Faith

Claiming you know the truth is arrogant and intolerant

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). All followers of Christ should believe what He said and hence we believe we know the truth (who is Jesus and his teachings). Does that make Christians arrogant and intolerant people?

If someone accuses you of being arrogant and intolerant because you claim you know the truth then he would have to admit he is also being arrogant and intolerant. After all he is claiming to know this truth: “claiming you know the truth is arrogant and intolerant”. So ultimately his accusation is self-refuting.

Does simply claiming one knows the truth about something make one arrogant and intolerant? Here are two counter-examples (I’m sure you can think of many others). If I meet a friend in a pub and he looks drunk, would it be arrogant of me to advise him not to drive and take a taxi home? If I know a neighbour is incurring a lot of gambling debt, would it be arrogant of me to advise him to stop gambling?

Postmodernism is perhaps the most pervasive, fundamental worldview in our culture today. The essence of Postmodernism is the notion that everybody decides for himself what is true and what is right. You hear Postmodernism when you hear people say things like “That’s true for you, but not for me,” or “You have your truth; I have mine,” or “That’s just your personal belief.”

The Postmodernist are often the ones who accuse those who claim they know the truth as arrogant and intolerant. They claim that there is no overarching truth that applies to everybody. Of course, in claiming that there is no overarching truth that applies to everybody, they are making an overarching truth claim that applies to everybody. Hence, their claim is self-refuting and cannot represent reality.

In conclusion, simply claiming to know the truth about something is not arrogant or intolerant; it’s how you treat another person that shows if you are arrogant or humble, intolerant or tolerant. John 1:17 states, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” One of the implications of this verse is simply that grace and truth must be held together when evaluating different worldviews, and when relating to the people that hold them. The Apostle Peter shows the need for both when he says in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have [referring to truth]. But do this with gentleness and respect [referring to grace].”

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