True for You, But Not True for Me (Or is it?)

I have written two articles for Life In His Hands Christian Ministries Newspaper.  The paper is essentially run by one man, who has been out of work for a year.  This paper is his effort and making some income for his family.  The last issue is the first paper that wasn’t in the red!   You can read it here, and see my article on the first page, continued on page 7.  Or you can simply read the article in this blog post:

Truth is not opinion

When speaking with famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, on his Fox News program, The O’Reilley Factor, Bill O’Reilley told Dawkins, “I can’t prove to you that Jesus is God, so that truth is mine and mine alone. But you can’t prove to me that Jesus is not God, so you have to stay in your little belief system.” O’Reilley’s statement fits into a view of truth called relativism. It is common to hear relativistic expressions within and without the Christian community. Relativism holds that truth is relative to each person’s experiences, culture, and needs. Since such guideposts for truth are not universal, truth is subjected to individual determination.    Approaching all truth claims from a relativistic approach fails in three specific ways: failure to distinguish between subjective and objective claims, denies basic laws of logic, and is an inherently self-contradictory worldview.

First, relativism fails to distinguish between objective and subjective truth claims. Subjective truth claims are relative to each individual, because these claims deal in preference and personal opinion, often based on experience and feelings. For example, the best seats at a movie theater are the front rows. There are less people there to bother you, you don’t have anyone sitting in front of you to block your view, you always have a middle seat, and the screen encompasses the totality of your vision. I think the majority of the population would disagree with my claim, judging from my experiences of sitting by my lonesome in the front few rows of movie theaters. Others claim that the middle rows are the best. Others assert the back rows are superior. “The front rows are the best” is a true statement for me, but it might not be true for you, because determining the best row in a movie theater is based on subjective values.

Objective claims on the other hand lie outside of one’s individual partiality and experience for determining their truthfulness. They are unbiased claims that are determined to be true based on external realities that can be verified or tested.   Objective claims pertain to facts, not opinions. Sticking with movie examples, the Best Picture of 2013 according to the Academy Awards was 12 Years a Slave. That is an objective claim. It can be factually verified to be true or false. If it were simply stated that 12 Years a Slave was the best movie of 2013, it would be a subjective claim, because everyone has a different opinion on the matter, but the specific Oscar winner of the 2013 Best Picture award is not a matter of opinion. A movie either won or did not win the Oscars for Best Picture. Relativism fails to realize this distinction by handling objective claims as if they were subjective, which is what Bill O’Reilly failed to do, when saying that “Jesus is God” is his truth, but not Richard Dawkins’ truth.

A second failure of relativism is its denial of basic laws of logic. When relativists state that all religions are true, they reject the Law of Non-Contradiction. The Law of Non-Contradiction states that “A” cannot equal “Non-A”. This means a statement cannot be true and not true at the same time in the same respect. Plugging statements into this equation, “Jesus is God” (Christianity) cannot equal “Jesus is not God” (Judaism and Islam). Already, the Law of Non-Contradiction has disproven the notion that all religions can be true, however the Law of Excluded Middle and the Law of Identity further demonstrate relativism’s denial of reason. The Law of Excluded Middle states that “A” is either “A” or “Non-A”. This means an objective claim is either true or not true. Jesus is either God or he is Not-God. Finally, the Law of Identity dictates that “A” is “A”; a thing is what it is. Therefore, if “Jesus is God” is a true statement, Jesus must be God.

A third failure of relativism is that it is a self-contradictory worldview. Relativists declare, “All truth is relative.” Yet, in their rejection of the existence of absolute truth, relativists are making an absolute truth claim themselves. If a relativist says, “There are no absolutes,” ask him, “Are you absolutely certain?” If a relativist says, “All truth is relative,” ask him, “Is that relative?” Such simple questions in response to relativism reveal the self-contradictions within such a worldview.

To answer this question directly, objective truth is not a matter of opinion. Jesus is God or Jesus is not God. We cannot have it both ways.   The truthfulness of these two positions is not contingent upon our subjective experiences. This means that it is intolerant to claim that all religions are true, because it would require the erasure, or change, of all exclusive teachings within all of the world’s diverse religious faiths to make them one. If relativism is not intolerance in action, then it must be ignorance that fails to distinguish between subjective and objective claims, denies basic laws of logic, and embraces an inherently self-contradicting worldview.

Consider ordering my book Contradict – They Can’t All Be True! 

 

G220 Radio – Contradict: They Can’t All Be True

I was just on a padcast show called G220 Radio.  The name comes from Galatians 2:20.  You should look that verse up, here. The show is hosted by Ricky Gantz.  He has followed the Contradict – They Can’t All Be True Facebook page for quite awhile.  He recently launched this podcast and he has a lot of great topics that I think anyone who likes this blog would be interested in hearing discussed.  The show before the Contradict episode was on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the show that will be aired next week is on interracial relationships and marriages – you know from the Bible.  I hope they address the insane idea that dark skinned people came from the descendents of Ham, because Ham was cursed to have children born to slavery.  If you want to see where people get that idea, go to Genesis 9.

For the G220 Radio episode I was on as the guest, I love that Ricky focused on Chapter 2 of Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.  Chapter 2 teaches the basic history, beliefs, and practices of the world’s five major religions via 20 key terms for each.  So 100 terms in total.  Ricky went through each of the five religions and asked me to speak on some of those terms for each religion.  I like that he did this because I took it upon myself to compare and contrast the teachings with what the Bible teaches us.  I also was able to give some good points for where the Gospel could be interjected into the teachings of other religions – in other words points at which adherents of these other religions would find the Gospel to be truly Good News for them!

Ricky also got to share some experiences he has had using Contradict in evangelism.

Give it a listen and share it far and wide.  G220 Radio: Contradict They Can’t All Be True!

G220

Overview of Contradict – They Can’t All Be True

table of contents2My first published book is entitled, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.  In case you have been wondering what’s inside the book before taking the plunge to order your copy, I have provided a brief overview of the book in this blog post:


Ch. 1 – The State of Pluralism

America’s state of religious pluralism stems from Hindu influence that crept in via the transcendental movement and came full force in the 60s counter-culture movement. The New Age Movement has direct parallels to Hindu beliefs, both of which lead to forms of religious pluralism. I share that the heart behind the movement is love, but that truth and love is lost in pluralism.

Ch. 2 – The Multiple Religious Paths

Many believe religious pluralism is true because Americans are religiously ignorant. Many of us don’t even know Christianity. So I give a 20 word glossary for Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.   If you know these 20 terms for each, you will know the basic history, teachings, and practices of the world’s five major religions.

Ch. 3 – Enacting the Law of Non-Contradiction

I then take direct quotes from the authoritative texts of each of those 5 religions and other minor religions and cults and put them under various doctrinal topics such as who God is, who man is, what mankind’s ultimate problem is, what the solution is to that problem to show the contradictions.

Ch. 4 – Finding a Religious Litmus Test

I present the historiographical tests for evaluating claims of the past and that Christianity offers a historical claim to prove or disprove the Christian faith – the resurrection.

Ch. 5 – Testing the Testable

I apply those tests to the Gospels. I present it in a way that I haven’t seen done yet in another book – so I think I’m contributing something new to the vast works that are already out there.

Ch. 6 – The Ring of Truth

I share what I call the ring of truth. The ring of truth can be found in the Bible’s details, its one unified message, its accuracy in predicting future events, and its uniqueness amongst the world’s religions.  I close this chapter by quoting Peter from Acts 2 and Jesus from Mark 16, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.”

All of the book so far was in a non-Christian voice. I want anyone reading to not know where I am coming from – what I actually believe. I have not identified myself as Christian until the end of this chapter. It’s all fact based presentations. It turns me off reading most books of this nature because I don’t think my non-Christian friend would get past the first few pages in most cases the way they are written. The bias comes through too strongly in most of the books I have read making a case for the Christian faith.

Ch. 7 – Using Contradict to Share the Gospel

The Christian voice is out. This chapter focuses on sharing the Gospel using Contradict. It explains how I have used Contradict as a witnessing tool on college campuses and I explain the whole process if someone else wants to use it. I then give the 20 most asked questions after the initial conversational starter sharing that all religions can’t be true because they contradict each other, but that I believe Christianity is true and that Jesus is the son of God who died for the sins of all of mankind. Every question has several types of responses that should be utilized in the response. Validation responses show why it’s a good question and how you understand why it is being asked. Socratic method responses are questions that lead the person to the answer based on what they already know. Answer responses give multiple ways to respond to answer the question directly. Scripture responses show the verses that support the answer from God’s Word. Back the Gospel responses must always be used at the end of every answer. The Gospel saves, not our apologetics, so the answers must always be used to get back to the Gospel and often times the Gospel answers the question!

Ch. 8 – Join the Movement.

Why did I call Contradict a movement? The Holy Spirit moves each of us to action as he desires. There isn’t only one way, or method, to present the exclusive claims of Christ to be our only all-sufficient Savior. The Spirit might move some to share the Gospel exactly as I have using Contradict, but others might get other ideas on how to initiate the conversation. We might not all be led to success by the Spirit either. We might be led to persecution. Our role is simply to resign ourselves to will of God as the Spirit moves us to make disciples of all nations.

You can order my book here!

Contradict Evangelism Table

table evangelismAs many of you know if you have followed my blog, the Contradict logo was birthed from evangelism at University of California Irvine.  From many trial and error attempts at initiating Christ-centered conversations on the campus, I found that the best method for my personality is to set-up a table and draw people in to talk with a catchy poster on a table.  My first attempt was a Led Zeppelin poster with a sign saying free bootleg CDs.  I actually had purchased some bootleg CDs and was raffling them off, but, to enter the raffle the person had to take my “Stairway to Heaven” Gospel tract that I had written.  They also got an invitation to a Bible study on UCI’s campus.  I got a few emails this way so I could keep in contact – spamming people, if you will, about events I was hosting on campus.  I never got anyone to show to those events – :(.

Then I met a lady that was a full-time missionary at University California Los Angeles.  She told me what worked best for her was hosting a “Blessing of the Brains” night every mid-term and finals week.  She said students were up late studying and that she would offer them coffee and the opportunity to have their brains blessed with prayer!  She would pray for them right then and there if they wanted, or just collect prayer requests in a prayer box.  I did that method twice!  Both times – very successful.

All of these attempts were when I was as an undergraduate student at Concordia University Irvine during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years.  After a Masters degree and three years teaching in China, I was back in Orange County in the summer of 2009 and asked if I would kickstart evangelism for a congregation at UCI.  I wanted to set-up another table with a poster that would draw people in to talk and I wanted to also offer coffee.  Sort of a combination of the two best options I had done before.  I had many other attempts along the way that I won’t mention.  From UCLA pastor, Mark Jasa, I learned of a cool sign approach to evangelism. He set-up a table with a poster that read, “Religion is for the Weak.”  His approach was that people would see this and not know what he believed!  People usually think he is an atheist, and then get caught off guard and are intrigued to hear more when they find out he is actually a Christian.  He presents that everyone is going to die and religion offers a solution to the problem, yet there are really only two religions – Free and Not Free.  Christianity is the only Free religion – saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Then the discussion begins!

Adam Stetson also saw a presentation from Pastor Jasa on his “Religion is for the Weak” method of starting an evangelism conversation. Together we bought a table and went to UCI’s Freedom of Speech Area.  We started with small print-out pages that said “Religion is for the Weak” and other slogans we came up with. The only one I still remember is the one that I made up which was “Christianity is not a way of life.”  If someone asked what it meant I’d share, “Christianity is life given to you for free by the work of Jesus.  It’s not a list of rules you must obey to be saved.  Therefore it is not a way of life, it is life.”  We also had a big poster board that said, “Got Prayer?”  We did a lot of stuff like that.  It was a smorgasbord of little flyers taped to everything on the table.  People would get coffee and as they shook their sugar into their cup, they’d ask what the message meant on the sugar container.  It was quite comical.

One week, Adam said, he wanted to make a Contradict sign to counter Co-exist.  I thought it was great!  I found a few designs already made online and we started to use them on the table too.  It became my go to every time someone asked why were out there giving out free coffee.  Adam and the others with us began to always gravitate towards it too.  Eventually Adam had a Contradict poster made!  And then we ditched everything else and just used a Contradict poster exclusively, taped to the front of the table.  “Religion is for the Weak” didn’t work so great for me for some reason.  Before launching the site http://www.contradictmovement.org, I designed my own Contradict logo with my friend Danny Martinez.

I love the Contradict conversation starter.  It’s simple.  Someone asks what does this mean and I get to simply say, “It means that all religions contradict each other and they can’t all be true.  They could all be false, but they can’t all be true.  I personally believe Christianity is true, that Jesus is God and died for your sins and I am here to share that good news and answer any of your questions about what I believe from the Bible.”  I have presented the central truth-claim of Christianity, and now the ball is in that person’s court!  Often times, they might be shocked that I am Christian. For example, I once let an atheist talk a long time about his views on religion.  He thought I was an atheist too, so he was just laying it really thick against all religions and religious people, and when I told him what I believed he was stunned.  And his mouth was open, and he asked, “Wait, you’re a Christian?”  He thought by Contradict, I somehow meant they were all wrong!  No.  It means they can’t all be true, not that they’re all wrong – which is what many people first think the sign means.

Anyways, it’s a great conversation starter!  I encourage you to give it a try somewhere, at a park, a campus, a store front, a fair, a street corner with a lot of foot traffic.  There are handouts at http://www.contradictmovement.org that you can download and print for free.

If you are really into this idea, I encourage you to check out my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.  It details the entire message I’d share with someone if they gave me 3-4 hours of their time.  And believe it or not, sometimes, people actually give that much time!  Many people I have talked to are very intrigued.  They are craving God (although they don’t know that’s what they’re missing and needing as they are lost in their sins) and few Christians have given them the straight up truth from Scripture.  And few Christians have sat there to listen to their questions and answer them.  A big portion of my book is to help equip you to know what questions are most often asked from the Contradict conversation starter.

Here’s a video for more info on how to get started. God bless you.

Please, let me know if you give this a try.  And you might find that something else besides Contradict works best for you.