I read in the preface of a book I just picked up:
“We know that truth is eternal and unchanging.”
My problem is that I don’t know that. Sure, if I were convinced that Plato got it right, I’d think such a thing. All truths are eternal and unchanging. Anything that isn’t eternal and unchanging doesn’t count as truth. But I’m not a Platonist – at least not in my epistemology.
I’m one of those who, when confronted by Lessing’s Ugly Ditch, happily lives in the land of the Accidental Truths of History. I find this to be the natural place for Christians to live.
I’d have no trouble with the claim, “Some truths are eternal and unchanging.” I’m sure that’s too weak for the people who would want to say such things, however.
As a Christian I count “Jesus died for the sins of the world” to be a true statement. Being a true statement, does that make it a truth? I suppose it can. Is this truth eternal and unchanging? Even if we want to take the translation of Revelation 13:8 that speaks of the lamb “slain from the foundation of the world,” are we justified in taking “Jesus died for the sins of the world” to be eternal and unchanging?
The Bible depicts Jesus being born, walking around, teaching, preaching, healing – and dying. If, after he fed the 5000 you were to walk up to Peter, James and John and say, “Jesus died for the sins of the world” they wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about (even assuming you were speaking Aramaic). Jesus was standing right over there – how could we say he “died for the sins of the world?” Jesus himself could say at that point that he will die for the sins of the world, but the actual death had not yet happened.
Even if you want to argue that in light of Revelation 13:8 that there is a sense in which that living, walking, talking Jesus had already died for the sins of the world, having been slain before the foundation of the world, would you really see this claim as absolutely eternal and unchanging? And does “before the foundation of the world” mean “always and forever,” i.e., “eternal?”
Or, let’s try another statement Christians take to be true: “Jesus rose from the dead.” Does count as truth? If so, has it always been true? Can a truth be eternal and unchanging if there is some point in time when it is not true?
Having raised these questions let me affirm that since these events have happened in the past they will now be true forever. I can also affirm that some truths are eternal and unchanging, “God is ruler of the universe” is an example. While God’s rule might be manifested or experienced in different ways in different contexts, it is eternally and unchangingly true that God is ruler of the universe.
Can you be a Christian without being a Platonist with regard to truth? Sure seems that way to me.