for the sake of convenience.  If compliance with His Words becomes inconvenient, then those words must be treated as optional... For them, right and wrong, truth and error are obscure, blurred, hazy, gray, and complex."  Yet, Dave Miller misrepresents graded absolutism, ignoring that what is at stake is not just a desired end (which may or may not be subjective) but a higher moral law. These higher moral laws such as justice, mercy, love and faithfulness are mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as the "weightier matters of the law." (Matthew 23:23); and that "the greatest  commandment" is defined in  Matthew 22:38.  A graded absolutionist understands that lying is, in and of itself, always wrong but not to save innocent lives (namely those of the Jews).

Let us consider Matthew 12:1-8, one of the favorite "proof test" for the advocate of graded values: 

"At that season Jesus went on the sabbath day through the grainfields; and his disciples were hungry and began to pluck ears and to eat.  But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which it is not lawful to do upon the sabbath.  But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was hungry, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and ate the showbread, which it was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them that were with him, but only for the priests?  Or have ye not read in the law, that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?  But I say unto you, that one greater than the temple is here.  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.  For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath."

Since Matthew 12:1-8 is a favorite proof text to support Biblical "situation ethics," or "graded absolutism," it is crucial that one analyze this text carefully.  Does this text really teach "graded absolutism"?  When seeking an answer, one must not confuse the teachings of men like David Miller with the teachings of Christ.  The answer rests in one's definition of ethics.  If our ethics are of Biblical origin rather than humanistic origin, there will be no room to deny the plain teachings of the Scriptures.  Sadly, some Christians believe that such a position changes God's Law for the sake of convenience.

Dave Miller complains about the position some Christians take concerning Biblical situation ethics. He apparently does not care to express the Truths of God more accurately for our culture.  He asserts:

"A favorite "proof test" of the situation ethicist and , increasingly, of the libertine within the church, is the incident recorded in Matthew 12:1-9.... Some have suggested is passage teaches that times arise within the Christian's life when he must break the "letter of the law" to keep the spirit of the law."  They maintain that Jesus permits us to violate His will at times for the sake of convenience.  If compliance with His words becomes inconvenient, then those words may be treated as optional.... For them, right and wrong, truth and error are obscure, blurred, hazy, gray and complex.  What is wrong in one situation may be right and acceptable in another.   (Miller, “Matthew 12 and Situation Ethics.”)

Dave Miller overstates his case.  He accuses, without evidence, other Christians of manipulating the Law of God to justify their own selfish purposes or desires.  In other words, he accuses Christians of blatantly disregarding God's Word by saying, "If I do not like what God said, then, I will violate the law to accomplish my desired ends so that I am obeying the "spirit of the law."  Is this the philosophy of true Christians?  Of course, NOT!  Christians must understand that they do not and must not advocate the breaking of God's Law "for the sake of convenience."  Dave Miller makes the absurd assertion without facts to justify his allegations against Christians who rely upon Jesus' teachings in Matthew 12 to draw conclusions that differ with his.

There are situations in life when there seem to be "higher" and "lower" absolute Truths.  Jesus said,

"but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery." Matthew 5:32.  

What is our modern culture to make of that?  If this statement is just relative to the time and culture of Jesus' days, i.e. it is a relative truth, therefore we can disregard or ignore it today.  BUT since Jesus claimed it to be "the Truth," then we must regard it as Truth.  This statement is made alongside others such as:  anger, lust, vows, retaliation and how one treats his enemy (Matthew 5:21-48). Notice that Jesus emphasizes a better, and more perfect Law or Way compared to that of the Old Testament on each matter, so as to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17).

In the case of divorce and remarriage, Jesus is declaring an absolute, timeless Truth, namely, that God's ideal intent is for husband and wife to work hard at their marriage and not to regard divorce as an option or way out.  Someone may ask:  

  • What if the husband is a pantheist and does not believe in Jesus’ teachings, does his wife have a Biblical way out?
  • What if the husband insists that their marriage is irretrievable and wishes to leave, wishing to leave in peace since we are called to peace, I Corinthians 7:15?  Here we have a case where a great truth (the importance of the marriage bond) is replaced by a lesser truth, namely, that both husband and wife are called to peace.  “Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave.”  (I Corinthians 7:15)

Consider another example.

Suppose a Christian was drafted into the army.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)  Again He said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)  At the same time, the civil government is obligated to protect the public from violent men as well as from invading armies, Romans 13:1-4. Should the Christian take this command to be a peacemaker as a condemnation of all resistance toward evil men even for the preservation of the family?  On the other hand, one may read from the Old Testament:  "....  what does the LORD require of you but to do justice...." (Micah 6:8), and "to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of yoke, and to let the oppressors go free ...." (Isaiah 58:6).  Do these Scriptures call on us to go to war against every country that enslaves or oppresses their people?  To be fair to the context of these Scriptures, we must recognize that the prophets are speaking of personal obligations and not national ones.  Again, this is another example of greater and lesser absolute Truths (graded absolutism).  The Old Testament surely speaks Truth, but Jesus speaks of a much higher, more perfect Truth.  

In today's culture, many are trying to introduce laws on "religious hatred."  The substance of such a law is that a person of faith must never say or write anything that could be interpreted as insulting or offensive to another.  Under such law it would be very difficult for any Christian to say "Jesus is the only Way to God,"  (John 14:6).  And since the Christian must obey the law and "be in subjection to the authorities"  (Romans 13:1), then it is argued that a Christian must not say or write anything which could be construed as offensive and insulting.  It is indeed true that we must obey the law of the land, but Jesus calls us Christians to be the salt and light of the earth and to go into all the nations and preach the gospel of salvation, Matthew 28:19.  For the Christian, this is absolutely true and correct.  This is another example where we must choose between two truths.  The followers our Lord and Savior would respond by choosing the higher Truth when they are put in a situation like this.

"We must obey God rather than men."  Acts 5:29

There are many other examples of higher and lower Truths (graded absolutism) in the Bible. Perhaps, the simplest and most explicit one is Jesus' remarks "this is the greatest and foremost commandment."  Matthew 22:38.  Here Jesus is effectively declaring that, "whatever else you do, the most important Truth to follow is this":

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."  Matthew 22:37

Therefore, it is vital to acknowledge that all these examples are not mere illustrations of moral relativism but rather examples of higher and lower Truths.  We, Christians, must aim for the higher Truth or Law.

May we always be in submission to God's higher Truth or Law.  May the LORD help us to keep our eyes always open to His revealed Truth.

Let me leave you with the wise and thoughtful counsel of Ecclesiastes 3 which demands that we discern what is appropriate and when to carry it out.

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace."
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)