True for You, But Not For Me
Since the church began, objections have been raised to the faith. They have varied according to the beliefs and mindset of the day. To be effective in taking a stand for the truth, Christians have had to know the current questions and objections. Maybe you've heard some of the more common objections today such as "Jesus never claimed to be God," or, "What gives you the right to say other people's morals are wrong?" Or how about, "That might be true for you, but it's not true for me." Sometimes these objections are well thought out, but often they sound more like slogans, catch-phrases the non-believer has heard but to which he or she probably hasn't given much thought.
If objections such as these have brought an abrupt end to any of your conversations because you weren't sure how to respond, a book published last year might be just what you need. The title is "True For You, But Not For Me": Deflating the Slogans That Leave Christians Speechless, and it was written by Paul Copan, an associate with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Copan's goal in this book is to provide responses for Christians who find themselves stumped by the objections of critics. To that end he deals with objections in such areas as knowledge of truth, morality, the uniqueness of Christ, and the hope of those who've never heard the Gospel. In this article, I'll pull out a few of these objections and give brief answers, some from Copan, and some of my own.
Before doing that, however, I need to make an important point. If non-believers are doing nothing more than sloganeering by hurling objections that they really don't understand, rattling off memorized answers that we don't understand, Christians can be guilty of the same behavior of our opponents. Even though the objections might sound recorded, our answers needn't. Thus, I strongly suggest that you get a copy of Copan's book or obtain some other books on apologetics which will fill in the gaps left by our discussion.
Let's begin with a brief look at the issue of relativism and what it means for discussions about Christianity.
Relativism shows itself primarily in matters of truth and morality. When we say that truth is relative, we mean that it differs according to the times, or to particular circumstances, or to differing tastes and interests. It is the denial that objective truth exists; that is, truth that applies to all people and for all time. Now, most people will probably agree that there is truth in matters of scientific fact, but with respect to religion and morality, each person is said to have his or her own truth. Such things are matters of opinion at best, and are true only relative to particular individuals.
The implications of this are enormous. The claim to have the truth about a person's relationship with God is considered arrogant or elitist. Tolerance becomes the "cardinal virtue."
Relativism with Respect to Knowledge
Let's consider the objection represented in the title of Copan's book: that is, "Well, that may be true for you, but it's not for me." Here the non-believer is essentially saying that it's okay for you to adopt Christianity if you choose, that it can be your truth. But as far as he's concerned, he has not chosen to believe it, so it isn't true for him.
This objection would make better sense if the critic said, "Christianity is meaningful for you, but it isn't for me." Or, "Christianity might work for you, but it doesn't for me." These are reasonable objections and invite serious discussion about the meaning of Christ for every individual and how Christianity "works" in our lives. But the objection voiced is that Christianity is true for some people, but not for others. How can that be? Truth is that which is real or statements about what is really the case. "True for you, but not for me" can only be a valid idea if truth is relative to persons, times, circumstances, or places.