The Nature of Truth and Why It Matters to the Faith of Our Kids

No other religion emphasizes the importance of truth like Christianity. God in His infinite wisdom knows the high value of truth and does not hold back from us. Truth holds power and truth is necessary. And as sons and daughter of God, truth is our right.


As I’m wrapping up my manuscript and preparing it for publication, I thought I would post one more excerpt. This is from “Chapter 14: Apologetics and Worldviews” of my upcoming book, Pouring In, Inspiring a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation. (Greg Schrock also contributed to this chapter)


What do our kids need to know to be able to give a reasoned defense for their faith? They need to be able to answer these five questions.

  1. What is truth?
  2. Why do I believe God exists?
  3. Why do I believe Jesus is the Son of God?
  4. Why do I believe the Bible is true?
  5. How does being a Christian affect my life?

 

What is Truth?

Frank Turek and Norman L. Geisler in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, claim that “truth is a casualty of our popular culture. And when truth goes, the authority of the gospel is undermined.”[1]

According to dictionary.com, truth is the true or actual state of a matter, or, a proven or verified principle or statement. If truth is proven and verified, it is absolute, not relative.

Think about it: if truth is relative, why should our kids go to school? If they can just decide their own truth, than what is the point of learning math, science, or history? Without objective, absolute, truth, nothing they learn in school is relevant to anyone except the person teaching it.

Our entire civilization is run by the objective truth of numbers. We count on numbers for finances, temperature, speed, time, grades, taxes, etc. If we didn’t agree on a set of objective truths about numbers, our society could not function.

Truth, by its very nature is exclusive. If something is true, it means that contradictory statements are necessarily false. Nobody doubts this when it comes to the hard sciences; people believe that the statement “gravity exists” is objectively true, and that the statement “gravity does not exist” is objectively false. But, when it comes to religion and worldviews, people have no problem saying “Christianity may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”

However, truth is objective, meaning, it is attached to the object, and it is therefore unchanging. What people are claiming today is that truth is subjective, meaning, it is attached to the subject. They claim for each individual person, or subject, there may be a different truth.

For example, take the sentence “Doug caught the red ball.” In this sentence, Doug is the subject, and the ball is the object. There is an inherent truth about the ball—the ball is red. It makes no difference what Doug, the subject of the sentence, believes the color of the ball to be. Doug might sincerely believe the ball is blue, but that does not change the fact that the ball is red. The subject’s beliefs are irrelevant to objective truths.

Religion is perceived as something that helps one get through life; and if that indeed is its purpose, then of course each person will have their own religious beliefs that are useful to them. It can be likened to a therapy session; in order to help a patient, the counselor tailors the session to the subject they are counseling.

It is this misperception of religion that has led so many people to believe in the relative truth of religious worldviews, rather than in absolute truth. One of the most critical lessons we need to teach our kids is that absolute truth can be applied to religion as much as it is applied to chemistry, economics, and mathematics.

Religion is not a matter of opinion, convenience, or utility. It is an objective reality of the universe. There is one set of facts about God that is objectively true. Any view of God that doesn’t correspond to these truths is necessarily false.

There is one view of attaining salvation that is objectively true; all other views are false. There is one view of the spiritual world that is objectively true. There is one view of our eternal destiny that is objectively true. All views contrary to these truths are as false as the statement two plus two equals five.

To illustrate, consider common statements that we hear in our culture, and replace key terms with words of a different subject matter. Consider the following statement that I mentioned earlier:

How can you believe that Christianity is the only right way? How close-minded and intolerant!

Now let’s replace Christianity with, say, geography.

How can you believe that seventy-one percent of the earth is covered in water? How close-minded and intolerant!

Let’s try mathematics.

How can you believe that eleven, seventeen, and twenty-nine are prime numbers? How close-minded and intolerant!

Let’s try biology.

How can you believe that the heart pumps blood? How close-minded and intolerant!

These statements suddenly sound so absurd! When you accept that religious truths are just as objective as these other sciences, you realize there must be one true worldview. If there is one objectively true worldview, then all contrary worldviews must be false.

Determining which worldview is true is a different matter.

Which worldview is true? Maybe it is Atheism, which believes there is no God. Maybe it is Hinduism, which believes there are three hundred thirty million gods. Maybe it is Mormonism, which believes that we can become gods. Maybe it is Christianity, which believes that there is a Trinitarian God.

Each person must answer this question, through further study, for themselves to determine which religion is actually true. But first, we need to establish that there are objective truths in religion.

I believe the Bible is the absolute, objective, truth. But don’t take my word for it. Study and discover for yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.

God gave us His Word, so we would know the truth and would not be deceived. Without the existence of objective truth, the Christian faith has no power. Truth is foundational to our faith.

“Two-thirds of Americans now deny there’s any such thing as truth.”[2]—Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith

Our kids must leave our homes with the keen ability to identify and defend truth. Establishing that truth is not relative or subjective, but rather, objective and absolute, is essential to our kids’ faith.

[1] Frank Turek, Norman L. Geisler, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 8.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 146.

5 Reasons why Christians should learn apologetics

Several months ago, when my Sunday school class learned that we were going to study apologetics, there was an audible groan in the room. Most people were less than enthusiastic.

I just don’t understand it. Maybe I am a nerd, but I am excited about apologetics!

Can apologetics be boring? Sure. But so can anything else. Literature, politics, science, current events, even music or movies can be boring. Heck, this blog post is probably boring!

Often, it isn’t the subject that’s boring, it’s the delivery.

I’m not a big fan of history. However, I have watched some fascinating documentaries. And, lo and behold, I learn something! Also, historical movies that are true stories are some of my favorites. 

So, when it comes to apologetics, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!


Why do you believe in God? Why are you a Christian? How would you answer these questions if you were asked? Most of us would be stumped.

What if someone called you closed minded for believing that Christianity was true and all other religions were false? The exclusivity of Christianity is its greatest criticism today. How would you defend a faith that claims there is only one truth?

The majority of us would have difficulty addressing these subjects.

As followers of Christ, most of us tend to have an experiential and emotional relationship with God. We feel Him. He is in us.

However, feelings tend to be hard to articulate, and, they are less than convincing to an outsider. Answering skeptics questions based on feelings or an experience might not always be effective.


There are 5 reasons why Christians should study apologetics

1.  We are told to do so in scripture

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.  1 Peter 3:15

2. To defend Christianity & spread the Gospel

It is crucial for us to respond to attacks on our faith. We must be able to answer the skeptic’s questions. We must have a defense.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.   2 Corinthians 10:5

The Great Commission commands us to go out and make disciples. But, what kind of witnesses will we be if we look like bumbling idiots when we are challenged?! Who would want to join a religion full of dummies?

We must explore fundamental questions.

  • What evidence is there that God exists?
  • What evidence is there that God created the universe?
  • How do you explain evolution or the big bang?
  • How can one address the problem of suffering?

Emotional and relational people may be won over by loving relationships with people they trust. However, most likely, intellectuals will need to hear arguments for the existence of God, Creation or the resurrection of Christ.

Arguments such as . . . . 

  • The Cosmological Argument
  • The Fine Tuning Argument
  • The Moral Argument
  • The Contingency Argument

And we must always remember to present arguments with gentleness and respect.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.   Colossians 4:5-6

3. To have a strong foundation

Between 50 & 75% of young people raised in a Christian family leave the church after they leave their home. There is an abundance of research on this topic. The numbers may vary slightly from one study to the next. But they all come to the same conclusion. We are losing our kids.

The daunting reality is that a majority of youth group graduates lose their faith when they leave home. Why? Our kids aren’t developing a personal faith in Jesus Christ. They don’t leave home with a firm foundation.

Many of them don’t know why they believe in God or Jesus Christ.

We all need to know why we believe what we believe. That is our foundation. And, kids need to know why they believe, apart from their parents.

(there may be a book coming . . . . )

4. To love God with our minds

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind  Luke 10:27

Are you using your whole heart, soul, strength and mind to love God? I ask myself this question frequently. I know that I often fall short.

Loving God with all our minds means keeping our mind sharp. It means discovering all that God has for us. It means meditating on scripture, not just reading it. It means spending time pondering the things of God.

He gave us minds so we could love Him through our intellect. After all, all knowledge comes from God.

Here are some stimulating topics that may peak your curiousity.

  • What does the Second Law of Thermodynamics have to do with the existence of God?
  • How do Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the expansion of the universe, and the red shift point to a Creator?
  • Why does the existence of God explain intentional states of consiousness in the world?
  • What are some of the fundamental constants and quantities of the universe that seem to have been carefully dialed by a Creator to an astonishingly precise value that falls within an exceedingly narrow, life permitting range? (reasonablefaith.org)

Discovery is a gift that can enrich our faith, and cause us to fall more deeply in love with Elohim, the Creator God.

5. To see more of God’s character; to know Him more

While on the treadmill in the morning, I listen to William Lane Craig’s Sunday school class called Defenders. In the first class, he said that they would be exploring the attributes of God. I thought to myself, that sounds kind of elementary!

I know that God is good, gentle, merciful, compassionate, just, powerful, full of grace, and loving. He is the Mighty God, Prince of Peace, and Wonderful Counselor. I am aware of His omniscience, omnipotence, and that He is omnipresent.

However, I had never thought about His eternity, His aseity (self existence), His foreknowledge or middle knowledge (hypothetical knowledge), fore ordination, and immutability (changelessness), to name a few. The philosophical study of God is fascinating!

Have you heard of the Euthyphro dilemma? I hadn’t until recently. It basically asks the question, ‘Is something good because God wills it? Or, does God will something because it is good?’ Crazy stuff!

There is so much to learn about our God. We could spend a lifetime and only scratch the surface of the complex and multifaceted nature of God.


So, I challenge you as I challenge myself to think about and write down answers to the following questions.

Why do you believe in God?
Why are you a Christian?
Why is your faith important in your life?
What exactly do you believe?
What evidence is there for the existence of God?
What evidence is there for the resurrection of Christ?


The following are great resources for the study of apologetics:

I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, Frank Turek & Norman Geisler
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, William Lane Craig

 

The 2 sides of the coin of faith

This past semester I taught a worldviews and apologetics curriculum at my church that required a lot of supplementation and additional research. As I prepared, I found myself swimming in a sea of endless philosophical, theological and scientific statistics, facts, and arguments. This was a whole new world to me. My head was spinning! Who knew that the world of Christian apologetics was so extensive?!

For more than a decade, my brother has followed theologian, Christian apologist and philosopher, Dr. William Lane Craig. Since I started watching debates several months ago, however, I have gained a great deal of respect for him.

Aside from the fact that Dr. Craig is brilliant and intellectually WAY over my head, his heart and his faith make him a compelling evangelist as well. It isn’t often that you see someone who has a healthy balance between the intellectual and the emotional side of their faith.

In his debates, he speaks of five arguments for the existence of God.

  1. God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe
  2. God is the best explanation for the fine tuning of the universe
  3. God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values in the world
  4. God is the best explanation for the historical facts pertaining to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
  5. God can be immediately known and experienced

The first four deal in the realms of science, philosophy, theology, history, and are basically facts and proofs. Then you get to the fifth argument, and it is purely personal and experiential.

A statement about knowing and experiencing God is emotional and quite bold for such a scholarly environment. It takes tenacity, and a humble heart to make such claims in the presence of highly esteemed intellectuals. Often, the world of academia has divorced the heart from the mind.

“Arguments for God could actually distract our attention from God himself”
~ William Lane Craig

I greatly admire him for not putting all of his eggs in one intellectual basket. Believing in God purely based on Kalam’s Cosmological argument, the teleological argument, or Leibniz’s contingency argument, as interesting and intellectually stimulating as they are, can only get you so far. At some point, one has to go beyond the intellectual realm to the heart and soul. For that is the realm of faith.

God is personal. And, The most wonderful part of this life is to know and experience Him.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.   James 4:8

I do believe that we can experience God intellectually as well as emotionally. My brother has said this for years. After all, He is the source of all knowledge.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Proverbs 2:6

I would encourage the more emotional believers to not neglect the intellectual side of God’s character. It’s sad when people assume that apologetics is dry and boring. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is like saying God is boring. How absurd!

When I started exploring apologetics, I was like a kid in a candy store! I found so much joy from gaining more awareness of this awesome God I serve. It added to my awe of Him. Discovering new aspects of God’s character is absolutely thrilling!

Similarly, intellectual and scholarly Christians should seek to know God on an experiential and emotional level. Things like singing praise songs or raising hands to God in worship may seem trivial to a scholarly person. However, exploring the different aspects of God’s character can only enrich your faith.

God is so immensely . . . . well, immense!! There are so many aspects of His character that it would take an infinite number of lifetimes to explore them all.