If Man is not the Standard of Truth, Then He NEVER Gets to Say What’s True: Response to Commenter Lydia

I got a comment from astute commenter Lydia this morning on the thread of the last post: “No! The Bible is Not the Standard of Truth”

She wrote:

I am just not up to a logical or philosophical discussion on the bible as the basis for truth. One reason is because I have been reading the court filing on the Doug Phillips lawsuit. The bible was Doug’s standard for truth. It is John Piper’s standard for truth. It was Calvin’s standard for truth…….and so on.

What is wrong with this picture?

Let’s pretend we grew up in an Orwellian society where the bible did not exist. It was out of print and there are never going to be more copies. How would anyone in that society know truth?

Let’s start there for a change…..

And this from someone who has tremendous respect for the bible. I just view it differently. If we make it the standard for truth then it simply becomes a fight concerning interpretation.

But what if we do not start there?


Please examine Lydia’s first paragraph. She makes an excellent, excellent point.

I responded to this statement in particular: (DISCLAIMER: I am not suggesting that Lydia necessarily agrees with my response, or has drawn the same conclusion as I have.)

“If we make it the standard for truth then it simply becomes a fight concerning interpretation.”

And of course this is exactly right. But they do not see it that way. They are convinced that there is some kind of absolute interpretation that simply has to be discovered. It’s like the laws of physics…they are not constructs from man’s mind, they are actual entities that man searches for and finds.

But this presents another logical contradiction for them, on top of two insurmountable ones already. It is this: If man discovers the standard of absolute truth OUTSIDE himself (be it the “true” biblical interpretation, or the “natural laws which govern”) then he must concede that HE and his own conscious frame of reference is wholly irrelevant to truth.

And this is where I usually loose them.

IF man’s conscious context of conscious SELF is irrelevant to truth, then how can man claim to know truth? Man’s conscious observations of himself and his environment have nothing to do with declaring or understanding truth whatsoever…because HE is not the standard of truth, something NOT HIM is the standard. So man can never be sure that he possesses or apprehends truth because everything about him, including his mind and thoughts, is wholly irrelevant to truth…again because the standard of truth–that which decides what is true or not, good or not–is NOT him. So man NEVER gets to say what truth is or is not because HE is not the standard. It’s neither his fucking job nor his prerogative.

The standard tells HIM what is truth or not, good or not, but man can make no claim to even apprehend what the standard tells him because HE does not get to decide because his decision making process, which is inexorably tied to his own “rational” interpretation, NOT the standard, therefore possesses no rational means to either agree or disagree with the standard. It is absolutely irrelevant, and thus useless. The standard gets to decide. Not him. So it doesn’t matter whether man agrees with what he thinks the standard says is true or not…what his mind and senses and consciousness tell him is again, irrelevant. HIS MIND is not able to claim truth because his mind is NOT THE STANDARD.

I don’t know why it is so hard to get this across to people…people simply have denied that their conscious observations are efficacious at all. They are convinced that something “greater” than them must BE them for them. Not simply inform them (because to be informed means that you possess an efficacious epistemology

And while I love Paul, and admire him, Biblicists like him are determinists at their root. And they do not see it. They think they have the “right” interpretation…all while declaring that man cannot possess the efficacious ability to even declare truth in the first place because man, not being the standard of truth, doesn’t EVER get to say (again, not his fucking job). The standard ALWAYS says what truth is, and man, if he is not the standard, does not get to say it. He can try, but if someone comes along who disagrees with him, he has no rational or objective means to deny their assertions because he has conceded the exact same premise: whatever man says or doesn’t say is irrelevant. Truth is determined as true OUTSIDE of him and his mind. Thus, it really will revert back to the same old method of compelling human outcomes: violence.

It boils down to mysticism and contradictory thinking again and again and again.

And that is why I have forsaken the TTANC conference this year…you’ll have a plethora of teachers…all of them, who have decided that man’s conscious existence is not necessary to truth.

Which makes truth a function of something…unconscious. And how is that perspective rationally defensible?

It isn’t.

13 thoughts on “If Man is not the Standard of Truth, Then He NEVER Gets to Say What’s True: Response to Commenter Lydia

  1. “And that is why I have forsaken the TTANC conference this year…you’ll have a plethora of teachers…all of them, who have decided that man’s conscious existence is not necessary to truth.”

    What? I’m talking there and that is not what I think

  2. Argo, I had a bit of help from you guys (John) on articulating my thinking on this but really it comes from 8 years of back and forth intense debates on hermeneutics, interpretations, translations, etc with pastors, pew sitters, etc. All of them supposedly well read in scripture. And so am I. I can debate the ancient understanding of Teshuqa. The 1st Century understanding of Kephale, etc, etc.

    It is a black hole with no result. So now what? I do not discard the scriptures at all. I simply view them very differently. And all that time I spent debating was worth it. It really shaped how I approach it now.

    So, where do we get our understanding of justice, fairness, etc? Well the “idea” of truth starts very early….on the playground with the declaration: That is NOT fair!

    That simple declaration comes from inside of us as children. It is a “truth” as to what is fair and what isn’t. Now we all know that environment, etc challenges that thinking as we grow up.

    I think John was really on to truth when he described us as “contractural beings”.

  3. I don’t see how we can make the Bible the “standard” for truth considering how it came to us through an oral tradition that was written down much later and then how the books were chosen and compiled. That does not mean it does not contain truth. Nor does it mean it was not “inspired”.

    I am just now starting to get into the historical aspect of how the books were chosen etc but here is a snippet I found that was more of an overview than the minutia you find with some evangelical sources:

    “The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were widely accepted as canonical books of scripture by the beginning of the 2nd century AD, about 70 years after Jesus was crucified. At the same approximate time, Clement of Rome wrote about the New Testament for the first time.

    By the end of the second century, a movement had begun to name the books to be included in the new canon. Major voices in this effort were the early Christian “Fathers” Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. They advocated for the inclusion of 20 New Testament books. They did not accept the books of Hebrews, James, Second Peter, Third John, Jude or Revelation. Between 200 and 325AD, the book of Revelation had become accepted. This was assisted by the work of the early Christian “Fathers,” Origen and Eusebias. In 367, Athanaseus lobbied for the full canon of 27 books, which were adopted by the major factions of the church at two major meetings, called synods. One was held at Hippo Regius in 393, the other at Carthage in 397.

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/about_4578668_was-new-testament-compiled.html#ixzz2zFvzhIvj

    (Note, I have a hard time trusting sources but in effect it boils down to some men who decided what I was to be reading as the standard for truth. And I have read some of these early fathers writings and that does not help!)

  4. “And that is why I have forsaken the TTANC conference this year…you’ll have a plethora of teachers…all of them, who have decided that man’s conscious existence is not necessary to truth.”

    What? I’m talking there and that is not what I think”

    Sorry, John…my mistake. I was making an assumption that perhaps isn’t accurate. I may have mistakenly assumed that since you criticized my position as merely a primacy of consciousness doppelganger that you forsook consciousness as having any relevance to truth at all. I apologize if that is not the case. I guess…I’m not sure where you stand on this issue.

  5. Lydia,

    Well…I have figured out that likely the greatest area of confusion is that people do not make a distinction or understand the difference between something being true and something being the STANDARD of truth.

    The standard of truth is that plumb line which is the reference point. It is that which gets to say what conforms to itself and is thus TRUE (and GOOD), and what rejects itself and is thus FALSE (and EVIL).

    The standard is what is in question. Like you, I have no problem believing that the Bible (some of it, or most of it) is true, but that doesn’t make it the STANDARD any more than a history book or a cook book, because it happens to be true. The standard for truth must be man’s life for one simple reason. Your life is the singularity of your existence It is the inimitable and infinite frame of reference for ALL you observe, and know, and do. Your very being, as an individual, aware of SELF, is the only frame of reference you have for ALL of existence, period. Thus, individual human life must be the only objective standard of truth because individuals have NO OTHER frame of reference. This being the case, if something OUTSIDE of this infinite and absolute frame of reference is claimed as the standard of truth, humanity has no rational way to confirm or affirm this because everything humanity does is from the inexorable and infinite frame of reference of SELF…even declaring an agreement that some other “standard” is indeed the standard. Because humanity can only declare its agreement with the external standard of truth from its own frame of reference, But again, this is NOT the standard of truth…so nothing from that frame of reference can by definition be declared to know, proclaim or apprehend truth. Truth is never a function of what someone says, because they can only speak from their frame of reference. And their frame of reference offers nothing to truth.

    It is absolutely impossible for what is NOT the standard of truth to proclaim truth. Only the standard, by definition, can proclaim what is truth (or not) because only ITS frame of reference is the standard.

    That is why I argue that if man’s life is not the standard of truth, then man cannot know truth. Which makes anyone arguing for an external standard at an impossible cul de sac of reason from the start. If YOU are not the standard of truth, I cannot trust that anything YOU declare is true because it ALWAYS comes from YOUR frame of reference: SELF. And unless your SELF is a frame of reference of metaphysical and epistemological equality with my SELF, then we cannot possibly communicate truth to each other.

    People might argue that God is the standard, and he conveys it to man. Again, impossible. The standard cannot convey its will to others in hopes that they will serve the standard by their free, volitional action. The standard can only act and serve ITSELF, never the “free will” of another agent. The free will of another agent is from the frame of reference of THAT agent, and THAT frame of reference is NOT and never will be the reference point for truth. So that agent is doomed to never apprehend or pursue the truth that the standard proclaims because it must always act from its own frame of reference.

    Man is the ONLY logical standard for truth. Not even God. And that is just NEVER going to fly with some people, no matter how much they hate Calvinism. But you cannot defeat one determinist philosophy with another…because they agree at the core premise: man does not get to possess an efficacious epistemology because he is merely an extension of “God”. What he thinks is pointless.

    The solution to human stubbornness then is not ideas, but force. Violence. A LOT of discernment blogs and anti-Calvinist blogs would better be served by investing their energies in ushering in a statist government.

  6. I think it’s a bit inaccurate to think that without the Bible, all are blind to truth (totally depraved). There are those throughout time who have given their life for another who weren’t professing Christians.

    I believe each person has the truth. And if they love truth, wisdom grows. Each person is able & responsible.

    This is what I see. I’ve been quite stuck in my own time & culture’s information gluttony as if this is the way it’s been since the beginning. What is being told about the illiterate masses? Through the ages… countries & continents had yet to meet a Bible (a translation/interpretation). When the first one was opened, it was spoken of and explained/interpreted based on the missionary’s point of view. Did they hear truth at that point?

    What is being said about all or any one of these people? They had zero truth without it? No way of knowing truth from lie? Inability? And is ability to know truth given by Bible? By someone speaking the Bible? Not the Holy Spirit? Not a personal quest/search? Did they all go to hell because of fate/inability?

    All are unable without an external interpreter? Do NOT trust yourself? God wants someone else to think for you?

  7. “The Bible gets to be true, and specially so, because it utterly affirms the ultimate standard of TRUTH, recognizing it absolutely, beyond any other work ever written.  And that standard, again, is man’s LIFE.  YOU are the reason for the Bible, which means that it serves YOU, YOU do not serve it.” From Argo’s last post.

    Argo, how/when did you realize this? If you wrote about it already, sorry, I forgot or missed it. It is a huge shift, break-away. What’s first required is not a knowledge of Greek or Hebrew but a knowledge of what love is.

  8. “Man’s life is more important that law-keeping.  That was the message.  The only law then, is the law of love. The love of Self which logically demands the love of God and Others.” From Argo’s post before.

    Law-keeping (not murder, steal, etc.) serves life. Yes, the greatest commands are profound. No law is necessary for a righteous person AKA a person who loves & does right no matter. The lover of wrong-doing reads this and thinks, “Hooray, no law, everything goes!”.

    The lover of wrong-doing also dissects the law to parse out what they can get away with & then proceeds to act without shame or guilt. DP, for example. This is why love of truth & right is superior to letter of law.

    A righteous person isn’t interested in getting off on a technicality.

    When the Bible is read as a recipe book, a delicious meal may result, but not always. You will get food poisoning if rotten ingredients are used.

  9. “And that is why I have forsaken the TTANC conference this year…you’ll have a plethora of teachers…all of them, who have decided that man’s conscious existence is not necessary to truth.”

    Oh darn. Make the trip for our sakes & continue discussion on the sidelines and/or in a Q&A session. Been thinking / hoping you could be the musical talent as well. Serious. Very.

  10. “I think John was really on to truth when he described us as “contractural beings”.”

    Yes, I chewed on that for a long while as well. I still do. Those TTANC videos have been incredibly life-changing for me. They helped me put the pieces together to be able to see the picture clearly. I’m glad for John’s strength of purpose. Really for all of your resolve who read here, on PPT & ST.

  11. “Oh darn. Make the trip for our sakes & continue discussion on the sidelines and/or in a Q&A session. Been thinking / hoping you could be the musical talent as well. Serious. Very.”

    A Mom…thanks for that compliment. That was very sweet.

    Oh…here’s a link you might enjoy. This is a song I wrote…a friend of mine is singing harmony and playing the mandolin. He put some nice video to the song and sent it to me a few days ago. It’s an old song…I wrote it like twenty years ago, but the video he made is new.

  12. Your welcome, but I’m not sweet. I hope you do reconsider the conference.

    Like the music! Reminded me of my Louis L’Amour days. I liked his books as a teen. Anyway, I’ll bet some who have left Calvinism can relate to your words.

  13. P.S. I’ll reimburse the gas if you take your mandolin. Serious. Very.

    Maybe Lydia can spare a day. Bridget, Oasis, too? 🙂

    Just daydreaming….

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