There was a time in history—not that long ago—when certain truths were considered self-evident. This meaning that there were ideas and facts which contained truths that were considered universal and glaringly obvious. These were truths which even the most obtuse—if they were intellectually honest—could imagine the repercussions and ramifications of their violation.
So where has the notion of self-evident truth come from, and where has it gone? It is self-evident that many people in our society no longer operate under the assumption of any truth being self-evident or even permanent anymore.
First of all, self-evident aside, where does truth come from? Most believers would say it comes from God. I am a believer and would agree with that. More than that, I would say God is Truth.
Jesus The Truth
Jesus made a bold statement here, that I fully believe. At the time of its utterance, there were relatively few who believed and those were all Jews. The Gentile nations were still living in the futility of idolatry & paganism. The only witness they had was creation itself, which apparently was enough on its own to bring them to account, according to Romans 1:20.
But there came a time after the crucifixion when evangelism exploded, especially through Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. And while the Jews, as God’s elect, had always enjoyed a measure of heavenly light, by which to see and walk in truth, this light now shone to the Gentiles as well. This was prophesied in several passages in the Old Testament and was reaffirmed in the New Testament as well in several places.
Isaiah: 9:2 – The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. – ESV
Acts 26:23 – that Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles. – ESV
John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – ESV
These are just a few of the verses I could reference, but they all bring out a common theme: light—light in abundance to all who follow Jesus. God now grafted Gentiles who were willing into the commonwealth of Israel. The same light that shone on a small geographical location and people group now exploded in availability to all mankind. Even to the remotest parts of the earth.
Truth Among The Masses
And this light is the key to vast numbers of people becoming acquainted with many truths. In fact, people became so culturally immersed in this light, that these truths, brought out by light, became to them, self-evident. They couldn’t imagine seeing things differently when it came to the basic truths of life and God, though their ancestors had walked in deep darkness and debauchery. And by varying degrees, it’s been this way since the advent of Jesus in large swaths of populations.
I am aware of the strife, deception and even heresy that plagued the church at times through the centuries, but in comparison to where Gentiles had come from, the improvement was vast and the light bright. And it only continued to improve through the reformation and subsequent movements. But it seems perhaps we are facing a new era in western civilization.
As mentioned above, most truth is no longer held by large majorities in traditionally Christian societies to be self-evident. Whisperers have come and planted seeds of doubt in many fragile minds. These whisperers have come in the form of scoffers in the entertainment industry. They have come in science books and reports under a guise of intelligence & expertise. Also, community organizers, feminists, professors, TV anchors and the list could go on, of deceptive whisperers and rebellious shouters who have transformed our society and brought people to doubt.
And this to the point where people doubt some of the most basic truths of life that seem obvious just based on logic or common sense apart from faith. But people have left the light and have embraced darkness; therefore they can hide the error of their ways from themselves and their peers.
Where To From Here?
The question is, where does this leave us? The ones who still believe, walk in the light and find many basic truths to be self-evident without needing an expert opinion to guide us? It leaves us in a vulnerable position. All people could cave to pressure and deception if the right amount of pride or carelessness is thrown into the mix.
But it’s also a wonderful opportunity if we’ll only see it and grasp it. It is necessary to surrender more deeply to the Lord during times like this, in order to find the protection we need from deception, rebellion and apostasy. So, if we choose to do that, we have an opportunity to go deeper and shine brighter than ever before, even as society around us seems to crumble and engulf themselves in darkness.
But is this one of the low points of the varying degrees I mentioned before, to return in restoration and revival, or is it a petering out to an end-time apostasy situation? Not sure that I have an absolute answer, but perhaps I’ll take a stab at addressing this in a future post.