On Meaning  | On Meaning 
In the previous two posts I have been trying to set out why I still hold to a position that absolute truth exists. The discussion began as a meditation on meaning and language, and I’ve tried to make the connection between these and truth.
I ended the last post by positing that an extreme relativist position leads to difficult corners where it is impossible to make sensible statements about right and wrong, and thus leads us into moral difficulties. But also that, even though I believed in absolute truth, because the only way we can exchange ideas/thoughts in the public domain is through the porous and ever-negotiable means of language, I didn’t expect to be able to explain fully why. It boils back down to the faith/doubt axes.
To explain further: while I believe absolute truth exists, I don’t believe that any one person or group of people have full access to that truth.
I think this has 2 major implications:
Firstly, because absolute truth exists, justice and hope are possible. ‘The Other’ is part of the equation, and we journey, in faith, in a Universe that is not sealed.
Secondly, because the whole of absolute truth is inaccessible to one group or person, we are forced into humble interdependence. We seek to journey together and learn from one another.
This, I think, dissolves the ‘tyranny of absolute power’ argument. The problem with a view of accessible absolutism is that groups or individuals can claim divine authority and make life hell for people. With an inaccessible absolutism, this is not possible.
This brings me on to some thoughts I have been having recently about the connection between truth-views and stages of faith. It seems to me that there is a parallel here. At ‘Stage 3’ – typified as the ‘evangelical’ stage – authorities are externalized. ‘I believe this because my pastor teaches it / the Bible says so.’ I think this in analogous to the ‘accessible absolutism’ phase of truth. At ‘Stage 4’ – perhaps best typified by the classic ‘alt.worship’ stage – authorities are fully internalized. Everything is questioned and doubted, and, because ‘I believe this at the moment because I feel it to be true’, it is perhaps analogous to the relativistic stage. At ‘Stage 5’ – which I have argued is where the Emerging Church needs to be heading, there is a ‘conjunctive’ view. Things can be viewed from multiple perspectives. And it as this stage that I am thinking that an inaccessible absolutism comes in.
Pushing the boundaries of this beyond church, I feel that the rise of postmodern thinking – which has drawn heavily on the relativist position – is a natural and healthy reaction against the Stage 3 modernist/absolutist world of empires / the enlightenment / hard science. But it has, and I think we see this more and more in our culture, proved to be ultimately dissatisfying to people. And I sense people are yearning to go beyond that – not back to the restrictive comforts of accessible absolutism – but onwards to a more mature inaccessible absolutism. Where we can happily admit that truth exists, that right and wrong exist, but that the truth is ‘stranger than it used to be’, and that answers will depend on interaction, not just pronouncement or introspection and that the restrictions of language will always mean we fall short of fully understanding. But that that is OK.