“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17
I. There’s a great book by Gregory Koukl called Tactics
a. It details how disciples can discuss the Bible with others, especially those who might be hostile to the ideas of Christianity. It has an incredible way of presenting points. It also helps the other person to think about what they are saying.
b. Mr. Koukl labels one class of arguments people make as “Suicidal.”
i. These are arguments or statements that, when applied to the overall argument, contradict it.
1. A simple example is: “All English statements are false.”
2. Since the statement is in English, by its own rules it must be false.
ii. Suicidal arguments are always false.
1. For example, a t-shirt might say: “The statement on the back of this shirt is false” on the front and “The statement on the front of this shirt is true” on the back. Both of these statements can’t be true.
2. We don’t have to get caught up in trying to figure out which part is true or false. The contradiction falsifies the whole statement and that’s all we need to know.
iii. Suicidal arguments lead to a contradiction
1. “Authentic Mexican food cooked in the traditional Chinese way.” You cannot have “authentic Mexican” and “traditional Chinese” applied to the same items of food.
2. “Can God make a rock too heavy for him to lift?” Making anything greater than himself is a suicidal argument since God would never make anything greater than himself!
II. Absolute Truth
a. Pilate once asked Jesus – “What is truth?” John 18:38
i. He wasn’t looking for an answer because he left. He had more than a question. He had doubts.
ii. There is a difference between doubts and questions.
iii. Questions are a powerful inquiry on route to the truth.
iv. A doubt is a stumbling block to your journey to an answer.
v. Truth should be the ultimate goal of all questions.
b. We live in a time where people claim, “There is no truth!”
i. People say, “Aha! So is that the truth of the matter?” Or better yet … “Is that a true statement?”
ii. They also say, “There is no absolute truth” and “Are you absolutely sure about that?”
iii. By the statement’s claim, the statement is false.
c. There is truth – John 17:17
i. Psalm 119:151-152, Psalm 12:6
ii. But people don’t like set rules, especially rules that point out their errors. They say, “There are no absolutes!”
1. You can’t make an absolute assertion to rule out absolutes.
iii. People also say, “You can’t know anything for sure!”
1. Are you sure about that statement?
iv. People want to deny that there is a source to truth outside of themselves.
1. “You can only know truth through experience!”
a. What experience did you have that led you to that conclusions?
2. “Only science can determine truth!”
a. Can you scientifically measure this statement?
b. No? Then how can it be determined to be true?
3. Truth is something taught – John 8:31-32
v. Statements dealing in absolutes: “only,” “never,” “always,” etc… are the hardest to prove and defend. When you hear an absolute, ask yourself if that absolute applies to the statement itself.
III. Faulty Comparisons – these are more subtle.
a. People say, “People make mistakes. People wrote the Bible. Therefore, the Bible is flawed.”
i. Could the person be mistaken about this claim?
ii. After all, you are only human.
b. There are flaws in this argument. People do make mistakes, but people do not make mistakes constantly.
i. To claim there is a potential for mistakes is not the same as proving a mistake was made.
c. There is an assumption that God cannot inspire a book to be written.
i. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – the Scriptures come from the mouth of God.
ii. Galatians 1:11-12 – the Bible is not from man.
iii. 1 Corinthians 2:13 – words were given to the writers
a. “All religions are true.”
i. If that statement were true, it would include Christianity. But Christianity says other religions, such as idolatry, are false – 1 Corinthians 8:4.
ii. All religions can’t be true when they teach ideas that conflict.
1. Do people go to heaven or hell after death?
2. Are they reincarnated?
3. Do they just cease to exist?
4. All of these ideas can’t be true at the same time.
b. People who make this statement are trying to avoid disagreement or coming to a conclusion, especially one that might indicate they are wrong.
i. “God doesn’t take sides!”
1. Would God agree with that? Then, you are saying God took a side.
2. The false assumption is that all sides can be right. But conflicting ideas are not compatible with a single idea of truth.
3. Many people say that all religions are fundamentally the same and incrementally different. The truth is that all religions are INCREMENTALLY THE SAME AND FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT!
4. The reality is that God does not choose the side. He wants us to choose to be on his side. Joshua 5:13, Matthew 11:28-30.
a. There is a yoke (limits) and there are burdens – comparatively easy limits, but there nonetheless.
ii. “You can’t judge other people!”
1. Isn’t that a judgement?
2. Usually people have Matthew 7:1-5 in mind.
a. Notice that this Scripture doesn’t condemn judgement. It condemns hypocritical judgement.
b. It warns that when a judgement is made, it applies to you as well – Romans 2:1-3
3. What people want is to make rules, but give exceptions to themselves.
a. Proverbs 24:23 – Judgements can’t be partial, even towards yourself.
c. The truth is that we have to make judgements – 1 John 4:1
i. The knowledge that wrong exists means that I need to determine what is right.
ii. Righteous judgement – John 7:24
a. “Talking about God is meaningless!”
i. Are we both now not talking about God? Is your statement then meaningless?
b. People might concede that they disagree, but they don’t want people attempting to persuade them.
c. “You shouldn’t force your morality on others!”
i. Are you forcing your view of my view onto me? Are you forcing me to accept how you view my religion? Are you not doing the same thing? Must I accept the view that passive Christianity is the only Christianity?
ii. Moral relativism is the idea that what might be wrong for you isn’t necessarily wrong for me. This returns to the problem of partiality in judgment. Bottom line what is true for you is true for me based on the word of God.
iii. Clear statements about what is right or wrong are not forcing anyone to do anything. You do right because you decide to. You do wrong because you decide to. No one can “make” you do anything.
1. Right or wrong is a statement of what is. Whether you accept it is your choice.
2. But it is amazing how many people get offended if you say “Abortion is wrong.”
a. “That is just your belief. You should not be inflictin your views on others.”
i. Are you not inflicting your view on me?
b. 1 Timothy 4:1-4 Truth is truth whether people want to hear or not.
3. We need to take our thoughts captive – 2 Corinthians 10:2-6
d. “Don’t proselytize! Don’t try changing another person’s religious views!”
i. Yet my religions says – Matthew 28:18-20.
ii. So are you trying to change my religious views?
e. People don’t want the boat rocked. They don’t want to consider that they might be wrong – Matthew 21:23-27
i. “Who gave you the right?” This statement admits that authority comes from a higher source. A source, if acknowledged, must then have authority over the questioner. This is something the questioner doesn’t want to admit or face.
VI. It is such a simple concept
a. Arguments cut two ways, so does an argument being used against you apply to the arguer?
b. Beware of empty philosophy – Colossians 2:8
c. Keep watch for arguments that wound themselves.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world … would do this, it would change the earth.” William Faulkner.