Jim Denison is the Founder and CEO of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture. He’s a Senior Fellow with the Twenty-First Century Wilberforce Initiative, who are our great friends, as well. He’s a Senior Fellow for Global Studies at Dallas Baptist University, where he leads the Institute for Global Engagement. Jim joined us on Monday to talk about the issues we are all facing right now in the culture.
Carmen: Let’s talk about truth and culture. This is your area of passion and expertise, so I know you’ve got a new book that addresses seven of the challenging issues that Christians need to be thinking through, as we impact the culture. Issues including immigration, and ISIS, and religious liberty, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, transgenderism, and so it occurs to me that as we’re addressing issues, we’re always dealing with real soulish people, and so can we talk about that first? Can we talk about how the Christian approach to issues is different, because we want to be approaching issues in a way that honors Jesus?
Jim Denison: Carmen, that’s exactly right. Jesus died for every person that we’re caring about in these conversations. As you and I know, the point is not to win a debate. The point is not to persuade somebody necessarily to a certain point of view. The point is to be used by the Holy Spirit to draw people to Jesus, and that’s why the Bible in Ephesians 4, makes it so clear that we are to speak the truth in love. That we’re certainly to know what we believe, but we’re to share God’s word and God’s truth in a way that is positive, that is encouraging, and demonstrates the Spirit of Jesus, and the grace of Christ, in everything we do, and if we don’t do that, we can absolutely win a battle, and lose a war, and it’s the eternal soul that is what matters most. That’s why what you do is important, and that’s why what we’re trying to do is being used by the Holy Spirit, as well.
Carmen: Jim, so you’ve been at this a while, so you know that the issues that we’re facing are kind of the natural fruit of a culture that’s been incubating and cultivating perverse ideas and attitudes for a really long time, so, I mean, the Bible might call it an act of suppression of the truth, but what do you see as like the root causes of the challenges that we face today?
Jim Denison: Carmen, that is the most perceptive question. That’s exactly the foundational issue that we need to be talking about, because everything in the book, and all the cultural issues we’re so concerned, and should be, about today, are really symptoms of a much larger trajectory that started some time ago. I have a Doctorate in Philosophy, and have taught Philosophy over the years, and I’ll not impose it on your listeners here very long, but let me, for just a moment, kind of take us through a very brief story. Back in the Seventeenth Century, there was this Philosopher named Rene Descartes, who decided the truth is the unaided use of the mind. Well, that begat a kind of thing in England known as Empiricism, where truth is known through the senses.
Well, that got synchronized, and put together by a fellow named Immanuel Kant, who said, “Truth is how your mind interprets your senses.” That sounds simple to us, but we’re wondering why any of that matters? Well, you might not have said that before Immanuel Kant, but here’s the downside, and this is what gets to your question, if that’s true, the truth is how my mind interprets my senses. Well, my mind is different from yours, and my senses are different from yours. There can, therefore, be no such thing as absolute truth. There’s just your truth, and my truth. Well, that idea swept Europe. It turned cathedrals basically into museums.