Monday, April 2, 2012

12 Step Program

So, in a Bible study I go to, we recently started going over The(?) 12 Step Program to help a person get past an addiction. It is popularly known by its use in Alcoholics Anonymous, and the leaders/hosts of the Bible study have both been through AA and are recovering alcoholics - they have personal experience with the program and its success.
The 12 Step program was mentioned in my Abnormal Psych class the other day, but the grad student who was giving the lecture (My professor focuses on a different subject matter and is starting to invite guest lecturers in to cover topics he is not as familiar with.), she mentioned that the 12 step program was good for people who are at a point where they want to get help and get past an addiction, but that the program had been criticized for its emphasis on spirituality, which is not for everyone.

And that is what I want to vent about, sort of. Because when I hear something like, "Spirituality/Religion/God is not for everyone," what I am actually hearing is "The truth is not for everyone." And I am strongly against that stance. I believe that everyone deserves to hear and know the truth. But, I don't think that the person/people who would make a statement like the first would understand that I transition to the second almost instantly. And this, I think, is the underlying issue. Or at least one of them.

The issue I talk about the is question about whether or not there is absolute truth. Is it an absolute truth that God, heaven, and hell exist, or do they just exist for me because I believe in them? (the second part being a relativistic truth system)
I've been thinking about it lately, sort of. I can come up with several arguments against that idea, the one about relative truth, but I have a hard time coming up with arguments for that idea. I would like to think that this is one of a few discussions that I don't know much about both sides while still holding a firm stance, but I don't know for sure. That being said, if you have any arguments for the idea of relative truth (regardless of your personal beliefs), I would be happy to hear them, because I don't want to just rant at nothing.

Relative truth. What I believe exists for me, and what you believe exists for you. Everyone wins, right? But what happens when I try to do that with a physical object? You throw a baseball at me, and I will choose to believe that you did not throw a baseball at me. Now, depending on your accuracy, I will get hit with a baseball. That is what happens, physical things do not disappear simply because we choose not to believe in them. (haha the idea of the cat in the box comes to mind...but I think that has more to do with atomic/nuclear things rather than spiritual things. I could be wrong, feel free to correct me.)
If you choose to believe that the speed limit is 50 mph and drive accordingly, you will still get pulled over if you are driving on a street where the speed limit is 35 and there is a police vehicle watching for speeders. Your beliefs do not change reality. Neither do mine. We will still be held accountable for speeding, even though we may choose to believe otherwise. (possible circumstances where you don't get a ticket: you are not from the area and did not know what the speed limit was, maybe you bribe the police officer or something else illegal, like running away. There are probably more.)

So, does this idea apply to spiritual/religious/God things as well as physical things? Obviously I think so... If I would choose to believe that God did not exist, that I did not have a soul that endures beyond my physical body, that would not change the reality of those things. If I choose to believe that God will not find out or punish me for doing something like running over pedestrians while driving 50 in a 35, that does not change the reality that I will receive punishment for such things. (Now here is where the Gospel comes in. Interesting, because I never intended to make that point. God is pretty neat :P )

As a side note: I am assuming the presence of a spiritual reality, which I know is not agreed upon by all. I can write another blog about why I believe that, but you may have to ask me to or let me know somehow or another. But this one is about truth.

So what is truth? Jesus claimed He was truth. Jesus claimed that He was the only way to the Father (God). (Another possible tangent: Was Jesus being close-minded? Was He being arrogant in saying He is the 'only way'?) Jesus said that He was the one that the Jewish prophets talked about when they talked about a sacrifice that would be sufficient for all sin, for all people. They talk about a person who is God incarnate, someone who is a ruler and a king, someone who is a servant, who is beaten and ultimately executed. This is the same someone, and many believe that Jesus is the person they were describing. Jesus said that He is/was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). That sounds pretty absolute. And if Jesus was serious, and correct, about the claims He made, then shouldn't we take them seriously? Shouldn't we look at what Jesus claimed before we try to dismiss Him as some other crazy guy who thought he was God? What merit does Jesus, or the Bible, have? I think these questions are worth answering because, again, if what is in the Bible is true, and if what Jesus said is true, then it is of the utmost importance.


  1. Good notes, I've also been thinking about truth lately, what a coincidence (or plan from God).

    One thought I had on what truth is can be demostrated with a metaphor (I love metaphors). Pretend you have a flashlight. You can look at the flashlight directly and see its radience or you can cover it with paper or other object (possibly colored!). You are seeing the same light, but you're covering it with other objects, possibly to make it into a cool shape or color. Now, what if the flashlight is truth. There is only one truth, but each person will cover/alter it until it is pleasing to them.

    Another note on flashlights. When people use them to make shadow puppets, no one cares about the light. People only care about the shadows. The light is just a tool in order to see the real object of our interest, the thing blocking the light. (I never intended to combine the two previous paragraphs of thought, but I think it works pretty well. God is good)

    Final comment. In John 14:6 Jesus says He is 'THE way, THE truth and THE life' (note the emphasis) He didn't come to be A way, A truth or A life. He didn't come to be an option. No-one would argue with you if you held the later case. Your truth would be relative, you have your way, I have mine. The persecution comes with the first case, the definitive, unnerving, out of our control case. But this is the truth.

    Actual final comment. (totally copying Mich H.) If you know the truth and someone believes a lie, what would you do about it. If someone came up to you and said 2+2=5, wouldn't you try everything in your power to show them 2+2=4. Or would the relative, your truth is your truth, be fine. I think a lot of math teachers would greatly disagree.

    Live for Him,


  2. I agree with your thoughts on relative truth. Truth isn't relative. Either something is true, or it isn't. if something is "true for you but not for me" then it's just an opinion. and "opinions are immunity to being told you're wrong"--relienk k ftw. About the "existing for me because I believe in it" part...if I had to be completely honest, sometimes the idea crosses my mind that I feel things/hear things because I believe in it that strongly. that maybe it's just some intense hallucination. and if that's the case, i'd rather live in a hallucination that live with the feeling that I may never find someone who loves me unconditionally and that there really is no purpose to life. I have things i want to accomplish in life and things I'm passionate about, but is that my purpose? What do I do when I accomplish them? What would be my purpose then? What if I don't accomplish my goals? then was life still worthwhile? Did I have a meaningful existence? I guess I choose to believe in God because He has answers to all of these questions. and I feel better believing that my life has meaning regardless of what I accomplish. So if it is a hallucination, I believe it because I can't handle the unanswered questions of reality. and reality bites, so... I choose to believe that a person is more than what he or she does in life. (I have more reasons for believing in God. This is just one of them.) and I don't think I've ever really explained my feelings about this to anyone before, so why I'm choosing to do it on a public website is beyond me. i like to be honest sometimes, i guess.

  3. Travis - I like the flashlight metaphor; I have heard a similar one but where true life is water and that water is coming from God. Every human is a watering can of some kind, and some are dirty or clean or rusty. The quality of water than comes out of the can depends on the quality of the can itself. I think it gets at a different point, but yeah. Metaphors are neat :)
    What you say about John 14:6 is also true, it is easy and 'politically correct' to say that Jesus is just 'one out of many' ways to everlasting life, but it is not 'cool' to say that Jesus is the ONLY way. And that is a good point, from Mich :P convicting.

    Jessica - I like the Relient K reference :) And I think what you pointed out (that God can provide answers that are not anywhere else) is one (of many) reasons that many people choose to believe in God. Your honesty is easy to see, and I appreciate that. And I thank you for sharing some of why you believe in God :) I hope to hear more of that in the future!