The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Can Something Be True for You, but Not True for Me?

Posted on: January 31, 2017


On one level, yes, something can be true for you but not true for me. For example, I actually like broccoli. It’s not that I don’t hate it. It’s that I like it. I enjoy eating it. If you asked me if broccoli was good, I would say, “Yes.”

However, I have a friend who, many years ago, was playing basketball with his dad in the driveway of his house on a warm summer evening. A few years ago, his mother told me this story of that evening when she called them in for dinner. She had fixed broccoli as one of the menu items. The windows and doors were open to the nice weather, and as my friend and his father approached the backdoor of the house, she heard one of them say, “My word, what is that smell?” And after a few more steps, the other said, “Oh, good grief. It’s coming from in there!”

If you asked them if broccoli was good, they would say, “No.”

So, on the level of food preferences, something can be true for me but not true for you.

However, on another level, on an objective level, something cannot be true for me and not true for you. For example 2 + 2 = 4 is true for you and it is true for me. We cannot choose whether or not we want it to be true.

What we think about something does not change it. For example, if I held up a jigsaw puzzle box and gently rattled it and asked you what was in it, you would likely say, “A jigsaw puzzle.” And why not? It looks like a puzzle box. It sounds like a puzzle box. Why would anyone doubt that there was a puzzle in the box?

But let’s say I opened the box to reveal that it was filled with little pretzels, which sound exactly like pieces of a puzzle when the box is shaken.

Did what you think was in the box (puzzle pieces) affect what was actually in the box (pretzels)? Of course not. Something is not affected by what we think of it.

In another example, have you ever seen a picture of a radio disk jockey whose voice you were familiar with, and were then surprised when you saw a picture of him, because he didn’t look a bit like what you thought he would look like? Or perhaps you have talked with someone over the phone and then one day got to meet her, and she did not look at all like what you thought she was going to look like. Was that person affected by what you thought she looked like? No. A short, stocky person does not become tall and thin just because you envisioned him in your mind as tall and thin. In the same way, truth is not changed by what we think of it.

The same is true of God.

A lady named Deidre Sullivan has written a book, entitled What Do We Mean When We Say God?   It is a compilation of hundreds of quotes from a project in which thousands of people were asked the simple question, What do you mean when you say ‘God?   The answers are all over the place.

  • Jacki Maher from Missoula, Montana said, “I believe God has some faults just like everybody else. I think God is overwhelmed by what’s going on” (p. 25).
  • Isaac Asimov, the science-fiction writer said, “It seems to me that God is a convenient invention of the human mind. By imagining a God, then, human beings avoid having to do anything about their own ignorance and helplessness and this saves a lot of trouble” (p. 29).
  • Friederich Nietzsche is quoted as saying, “Which is it, is man one of God’s blunders or is God one of man’s?” (p. 42).
  • Gabriel Green of Yucca Valley, California ventures the opinion that “God is the electromagnetic field surrounding the earth out of which everything is composed” (p. 58).
  • Kenra Wilson, at the time a student at Harvard said, “God is a psychological phenomenon. It doesn’t make any difference whether or not God exists because the effect of belief on people’s minds is the same” (p. 69).
  • Rich Popovic, a teenager from Yonkers, New York suggests, “I see God as a friend, a guy I hang out with, a poker buddy, a fishing pal, someone you can relax with. In all seriousness, I can picture myself kicking back with God and having a cold one. Really, I mean it” (p. 77).
  • William Kautz of Fairfax, California states, “God is a very personal thing—which does not mean that He is a person. It means that each person has the opportunity to devise his own notion of what God is to him.” (p. 95).

However, there is a fundamental principle of reality that something cannot be “A” and “non-A” at the same time. Therefore, all these different concepts about God cannot possibly be true.

The most insightful quote in the entire book came from the lips of Judith Chapman-Ward, from Chicago, who said:

Although the peoples of the world have concluded that there are many definitions of God, there is only one… No matter what we mean when we say ‘God,’ it has no real value unless God says the same thing.

Just as pretzels in a puzzle box are not changed by what we think about them, just as a disk jockey’s looks are not changed by what we think about him, so God is not changed by what we think about Him. He is what/who He is, regardless of what we think about Him.

Many years ago, I read in the magazine of a Sunday paper a statement by Marilyn Vos Savant, who rose to fame in the mid-80s as the person with the highest recorded IQ: 190. She has written an “answer” column in the Sunday magazine for many years. One Sunday, she was asked what she thought was the highest, most significant thing she knew. She said, “Truth is the most significant concept I know of, because truth is truth. It is not affected by what we think of it. It stands independent of all else.”

And so it does. Truth is what God says it is, regardless of what we think.

And what is more, Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). To the degree that we do not know truth, we are vulnerable to ignorance and deception. To the degree that we do know truth, believe it, and follow it, we can be set free in all areas of life.


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