Earlier this week I spent a day teaching a class to doctoral students titled, “Ethics in a Global Society.” I brought up the fact that the bottom line to any ethical system can be summarized by Jesus’ words, “Treat others as you want them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12) and how some form of the Golden Rule is found in every major world religion. The Golden Rule applies to ethics at every level, local or global.
I also stated that it is difficult to consistently be ethical without a belief in absolute truth. A student then asked me if I believed in absolute truth. I answered, “Yes I do. But I am not so sure how much absolute truth I actually know.”
That type of admission troubles some people.
I believe God is absolute truth. I believe Jesus is God and thus Jesus is absolute truth. I also believe absolute truth is found in God’s Word. However, my understanding of God and of Jesus, and my interpretation of His Word, is not absolute truth. I must always leave open the possibility that I could be wrong. My understanding could be incomplete. My interpretation could be misguided or biased. If I don’t leave open the possibility I could be wrong I will become arrogant, judgmental, and condescending. Worse, I will quit learning. My responsibility as a follower of Jesus is to pursue truth, and to search for it as a hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4). In my search I have a promise from Jesus that the Holy Spirit will “guide me into all truth” (John 16:13). But it is a critical mistake to confuse my propositional statements and my creeds and my denominational distinctives and my personal convictions and interpretations as absolute truth.
Absolute truth is out there, and I am to search for it, but I am to never think I have fully grasped it.
The moment I think I have grasped absolute truth, I am god, and that’s an absolute lie.