OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Just going back to truth as commitment to a particular story: my point in an earlier post was to add that the particularity of the biblical narrative seems to be that it addresses all other stories: it inherently challenges all other stories to become part of its own story! (My anachronism was intended to force this point home in an arresting way).
Unlike Don Cupitt’s cave, which now seems to have become a place which cobbles together all kinds of stories but ceases to have a distinctive story of its own, the biblical narrative is distinctive enough to interact with all other stories about why we are here, where we have come from, where we are going, who we are. In fact it’s designed to do that.
As regards ‘truth’, postmodernism, surely, has shone a different light on the term. For instance, instead of emphasising truth as distinct from falsehood, postmodernism emphasises truth as integrity, authenticity, reality (as mars hill has it); of course Christianity fits within this new context, because Jesus himself embodied this kind of ‘truth’. Furthermore, as his followers, Christians can also expect to have this bedrock quality in their lives. All other religious/faith systems are approximations, reachings-out, shadows, sometimes parodies of the real thing. Not without ‘truth’ in either of these senses, but failing to ‘reach’ truth. The distinctiveness of Christianity, and no doubt its offensiveness to many, even on this site, is that in Jesus, ‘truth’ is said to reside. In this person, God has chosen to embody ‘the truth’ - about himself, about us, etc. This needs to be both lived and proclaimed.
Is there no ‘truth’ out there apart from him? It depends what you are looking for. If you accept the biblical narrative, the whole world, being made by God, is full of God’s ‘truth’; ie it reflects him still, and you can expect to find truth in every aspect of the created world - through science, medicine, biology, poetry, literature, religion, music, liberation movements, etc. The point being made as an extension of truth being located in Jesus is that in whatever area of life and human pursuit we care to look at, there is a falling away and distortion of truth. We need a restoration of ‘true truth’, to put it in Francis Schaeffer’s words. That is where truth needs to find its origins - and it’s embodied in a person. Only by finding our place in relation to this person can we expect to find this kind of truth restored in our lives.
This is why Christianity need never lose confidence. It needs to understand the shape of the container of culture, simply because that is how people will customarily think and understand things. But it’s my contention that the container does not and should not shape the message. Rather, the message is intended to shape the container! That’s why Paul, in the end, got his head chopped off! But it didn’t stop the message shaping the container of the Roman Empire. And having one’s head chopped off isn’t the measure of the message’s authenticity. The measure is whether the message can engage with and transform the prevalent culture. Culture twists and turns, but the uniqueness of the Christian message is that it can enter every form the culture takes, and change it from the inside on its own terms.