ALL TRUTH IS GOD’S TRUTH


“All truth is God’s truth.” This phrase has often been applied whenever Christian writers seek to justify an idea that cannot be founded squarely on the Scriptures. ‘Christian’ psychologists appeal to it to justify their application or adaptation of secular psychology into Christian counselling. ‘Christian’ scientists appeal to it when propounding theistic evolution.


But is all truth really God’s truth? In other words, is all truth sanctioned and approved by God? Objectively, the answer would be “yes.” God is a “God of truth” (Deut 32:4; Ps 31:5; Isa 65:16). And truth cannot contradict truth or one is a falsehood. However, it is a known fact that not everyone understands the meaning of “truth” in the same way. Pilate’s question: “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38) well illustrates this point. So before we agree with anyone who says, “All truth is God’s truth.” we must find out what exactly he means by “truth.”


Scripture and Interpretations


If what is meant by “truth” is what is revealed in the Word of God, then we have no quarrels with the assertion that all truth is God’s truth. The Lord Jesus says: “Thy word is truth” (Jn 17:17). Without a shadow of doubt, everything in the Word of God, and all logical and necessary consequences are true. Now, the same cannot be said for the interpretation of the Scripture. Two contradictory interpretations of the same passage in Scripture cannot be both right. One or both of them must be wrong and therefore false. But I believe that if the Scripture is interpreted faithfully according to the Analogy of the Faith and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the interpretation will be according to the truth.


Scientific and Mathematical Facts


What about empirical scientific facts involving nature, mathematics and physical sciences? 1 + 1 = 2; Force = Mass x Acceleration; and H2O is water are mathematical and scientific truths. That normally a bullfrog tadpole will develop into a bullfrog, and a monarch caterpillar will develop into a monarch butterfly (if they do not die before time) are biological truths. These are undeniable laws of nature that in fact form the basis of the cosmological argument for the existence of God (Rom 1:20). Yes, we can accept these as truths; and can study and apply these knowledge with a clear conscience, knowing that we have the approval of God.


Scientific Theories


What about the theories of the origin of the universe and of the species, such as the Big Bang Theory, or Evolutionism? Are these not established and proven scientific facts and so are God’s truths? Most assuredly no! However fascinating these theories may be, they remain theories that can neither be undeniably proven nor verified. No matter how certain a scientist may be of the veracity of his theory of the origin of the universe, he should bear in mind the LORD’s admonition to Job:

Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding (Job 38:2–4).


When a crime is discovered, a team of investigators, forensic scientists or pathologists might be able to reconstruct the events surrounding the crime. However, the accuracy of their theory or theories will depend very much on whether there are witnesses available and how long ago the crime had happened. If there are no witnesses, and the crime happened a long time ago, the possibility of solving the crime becomes practically impossible. Sometimes there are apparent evidences to support a particular reconstruction, and these evidences can seem very compelling in supporting the proposed theory. However, should an eye-witness appear eventually and relate what actually happened, it may be found that the theory is way off what actually happened. In a simplistic way, we may say the same for all theories of the origin of the universe and of the species.


It has been said that “When the evidence contradicts the theory, the scientist rejects the theory, while the theologian rejects the evidence.” I do not think this should be the case. I do not think any objective, verifiable evidence that involves no speculation at all will contradict the Bible.


It would be foolish to conclude from Psalm 113:3 that the sun revolves around the earth; or from Revelation 7:1 that the earth is a rectangular flat piece of land; or from Genesis 1:14–16 that the moon produces its own light. There are concrete, irrefutable, empirical evidence to prove those assertions to be wrong. This does not mean that the Scripture is wrong. What it means is that our interpretation is wrong. All those passages make use of a genre of expressions known as phenomenological language which should not have been interpreted literally.


However, I cannot say that the evidences in support of evolutionism are beyond any doubt. Neither do I see any compelling reason why the creation account should not be interpreted literally.


There is a world of a difference between the hypotheses in this category of ideas and the empirical facts in the realms of mathematics and science. One is verifiable and provable beyond doubt, the other is not. We therefore cannot accept any idea in this category and label them as truth, not to mention the fact that they contradict the Scripture which declares that the world was created by God in six days. Now, in saying this, we are not saying that there are no apparent evidences which appear to point to evolution as there are also evidences that appear to point to creationism (see for example, John C. Whitcomb, The Early Earth: An Introduction to Biblical Creationism [Baker, 1992]). We are saying that none of these evidences are verifiable beyond doubt. This being the case, we should rather believe only in the Word of God. The Word is true regardless of whether the evidences found by creation scientist are accurate. We rejoice that there is concurrence with the Word, but we must not think that the Word is true only because there are evidences. This is especially so when the interpretation of the evidences does involve a certain amount of speculation. Having said this, we must reassert that: No true science will contradict the Bible and conversely, the Bible does not contradict true science.


Human Psychology


And what about the theories of psychology? Have not Freud’s pronouncements of obsessive neurosis; or Jung’s structure of arch-types; or Roger’s ideas of human love and B.F. Skinner’s behaviourism been proven and verified? Should we not apply all these truths to understand the human nature? Should not Christian counsellors apply these truths? Should not the church apply the tools that have been developed out of these and related studies—tools such as personality profile tests—so that members can learn to relate to one another better?


It must be admitted that most, who insist that we should answer in the affirmative to these questions, are careful to select only those ideas that are not directly contradicted, or at least not obviously contradicted by God’s Word. In fact, many also attempt to prove that the ideas are consistent with the Scriptures. Lawrence Crabb, for example, applies Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to his counselling model, and uses Matthew 6:33–34 to prove that it is biblical. According to him, the Christian cannot have a genuine interest in expressing himself for the good of others until his egocentric needs are met (Lawrence Crabb, Effective Biblical Counselling, [Zondervan, 1977], 80).


What do we say to these claims?


Firstly, it is true that psychological statements, which describe human behaviour or which report results of research, can be scientific. However, when psychology moves from describing human behaviour to explaining it, it moves from science to opinion (See Martin & Deidre Bobgan, Psycho Heresy, [East Gate Publishers, 1987], 29). Certainly, we cannot take as fact Crabb’s explanation of a certain Mrs B’s adulterous tendencies as arising because her need for security is not met (Biblical Counselling, 62). Sin and lust are reduced to needs. Certainly then, we cannot treat psychology as “truth” as we did the basic sciences.


Secondly, and more importantly, psychology attempts to study human behaviour with the aim of changing it when necessary. Therefore ‘Christian’ psychologists use the models they developed to try to make better Christians. However, we must realise that God has already claimed as His exclusive domain all truth relating to the soul and nature of man, and how he should live and how he can change:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Pet 1:3; italics mine).


And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Allscripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim 3:15–17;italics mine).


In so far as the human soul is concern, there can be no other truths except that which can be derived from the Scripture. The Bible declares itself and has proven itself sufficient. How dare we take the opinions of unbelieving men and place them alongside the Word of God as truth?


Psychiatry and Brain Research


What about advances in neurological research? Has it not already been proven scientifically that homosexuality and alcoholism are due to genetic predisposition, and therefore the church should not condemn them as sin? Homosexuality had been called sin until the beginning of the 20th century when, largely due to the writings of Sigmund Freud, it has been reclassified as abnormal behaviour; and then within the last twenty years, due to social pressures as well as research works, such as by Simon LeVay and Dean H. Hamer, the classification of homosexuality has been changed to that of natural brain-based or genetic variation of sexual expression. Similarly alcoholism was regarded as sin or at least as a moral weakness leading to sin, but today, it is regarded as a disease not only by the public, but by the American Medical Association.


Are these “truths” also God’s truth? How can they be, seeing they contradict God’s Word blatantly. The Scripture is unambiguous that homosexuality is indeed a sin (cf. Lev 18:22, 20:13; Rom 1:26–27; 1 Cor 6:9–10; Jude 7), and so is drunkenness (cf. Prov 23:29–35; Rom 13:13; Gal 5:21).


But moral definition aside, should not we at least take heed to these researches so that when we counsel a homosexual and alcoholic, we may say to him: “I know you can’t help it, you will always think about it and want it. Your desire will always be there because this is the way you are, but you can certainly control yourself just as any other persons can and must control their lusts”? The problem with such a counselling approach is that it contradicts the Scripture which teaches us that sin begins with desire:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (Jas 1:13–15).


What is a sin in act is already sin when there is a desire (cf. Mt 5:28). It is no sin to be tempted, but when temptation bears fruit in the form of desire, sin is already present. Thus, if an act is prohibited in the Scriptures, the desire is also prohibited, and must be repented of.


Therefore any approach that attempts to justify desire or orientation, while condemning sinful behaviour falls short of what the Scripture teaches. And we agree with Edward T. Welch, that

The victim of such counsel will never have the privilege of battling and rooting out sin at the level of the imagination. And eventually they will feel justified in being angry at God for giving them an orientation that they may not live out (Blame it on the Brain [P&R, 1998], 158).


Conclusion


Our final section on neurological research well illustrates how ready many Christians are to take all purported ‘truths’ to be God’s truth, or truths which are on par with the Word of God. The fact is that none of the researches on homosexuality and alcoholism or any other so-called disorders have been conclusive, verifiable, and undeniable (see ibid., 165–71; 196–7). All truths are indeed God’s truth, but not all purported truths are God’s truth.


In view of the current explosion of information,—most of which claiming to be true,—through the media and internet, the Christian would do well to be very well acquainted with the Word of God so that he may have a yard stick to measure all other purported truths. Is there something presented as truth which contradicts the Scriptures? Let us be very suspicious of it even if it is supposedly supported by evidence and research. I believe that no objective, verifiable, empirical data that involve no speculation or human bias can contradict the Bible. The history of scientific and pseudo-scientific discoveries has, to my knowledge, yet to yield any such data as would irrefutably contradict the Scripture. I do not believe there will ever surface such data, for the Word of God is true and all truth is God’s truth.


JJ Lim