Monday, February 25, 2013

Are All Truth Claims Just Power Plays?

Tim Suttle writes in the Huff. Post about how many evangelicals are too concerned with "truth":
It's laudable to care about the truth. Engaging in conversation about sound doctrine is an important part of sticking together. But these days when somebody in our tribe says, "I'm fighting for the truth," you just know it's a ruse.

For one thing "Truth" is not rational abstraction -- a concept, doctrine, or idea you can write down -- especially not one which you conveniently have right and everyone else conveniently has wrong. Truth-as-a-rational-abstraction constitutes a denial of the incarnation (and big chunks of the New Testament). Doctrines and theologies can point to the truth but they are not themselves the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. Truth is a person. Jesus is the Truth.

Even if one keeps the truth-as-a-rational-abstraction account of truth, it still should not constitute the evangelical center. Christians are not meant to believe in a rational account of the truth; we are meant to take up our cross and follow the one who is true; the truth as it has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. But for the truth-police, Christianity has become analyzed instead of lived.

Most importantly, we must recognize that the fight for truth is nearly always a fight for control. Those who passionately defend the truth are often just grasping for power. It's a game that only those who have never been transformed by the love of God have the stomach for. Whatever you think of his writing, in all the attacks Rob Bell faced over his book Love Wins he never got ugly or defensive. Bell's Christ-likeness patiently proclaimed the good news of the resurrection in stark contrast to those who tried to burn him at the stake.

I know the objection. Isn't the Bible the truth? Again, this is a power play dressed up in a defense of orthodoxy. The Bible is the truthful witness to the one who is the way, the truth and the life. What the defenders of truth really mean when they say the Bible is the truth, is that their interpretation of the Bible is the truth. The only thing that should ever follow the words, "The Bible says..." should be a quotation from the Scriptures in the original languages. Everything else is interpretation.
Read the rest.

So I guess Tim is trying to control me. He assumes that what he is writing is "truth". If he didn't, he probably wouldn't have taken the time to write.  But based on his critique, shouldn't we reject this piece outright because he is simply trying to control us?

Let's break down a paragraph from above to see what I am talking about.
Most importantly, we must recognize that the fight for truth is nearly always a fight for control. 
Is that true?  Tim, why are you trying to control me? 
Those who passionately defend the truth are often just grasping for power.
Is that true?  Tim, why are you trying to control me? 
It's a game that only those who have never been transformed by the love of God have the stomach for. 
Is that true?  Tim, why are you trying to control me? 
Whatever you think of his writing, in all the attacks Rob Bell faced over his book Love Wins he never got ugly or defensive.
Is that true?  Tim, why are you trying to control me? 
Bell's Christ-likeness patiently proclaimed the good news of the resurrection in stark contrast to those who tried to burn him at the stake.
Is that true?  Tim, why are you trying to control me?
You get the point.  The logic implodes upon itself unless Tim is willing to concede that he is the only one who is allowed to abstain from his own critique of truth claims as controlling power plays.   His point sounds good in theory but fails in real life.  

Tim Keller writes well about this issue in The Reason For God.  
If you say all truth-claims are power plays, then so is your statement.  If you say (like Freud) that all truth-claims about religion and God are just psychological projections to deal with your guilt and insecurity, then so is your statement.  To see through everything is not to see.  (p.38)

1 comment:

Mike W said...

Excellent point.