12: Experiencing Truth

This week John questions what it means for Christianity to “work” and focuses the discussion using a quotation from Os Guiness’ Time for Truth: “Christianity is not true because it works, but it works because it’s true.”  So John questions the role of personal experience in arbitrating truth.

Gregg makes the distinction between absolute and relative truth.  So while many Christians focus on absolute truth (such as claiming the Bible and God’s existence are absolutely true), Gregg notes that humans understand the world in relative terms, and so can only evaluate absolute truth claims by their personal, relative experience of those claims.  Further, where Os Guiness indicates that Christians should avoid pragmatism, relativism, and subjectivism (which are ideologies), Gregg argues that being pragmatic, relative, and subjective are not only unavoidable but essential in evaluating the claims about God and Christianity.

This is particularly so when considering the Christian claim that God loves me and that God is good because (Gregg notes) love is not a concept to be understood but a experiential reality between people (or here, between people and God) that is to be live and embraced.  So where Christians lack the experience of God’s love this is a substantial problem, though testimony of others can “stand in,” to a certain extent, for personal experience.

Gregg concludes by noting that out of all the many and diverse religious perspectives, none have any greater claim to absolute truth than the others. Instead, it is the nature and experience of that truth–experiential reality, for example, of God’s love and truth–that is the most persuasive reason for embracing it,  And Gregg claims that God wants us to understand how deeply God loves us–God is not a miser with God’s love for us.

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