We are subjective creatures. We have a consciousness that provides us with an internal reality, one we experience within of our inner self. We have private preferences, opinions, fears, and biases, which are very real in our thoughts and reflect in our actions. This internal reality is immediate and cannot be overthrown, at least not without receding into irrational alternatives. However, there is also the external world for which we have to account.
Reality is after all comprised of not only conscious creatures but also the environment in which they live. When people say, ‘you have your truth, and I have mine,’ are they suggesting that the world is different for them? Or are they trying to say that truth is merely subjective? It couldn’t be the latter though since truth is that which corresponds to reality. And since reality includes the entire known physical world, it cannot be a personal internal thing. So, while the ‘your truth, my truth’ mentality is representative of the popular sentiment of the day, it is rooted in a personal internal battle with the external reality.
When Christians assert that Jesus is the only way to heaven, it is not meant to be taken merely as an internal subjective belief that Jesus saves, but one that corresponds to an external reality. The belief is an internal representation of an outward reality. Some would think it to be arrogant and intolerant of people to claim that they have come to the one true God and reject all false gods and religions. But mutually exclusive claims are made by virtually all religions. Are all religious views arrogant? Or do they merely all make truth claims, which may or may not be representative of reality? Truth, by its very definition, is exclusive. If something is true, then all views contradicting that must be false.
We may legitimately differ in our preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with these differences. But truth does not lay hostage, shackled by our preferences. An overwhelming body of work that includes the biblical writings and ancient historians testify of Jesus of Nazareth. But many atheists claim that such a man never existed. Jesus either existed, or he didn’t. The Bible tells us that Jesus was crucified. The Koran tells that Jesus was not crucified. Jesus was either crucified, or he wasn’t. He either rose from the dead or he didn’t. There is little use for opinion in the matter. When we look at the historical record we can be fairly certain that Jesus of Nazareth existed and was crucified, even though the Koran would tell us that he was not. When we look at the historical record, we see a very compelling case for the Bible being the inspired word of God, even though virtually every other religious view would be in disagreement.
Now, how do you see Jesus? Did he exist? Who was he? Was he just a human being, perhaps a good moral teacher? These are relatively common conclusion that people have come to regarding Jesus. But are any of these real options? When we read what Jesus claimed about Himself, we should be awestruck at how precisely he pointed to himself as the one and only true God. C.S. Lewis put it brilliantly when he said,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Preferences will differ, and that’s what makes the world so diverse and interesting. However, that which is to be found in the real world apart from mere desire or preference, that which aligns with reality, cannot be approached merely by the existential monotony of the merely internal self. It must be cohesive with the external world. Preferences, as wonderfully diverse as they may be, cannot be rationally imposed on the external world.
Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity: Revised/Amplified Edition, 52.
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