“We’re living in a postmodern era in which concepts like ‘truth’ and ‘morality’ are more elastic than in the past,” wrote popular apologist Lee Strobel.¹ His word “elastic” visually depicts how postmodern relativists comfortably stretch and bend truth. Instead of viewing truth as objective, they consider it dependent on people’s subjective perceptions.
This relativistic mindset carries over to spiritual matters as well.
Many unbelievers dismiss or reinterpret Bible Scripture (whether knowingly or unknowingly) to avoid accountability to God and to keep their personal freedoms. This pick-and-choose-your-own meaning of truth, however, can blind them to God’s truth, God’s love, and His mega-message of salvation for every person.
Devoted believers, on the other hand, endeavor to honor God above the cultural climate. They pursue God’s objective truth. For they know God personally. They know what Jesus did for them on the cross. And they seek to run their Christian race with endurance to win (Heb. 12:1–2).
Therefore, how can we reach out to postmodern relativists, given their flexible view of truth, to share the unchanging Gospel so they too can live?
One effective apologetic approach is to paint them a picture. Parables, analogies, and word pictures can clarify their deep need to embrace objective truth.² Consider, for example, this fictional scenario I came up with:
THE BENDER FAMILY’S TRAGIC MISTAKE
One bright summer day, the Bender family packed up their gear and went for a boat ride in the ocean. Soon after they launched, Mr. Bender turned off the motor and lowered the anchor. Eagerly, the four of them dove into the water. As they enjoyed swimming and splashing, a Coast Guard rescue boat pulled up. The patrolman shouted, “Hey, you guys! You’re swimming in shark-infested waters. Grab this life preserver, quick!”
Oblivious to the warning, the Benders continued to swim. Mrs. Bender replied casually, “I don’t perceive us to be in any danger.” Mr. Bender responded, “From my perspective, the sharks in these waters aren’t real.” Teenage Benny added, “According to my truth, sharks don’t harm people.” Little Belinda spoke last. “Really, Sir, there’s no problem out here. Maybe you just had a bad dream about sharks. Thank you anyway!”
In this analogy, tragically there was a price to pay for stretching and redefining truth. The Bender family “missed the boat,” so to speak, and became fish bait. Since their relativistic lenses prevented them from viewing the world as it really is, they rejected the trustworthy life preserver freely offered to them.
Christianity is the only worldview that enables people to see the world “as it really is.” That’s because it corresponds to reality.³ For all Bible Scripture is God-inspired (2 Tim. 3:16) or literally, God-breathed in the Greek.
The biblical Jesus—who is the way, truth and life (John 14:6)—longs for people to wear the only pair of spiritual eyeglasses with 20/20 vision. Then clearly, we’ll enjoy purpose and fulfillment in this life. And we’ll be assured of a glorious destiny that will stretch throughout eternity.
In that sense, truth is elastic indeed.
¹Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 246. ² See “The Metallic Gold Umbrella,” an apologetic parable on relativism (endorsed by Dr. Sean McDowell and offered as a free download at TrueWayTracts.com). ³ W. Gary Phillips, William E. Brown, and John Stonestreet, Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview (Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Co., 2008), 4.