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When Truth Becomes Relative

Have you ever been to a restaurant that was once your favorite place to eat, but it wasn't the same after falling into new ownership? Sometimes, you can walk in and tell an immediate difference. The culture has changed, items have been added or removed from the menu, or the kitchen staff has left with the change in ownership. The result of the changes can often close the doors of the establishment. The same is true regarding the church. Not all changes are bad, but when it changes the doctrine or what the church represents, this has signaled that the church is under new ownership. In today’s culture among young adults and youth, postmodern criticism has influenced the church so that the ownership of their churches is no longer Jesus Christ. Reader response and deconstruction theory have been accepted because if you cannot change the position of the Bible, then you have to change the interpretation of the Bible. This essay aims to reveal the dangers of such positions.    


Reader Response and Its Error


Reader response is the position of the reader having the authority of the meaning of the text. Meaning and application formulate our beliefs and are the foundation on which we build. If we can change some of the ingredients to fit our desires, then we can construct a new identity and draw others to this understanding. This approach to interpretation draws from our previous experiences, biases, and our own cultural beliefs instead of the author’s intent. When the meaning of the text is removed from the author, new and conflicting understandings inevitably arise. When we live after the world, we live in God’s judgment; the only way to remove this is to devalue the truth or change the meaning; this is called reader response and removes the truth,     thus sin.       


The Bible states in Romans 8:13, “13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”[1]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 8:13.


Pastor Benaiah Snider


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