Beyond the irony that this recent "Star Wars" statement is an absolute while condemning the use of them, the statement is a powerful wake up call for those of us who believe strongly in the truth of Scripture. Over the last several decades, we've seen absolutes assumed to be steadfast truth, held up as something to be distrusted, proclaimed as something irrelevant, and now targeted as something that is a trademark of evil. Welcome to the new world of post modernism, or at least to a taste of the bad side of it. But, this is not another of those "the sky is falling" articles that bashes the new emerging era in culture: it is quite the opposite!
Rather than wringing our hands over the distrust of absolute truth, let's return to Scripture itself and notice that Jesus himself challenged the absolutes of his era. He also challenged future eras to redefine absolutes in a totally different way. In taking seriously Jesus' revolutionary challenge of absolutes in his day, I believe we will find a far better way to help millennials — the emerging new generation that heralds a whole new epoch in human culture — hear the voice of God in Scripture.
"You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you this eternal life." (John 5:39-40 NLT)
Jesus' words are nothing short of blasphemy to those who had given their lives to learning, quoting, applying, debating, and redefining the Scriptures for their own day. Yet Jesus dares to say that no absolute of Scripture takes precedence over him. Instead, Jesus — along with key witnesses of the New Testament — powerfully assert that the Scriptures all point to him and find their meaning and application in him.
Jesus goes further in the Sermon on the Mount when he repeatedly trumps his contemporaries' understandings of the absolute truth found in the Torah. He repeatedly declares, "You have heard that the law of Moses says ... But I say to you ..." (See the repeated statement in various forms in Matthew 5:21-22; Matthew 5:27-28; Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 5:33-34; Matthew 5:38-39; Matthew 5:43-44.) Not only do the Scriptures point to him, and not only does Jesus reinterpret the meaning of the Scriptures, he goes so far as to say that he is the very fulfillment of the Scriptures. (Matthew 5:17) He is claiming to be the one absolute through whom truth is determined, declared, and defined.
The rest of the New Testament is alive with this understanding. The radical nature of each claim must not be underestimated. (See John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Galatians 3:24-29; 2 Timothy 3:15 for example.) These statements by Jesus, and about Jesus, go so far as to claim that he is God's one true message. (John 1:1-18; Notice especially John 1:14 and John 1:18.) He is God's ultimate way of communicating truth: rather than giving a law, revealing an oracle, or declaring a prophecy, truth becomes real in human skin and displays itself in real mortal life. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
For those of us reared in the exclusive — and often reductionistic — either/or thinking of modernism, there seems to be a conflict with our understanding of Scripture in declaring that there are no absolutes. In Jesus, however, we are given a way of affirming this tidal change in perspective and putting it into a redemptive and biblical context.
Rather than giving up hope for future generations to have faith, let's awaken to the reality that what this emerging culture seeks is found in the One who first championed their reticence about previous generations understanding of truth. He is the truth they seek; so let's embrace a search to find him true in our lifestyles, our religious passions, and in our life with others. After all, our concern for absolutes shouldn't have us concerned about what will happen to our little group. Instead, we want people to find their way to Jesus and let him be their absolute, their truth, and their Lord and God. (cf. John 14:6; John 18:37; John 20:26-29)
John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn't one of our group.""Don't stop him!" Jesus said. "No one who performs miracles in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I assure you, that person will be rewarded." (Mark 9:38-40 NLT)