Is it possible that some of us are so committed to defending “absolute truth” that we forget how “relative” our understanding can be?
Admittedly, those who say “all things are relative” often mean that one opinion is as good as another—especially when they want their own opinion to be as good, or better, than anyone else’s.
Relative thinking has its place. According to the Bible, even truth that corresponds to the reality of God (as an absolute fact), is still understood (relatively) through the lens of our own limited perspective (1Cor 4:3-4; 13:12).
Our reassurance in limitation is that if, as the Bible also tells us, God takes the initiative to reveal Himself to human sense and reason, he can enable us to have absolutely reliable, though limited, knowledge of whatever He wants us to know.
The God of the Bible uses both absolute and relative truth to inspire confidence, love, and humility. From Genesis to Revelation we read about a perfect, self-existing, Creator who gives us enough reason and revelation to worship him—in humble awareness of how limited and relative our understanding of absolute truth is.
This is Isaiah’s vision of God when he writes, “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite (i.e. broken) and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa 57:15).
This God reconciles our understanding of absolute and relative truth in the person of His Son. Though self-existent, with no need of us in the mystery of eternity past, He now comes as one eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners.
He shows the heart of God in relation/relative to a Samaritan woman who has been married five times and is living with a man to whom she is not married.
He shows God offering relationship to diseased, demon oppressed, desperate people like us.
As he willingly died in our place, he offered eternal friendship in paradise to a condemned criminal who shared his day of execution.
This is the Son of God who has come into our lives to make it possible for us have as much absolutely reliable understanding as we need to trust and love Him—while remaining humbled by the relatively little we can absorb…
With the confidence that God has given us enough truth to love him and one another, the Apostle Paul writes, “Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1Co 13:12).
Note: Because this can sound like double-talk, hope some of you will weigh in as to whether this resonates with your own understanding of the Bible and life… Also, the two pics of the young woman’s face and the close up of the colored pins are two perspectives of an art exhibit that recently showed in our city