Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, September 14, 2004




part 1



I.          What is an Argument (Anthony Weston, Rulebook for Arguments)?


A.        Philosophical argument:  means of rational persuasion


B.         Premises


C.        Logical form


D.        Conclusion


E.         Validity and soundness


F.         Clear language, consistent terms


G.        Goal of good arguments:  knowledge:  justified, true belief



II.        From Modernism to Postmodernism (Truth Decay, chapter two).  See also Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism (InterVarsity, 2001), chapter two.


A.        Distinguishing social conditions (-itys) from philosophies (-isms)


B.         The premodern era (premodernity) - premodernist worldview


C.        The modern era (modernity) - modernist worldview


D.        The postmodern (postmodernity) era - postmodernist worldview


E.         Postmodernism as a philosophy


1.         No objective, universal, absolute truth; embrace of relative, pragmatic truths


2.         Rejection of metanarratives; embrace of micro/mini-narratives


3.         Rejection of essences, foundations; embrace of shifting surfaces


4.         Language creates reality, does not reflect objective facts; self-enclosed, non referential, “prison-house of language”


5.         Truth as “the new obscenity” (Os Guinness, The Journey)


F.         Postmodernity as a social condition


1.         The continuity with modernity regarding broad social forces


2.         Breakdown of religious consensus; emergence of greater pluralism


3.         The saturation of the self through communication technologies


4.         Loss of cultural authority; Christianity loses it public face and voice


5.         Surface over depth; image all the way down; factoids all the way down; etc.



III.       The Christian View of (A) Truth and (B) What is True


A.        Clarify the concept of truth, before getting to content of truth (Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There)


B.         General concept and Christian:  correspondence view of truth (more in Truth Decay, chapter four)


C.        Biblical words for truth


1.         Hebrew


2.         Greek


D.        Biblical Concept of truth:  radical monotheism (Deuteronomy 6:4)


1.         Revealed—not constructed, created by us (Hebrews 4:12)


a.         Supernatural and personal source of knowledge


b.         Not all is constructed; some is revealed, received, discovered


c.         Language as God’s vehicle to convey truth


·        God as Logos (John 1:1 – 3), human in the image of God (Genesis 1:26)


2.         Objective—not only merely subjective (Romans 3:4)


a.         Truth above cultures; truth as judging all cultures equally


b.         Some things can be known as they are in themselves


c.         Not based on preference only—comfortable, uncomfortable


d.         We are entitled to our own opinions, not our own truths


3.         Absolute—not relative (John 14:1 – 6)


a.         Invariant, noncontingent, nonnegotiable


b.         No exceptions, exemptions, exclusions


4.         Universal—not situational (Matthew 28:18 – 20; Acts 4:12)


·        Cross-cultural realities:  reconciliation with God and others


5.         Eternal—not trendy or trivial (Isaiah 40:8; Malachi 3:6)


·        Not ephemeral, fragile, conventional


6.         Antithetical—not synthetic (Matthew 12:30)


a.         Law of identity


b.         Noncontradiction


c.         Law of excluded middle


d.         Law of bivalence


e.         Not a matter of taste but of truth


7.         Systematic, not fragmentary, ad hoc, arbitrary, piecemeal


All Scripture inspired; God cannot lie (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17; Hebrews 6:18)


8.         Truth is not completely knowable by fallen mortals (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 13:9 – 12)