“Who first coined the saying ‘A camel is a horse designed by a committee’? I don’t know, but I expect it was the same person who said ‘An elephant is a mouse designed to government specifications’.” (1)
This bit of trivia induces laughter. However, French philosopher Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) applied this saying to truth. It developed into the creed for our culture today.
He declared that truth results as a product of a consensus of values. His declaration fostered a revolution in the nature and formulation of truth claims. Now, culture believes that all claims of truth develop within a group or culture, not from an objective standard. Ironically, no standard converted into the standard.
Cultural Truth Claims
Baudrillard’s theory developed into today’s benchmark for truth claims with far reaching effects. It brings us to the following conclusions:
- the rejection of any objective standard for determining truth claims;
- the belief of many interpretations of “truth”, i.e., every group and culture possesses its own “truth”; and
- the rejection of any one explanation of life as THE truth.
One does not have to look far to see the suspicion of truth in our culture. An intense resistance to truth claims of almost any kind demonstrates the lack of trust present in our society. No one possesses THE TRUTH.
Adaptation of Christians to Culture
Sadly, the Christian Church and its members exhibit these characteristics, too. I remember when it all started. It sounded so inclusive in our group Bible studies. Instead of the leader proclaiming the truth of a passage, (s)he asked, “What does this passage mean to you?”
Everyone shared his or her opinion, and leaders failed to point to the true meaning of the passage. Everyone’s opinion had equal value. Biblical uncertainty crept into believer’s lives, because no one discerned the warning signs of skepticism.
Baudrillard’s claim turned into common practice for the Church. The church now commonly follows the culture. For example, the Church:
- rejects any objective standard for determining Biblical truth claims;
- accepts many, virtually any, interpretations as “truth”; and
- denies any one explanation of a Biblical text as THE truth.
Sadly, this practice plays a significant role in the Church’s spiritual decadence. She cannot resist culture’s fallacies and decays from the inside. In fact, the Church proudly mimics the culture to the delight of multitudes of churchgoers and to the sorrow of only the few.
The Christian Church bought the lie that to win the culture She must conform to the culture.