When we share what’s objectively true about the nature of God, the claims of Christianity, or truth of the Christian worldview, we show a similar concern for the people we love. Christianity may be true, or it may be false, but one thing is certain: our personal subjective opinion about Jesus won’t change who He is or what He did for us. Don’t be afraid to help people understand that truth involves more than their personal perspective. Your efforts might just save their lives.
You’re in a conversation and someone keeps using the word “truth,” but you get the sense that what they mean by “truth” and what you mean by “truth” are not the same thing. What is “truth”?
What would you say?
Definitions matter. Sometimes we use the same vocabulary, but different dictionaries. And if we want to have good conversations, it’s important that we clarify our definitions. The next time the word “truth” comes up in conversation, here are 3 things to remember:
Number 1: Some people mistakenly treat their subjective claims as though they are objectively true.
“Subjective truth claims” are grounded in the subjects (the people) who make them. My statement, “Chocolate chip cookies are the best dessert,” for example, is a matter of personal opinion. I (as the subject) get to decide if this claim is true, and while it may be true for me, it isn’t necessary true for others. That’s okay, because everyone is entitled to their personal, subjective opinion about a variety of claims, from what they prefer for dessert, desire in a new car, or favor for a movie.
But many people think all truth claims are a matter of personal or cultural perspective. If this is correct, truth is entirely subjective, grounded either in the personal views of individual subjects, or the collective cultural consensus of groups of subjects.
Number 2: Understanding the difference between subjective and objective truth claims can be a matter of life or death.
While my claim about dessert is grounded in my personal, subjective tastes, some claims are true, regardless of my preferences. That’s because they aren’t grounded in the desires of a subject but are instead grounded in the nature of an object. We call these kinds of claims “objective truth claims.”
Imagine, for example, you’re foraging for edible mushrooms with a friend. Your goal is the tasty Asian “paddy straw” mushroom, a variety of mushroom that is used extensively in Asian cuisines. You find one, but your friend abruptly stops you from picking it.