Truth, Evangelicalism, and the Bible -- By: Chad V. Meister

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 05:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Truth, Evangelicalism, and the Bible
Author: Chad V. Meister

Truth, Evangelicalism, and the Bible

Chad V. Meister, Ph.D.

In philosophy these days the nature of truth is currently one of the major enigmas, and widely divergent and contrary views on the subject have emerged. Thus, to note only a few of the prominent dichotomies, substantive theories are contrasted with deflationist or minimalist accounts, intuitionists with metaphysical realists, and correspondence theorists with pragmatists. To add perplexity to the already obscure, truth in religion is often considered to be radically distinct from truth in other domains such as science or mathematics; it is sometimes viewed, for example, as personal or ineffable rather than as propositional. Evangelical exclusivism,1 however, seems to entail a view of truth in religion—e.g., biblical truth—which is propositional and absolutist. But is this correct?

In this article, I first offer a cursory overview of the most recent discussions in truth theory and attempt to untangle several of the metaphysical knots implicit in these discussions. I then sketch a correspondence account construed in realist terms that avoids difficulties inherent in some recent versions of the correspondence theory. Finally, I

argue that a correspondence view best accounts for the role of truth in religion—most notably in evangelicalism and its understanding of biblical truth.

I. Brief Overview of Truth Theory

It is clear that the two earliest views of truth expressed in the West, those of Plato and Aristotle, were both types of correspondence accounts. In the Sophist, for example, at 262E-263D the Stranger presents the West's first written (albeit brief) explication of the true and the false whereby the true claim is the one which states that things are as they are, and the false claim is the one which states things different from the way they are. In the Metaphysics Aristotle offers a similar view.It is here that his well-known platitude on truth appears: ”To say that [either] that which is is not or that which is not is, is a falsehood; and to say that which is is and that which is not is not, is true.”2 Truth, both for Plato and Aristotle as well as most of the thinkers up until the late nineteenth century, is a kind of agreement with reality—a correspondence between what is stated and the facts about which the statement is concerned. Further elaborations on this correspondence view included the notion that truth is a relational property of the (universal) propositions which instantiate it. Propositions and the world in which the propositions correspond are mind-ind...

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