(I just posted this at the blog of Kilns College, an exciting new venture with which I'm involved. I thought my readership here would appreciate it as well.)
The leadership of Kilns College is beginning to kick around what to include in a "Statement of Faith," which is a necessary sort of thing for a Christian college to have. Normally, such a statement would include our beliefs about God, Scripture, the human condition, salvation, and perhaps one or two other items.
But today, it seems, one cannot simply lay out what it is one believes to be the truth about such things. No, in our postmodern culture, one may first have to at least claim--if not actually go through the process of substantiating the claim--that there is such a thing as objective truth in the first place.
So, lest we put a good deal of effort into a corporate statement of faith only to have it viewed as a subjective exercise not meant to intersect with any absolute reality, I thought it best to establish up front that we at Kilns College hold to an objectivist view of truth. That is, with the vast majority of thinkers throughout the history of Western civilization, we hold that some statements (ideas or beliefs) are true and that others are false, that some correspond to reality and others do not.
As an example, we are likely to make a statement such as, "Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, died by Roman crucifixion and was bodily raised on the third day." By making this claim, we are not merely saying that this particular belief works for us or has more meaning for us than it does for other people. Rather, we would be claiming that this is a fundamental truth about Jesus Christ that matches reality at all times and for all people, regardless of whether or not they believe (agree with) it.
In this case, the truth value of the statement resides in Jesus--the object of the statement--and not in the claimant or anyone else considering the truth value (these latter would both be subjects). We reject a subjectivist understanding of truth and affirm an objectivist understanding.
The subjectivist, relativist understanding of truth espoused by postmodernists is ultimately self-referentially absurd. But rather than demonstrate that the way I normally would, let me come at it a different way, one appropriate to a school of higher education.
Just as relative morality makes nonsense of the concept of moral reform or moral improvement, a subjectivist view of truth makes unintelligible the concept of learning. If there is no truth--no accurate understanding of the way things are--then gathering more knowledge is pointless. You may continually change your understanding or the way you view things, but if there is no right understanding to which you have gotten closer, you might just as well be doing almost anything else.
Until a very short time ago, virtually everyone believed in objective truth, goodness, and beauty, and the goal of a liberal arts education was to raise up gentlemen and ladies by helping them align their thoughts, will, and emotions with that tuth, goodness, and beauty.
We at Kilns College still believe these things, and I hope that our statement of beliefs (when finished) will reflect this.