There is a solitary, Absolute Truth.
What is so terribly wrong with all things relative? What is it that makes people of faith wet their pants when one asserts, “There are no absolutes.” “All things change and evolve.”
There is no question that things change.
And not always for the better.
But does Truth change? Is Truth malleable? Is there really such a thing as Absolute Truth?
Science would like to tell us YES! Absolutely! I clearly remember my High School science teacher instructing us that there were exactly 98 elements in the Periodic Table. There would never be anymore; could never be anymore. (I must tell you that even my 15-year-old brain challenged that. But I accepted it. After all, Mr. Graham was a Science teacher.)
Check this out – directly from the sacred scribblings of Wikipedia:
All elements from atomic numbers 1 (hydrogen) to 118 (ununoctium) have been isolated. (All of them?) Of these, all up to and including californium (Californium? Why am I not surprised?) exist naturally; the rest have only been artificially synthesised in laboratories, along with numerous synthetic radionucleides of naturally occurring elements. Production of elements beyond ununoctium is being pursued, with the question of how the periodic table may need to be modified to accommodate these elements being a matter of ongoing debate.
Are there contradictions here? How can “All elements . . . be identified or isolated” and at the same time say that “the periodic table may need to be modified?” How does one assert that “elements . . . exist naturally, and others are synthesized along with these natural elements?”
Now, there are 118 and counting. That’s 20 more. If there can’t be anymore, where did they come from? And is that it? Are there yet more? Now, it seems chemists can actually create “elements.” Now we have elements that exist naturally and those “elements,” supposedly utterly unique, irreducible substances, that we have created.. Science, it appears, has to move the line of “Absolute (or irreducible) Truth” whenever it seems, well, less absolute.
Every day, we discover that what we thought was immutable scientific truth, or fact, is not at all. We say that the “laws of physics” are uniform everywhere and unchangeable. Yet Einstein tells us that no particle of matter can exceed the speed of light. Now CERN has clocked one subatomic particle traveling faster than the speed of light. In fact, this “particle’s” speed was not natural. It was amped by human effort.
So much for scientific absolutes.
The notion of God? Even how we think about God has changed over the years, over the centuries. The God of the Hebrew Scriptures, think some, is radically different that the “Father” revealed by Jesus. That’s right, when Jesus came, he told us that God was our “Father.” That had not been said before. Then he said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father.”
Quite a change . . . or so it would seem.
Paul went even further and told us it was ok to call God, “Daddy,” (Abba). Big change, very big change from the Old Testament.
We humans find a certain security in things Absolute; things that will not, cannot change no matter what influence or pressures befall them. The Scriptures clearly teach that God is immutable (does not change), that he is Absolute, that he will not, cannot change, that he is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
How is it then, that the God who orders the annihilation of the inhabitants of Jericho, men, women, children, babies, horses, cows and goats – anything living, (except for a whore named Rahab, who was really good at lying) how is it that the God who ordered that, be the God that Jesus revealed? The God who loves all men?
Then there is the story of king Saul and the Amalekites. Saul was instructed to kill them all, (I Samuel 15:3), and he did – except for Agag the king and the livestock. He left the rest, including women and infants, lying decapitated and disemboweled scattered about and in their homes. Then, we are told, God got really mad at Saul, not for his war crimes, but that he brought king Agag back along with the cows, sheep and goats! Samuel, the prophet, later accommodated God by hacking Agag to pieces with a sword.
In captivity, the psalmist observes, regarding the infants in Babylon, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks,.” (Psalm 137:9). Nice guy. Shades of today’s news from Syria?
In the biblical context of these and other similar events, how is it that Jesus could say, “He that has seen me, has seen the Father.” Jesus taught us to love our enemies. Somehow, the more we know about Jesus, the more we think about him, the more we engage him, the less we think about slaughtering babies and animals. Jesus taught us to do good to those who persecute us. Did God change? And if so, how is he absolute? How do we comprehend the God of the Hebrew Scriptures with the Father Jesus revealed?
Well, now that we’ve stirred up a theological hornet’s nest, where do we go from here?
I think the answer may lie in the observation above, “. . . even how we think about God has changed.” This suggests that this whole discussion may not be about God at all, but about how he is perceived by we humans.
Let us be clear: God is Absolute, because HE IS, which is to say: God is his own definition. He exists up, over, and above our paltry comprehension. He always has been, he is today, and he forever will be in his essence, in that which humans understand God as God, the unchangeable God. We change. We see him differently as we develop, but it is always – always through a glass darkly, until and unless we see him in Jesus.
Until we see Jesus who is the Way, the absolute TRUTH, and the Life. (Jn. 14:6)