There has been a thought stirring within me for the past month or so, and I’ve finally decided to wrestle it into words. I think the most helpful and clear way to establish my idea is in a question:
How can truth be simultaneously subjective and ambiguous while retaining the very attributes that define it? (Here I’m speaking of truth as we identify and contend with it in the Bible.)
Is truth not law? Is it not something we can trust, hold to, and believe in as objective and constant? I fear that today many of us formulate opinions and ideas around truths that we misunderstand or misidentify. It is my belief that there is no such thing as a subjective truth. We don’t have the power to pick and choose what is true simply because we do or don’t like its implications.
In my observations, it has become trendy among modern Christians to ignore certain portions of the Bible, claiming them to be obsolete or unnecessary. This is an undeniably brilliant (albeit tragic) strategy of Satan to quietly veer us off course. But if we begin to remove authoritative power from parts of the Bible, where do we draw the line? Who becomes the authority on which parts of the Bible we do trust? This slope is treacherous, and in time begins to more and more resemble blasphemy.
Now let me backtrack a little bit and clarify some things. Certainly Biblical truth must be ambiguous, at least to some extent. Jesus changed the game; most* of the Rabbinic, Deuteronomic, and Levitical codes were written to a people without the sacrificial justification of the cross, and this is clearly reflected in the literature of the Old Testament. Besides these things, the diversity of our humanity requires a certain degree of ambiguity in Biblical truths, otherwise they would only apply to a certain few people.
Here’s the important distinction I’m trying to make: The ambiguity of Biblical truth allows for certain variances in experience, character, and apparently time to negate various aspects of the Bible, while a subjective truth would allow these rejections based on whim or preference. I do not view the Bible as a subjective authority.
Following Jesus has never been advertised as a fun or easy pursuit. Often it costs us dearly. I find this to be a helpful reminder for myself, especially when I hear the Bible saying things I don’t like. Perhaps some of our struggle with the truth of the Bible is secretly a resistance to paying the full cost of Christianity. There’s a powerful quote from Tozer that I think summarizes this well:
The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. Tozer, A.W. (2012-09-18). Man: The Dwelling Place of God.
Thankfully, as much as we live under the authority of God and His Word, we also live under His grace.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20
*Notice I didn’t say all of them, but that’s a conversation for a different time.