The Biblical View of Truth -- By: John W. Robbins

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 18:34 (Spring 2005)
Article: The Biblical View of Truth
Author: John W. Robbins

The Biblical View of Truth

John W. Robbins

The Trinity Foundation
Unicoi, Tennessee

This article was presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday, November 17, 2004 and formerly printed in The Trinity Review (The Trinity Foundation, P.O. Box 68, Unicoi, TN 37692, It is used by permission.

I. Introduction

Let me say at the outset that I do not intend to break any new ground with this paper, but merely to restate a position taught in Scripture and long held by Christians (and by some non-Christians) for a new age and a new church that have largely repudiated it. The irrationalism and anti-intellectualism that have prevailed among the learned since at least the time of Immanuel Kant also began to dominate popular thought in the 19th century, and they show no sign of relinquishing their dominion in the 21st century.

Let me also say that I do not intend to discuss what are usually regarded as the primary theories of truth: the older coherence and correspondence theories, and the modern pragmatic and performative theories. Nevertheless, I must point out that all four theories agree that truth is propositional. According to the coherence theory of truth, true propositions must be logically consistent and imply or presuppose one another; according to the correspondence theory of truth, true propositions must agree with so-called “facts”; according to the pragmatic theory of truth, propositions become true when put into practice if they “work,” that is, lead to some successful or predicted result; and according to the performative theory of truth, saying a proposition is true is merely affirming one’s assent to the proposition. In all this, whatever problems these theories have, they do not have the problem of denying that truth is propositional.

The matter I wish to address is even more fundamental in the discussion of truth than these theories, for in the past century or so, the propositional nature of truth itself has been widely denied, especially in religious matters. There has always been an influential strain in theology that teaches and emphasizes the unknowability of God, going back at least to Dionysius the Areopagite, whose 5th century works, Mystic Theology and Divine Names, in parts a plagiarism of the heathen Proclus, were widely accepted and ushered in the Dark Ages. According to Dionysius, God does not even know himself: “God does not know what he himself is because he is not a what.” As Gordon Clark explains:

The highest cause cannot be truly designated by any name...

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