If you haven’t been following along in this conversation about Absolute/Objective Truth, you can see where we’re been (also here and here), what we’re up to and where we’re going.

The main point of my argument thus far is this: Christians seem to think that to be Christian, they must argue for the existence of Absolute/Objective Truth, which they then proceed to equate with God/Jesus/The Bible. The whole sense of a “requirement” for this kind of argument in Christianity is unnecessary and has dangerous consequences. Two reasons.

First, to make the argument for the existence of Absolute/Objective truth, Christians have to borrow from a grammar that is not distinctly Christian, thus forcing them at times to make arguments that are not distinctly Christian (take for example Intelligent Design, which many Christians wholeheartedly support – it argues for a “god” any monotheist could accept – a “god” who is not distinctly the God of Jesus Christ).

Second, the borrowing of this grammar is done as an effort to defend Christianity (or justify it) usually in scientific or philosophical ways. In the end, the goal of Christians is to argue for the truth of their beliefs and the authority of their worldview over and against all others. However, by making purchases from a grammar that is not distinctly Christian, compounded with the sense that there is a need to justify Christianity to the secular magisterium (that is, philosophical rationality or scientific empiricism, or some combination thereof), Christians unwittingly relativize the authority of the Christian view to the authority of a higher court.

In the end, Christians will fail about both projects–Christianity will not be taken as authoritative because that position has already been granted to the secular magisterium in the decision made be Christians to argue following the magisterium’s rules and using its grammar; and the opportunity to claim Christianity as the Truth Objectively/Absolutely will fail for the same reason, that is, because those concepts are distinctly a part of the magisterium’s grammar, NOT Christianity’s.

In that last few posts, I’ve tried to situate where this argument comes from. In other words, I’ve tried to show how an uncritical commitment to foundationalism has driven Christians to argue for the existence of Absolute/Objective Truth. Christians simply assume we “must” argue this way. My argument is we need not feel so compelled.

As a viable alternative, I presented the idea of non-foundationalism, primarily through links to two well-written articles on the topic from the web–useful resources for Christians. Because non-foundationalism exists more as a “critique” of foundationalism (it tends to specifically reject the assumptions of foundationalism), non-foundationalism does not necessarily hold assumptions that have specific consequences.

For example, foundationalism assumes the existence of Absolute/Objective Truth and thus works toward the end of discovered indubitably “what” that Truth is. Non-foundationalism, on the other hand, rejects such a way of speaking as unnecessary and untenable, preferring to speak more of the provisionality of knowledge rather than certainty, of truths in the plural but not necessarily of truths that are equally valid or even necessarily in contradiction, etc. Non-foundationalism is thus not a “hard” or “strong” way of speaking, in a “last word” sort of way, as foundationalism is. This lack of specific consequences is frightening to some upon a first encounter with non-foundationalism. I will deal with this affective element in my next post.

As an alternative to foundationalism, non-foundationalism offers to Christians the ability to makes claims and the truthfulness of the Christian narrative while not borrowing from the grammar or submitting to the authority of the secular magisterium. Non-foundationalism allows Christians to more effectively critique other views while simultaneously (and importantly) being open to their voices so that conversations can proceed with care, understanding, learning, and humility. Later posts will offer examples of this kind of conversation and engagement.