IS TRUTH ABSOLUTE?
Charles E. Burch
Many people are teaching today that there is no "absolute truth". A verse of scripture might mean one thing to me, and something else to someone else, and that we both would be right in the interpretation of it. But Jesus said in his prayer to the Father, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). But is it absolute truth?
To say that truth is "absolute" is to say that it does not depend upon the mental state of the student or reader. This means that the truth of a proposition is not changed by individual persons drawing conclusions about it. Now if truth was relative it would depend upon the mental state of the student or reader. The student or reader would never know the object as it really is. It is known only as it appears to him.
To say that truth is "absolute" is to say that the Bible taught what it now teaches long before we came on the scene. The fact that people now living have studied the Bible, and have drawn conclusions as to what it teaches, does not change one thing it taught centuries before. If truth is not absolute, but relative then there is no truth at all in a truly meaningful sense. There would be no objective truth to which we could refer in order to evaluate any statement. There would be no way for anyone really to be wrong. No one could say that anyone else was wrong, for the way another sees it may be the way God intended for him to. This is ABSURD, but it is believed by many.
Truth is attainable and can be learned. This simply means that it is possible for people to come to the knowledge of Bible truth. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Notice, "ye shall know the truth". He did not say ye shall know what you think is the truth! This verse alone should prove to any honest person that truth can be learned. The apostle Paul wrote, "For God is not the author of confusion..." (I Cor. 14:33). Think of the confusion in the religious world today, because everyone is teaching what he believes the Bible says instead of studying God's word to know what it teaches.
Christ said His word would judge man in the end. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). How could Christ make this statement, if truth was not absolute? He could not condemn those in Matthew 7:21, for not doing the Father’s will. They may have thought they were doing His will.
The Bible teaches that it is possible to distinguish between truth and error and, thus, teaches that truth is absolute and attainable. The Bible commended those who searched the scriptures to learn the truth. Luke wrote, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Paul said, "Prove all things..." (I Thess. 5:21). This would be impossible if truth was not absolute and attainable.