Lesson 3 "Is truth relative?"
Answer: When someone says that truth is relative, what he normally means is that there is no absolute truth. Some things may appear true to you but not true to me. If you believe it, it is true for you. If I don’t believe it, it is not true for me. When people say things like “that’s fine if God exists for you, but He doesn’t exist for me,” they are expressing the popular belief that truth is relative.
The whole concept of “relative truth” sounds tolerant and open-minded. However, upon closer analysis, it is not open-minded at all. In essence, to say that “God exists for you but not for me” is to say that the other person’s concept of God is wrong. It passes judgment. But no one really believes that all truth is relative. No sane person says, “Gravity works for you, but not for me,” and proceeds to jump off tall buildings believing no harm will follow.
The statement “truth is relative” is, in fact, a self-refuting statement. In saying, “Truth is relative,” one states a purported truth. But, if all truth is relative, then that statement itself is relative as well—which means we can’t trust it to be true all the time.
Certainly, there are some statements that are relative. For example, “the Ford Mustang is the coolest car ever made” is a relative statement. A car enthusiast may think this to be true, but there is no absolute standard by which to measure “coolness.” It is simply one’s belief or opinion. However, the statement “there is a red Ford Mustang parked outside in the driveway, and it belongs to me” is not relative. It is either true or false, based on objective reality. If the Mustang in the driveway is blue (not red), the statement is false. If the red Mustang in the driveway belongs to someone else, the statement is false—it does not match reality.
Generally speaking, opinions are relative. Many people relegate any question of God or religion to the realm of opinion. “You prefer Jesus—that’s fine if it works for you.” What Christians say (and the Bible teaches) is that truth is not relative, regardless of the subject matter. There is an objective spiritual reality, just as there is an objective physical reality. God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6); Jesus likened His teachings to a solid, immovable rock (Matthew 7:24). Jesus is the only way of salvation, and this is absolutely true for every person at all times (John 14:6). Just like people need to breathe in order to live, people need to be born again through faith in Christ to experience spiritual life (John 3:3).
Recommended Resource: True Truth: Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World by Art Lindsley