Contrary to what many have thought, the primary meaning of the word, “objective” in The Objective Believer, does not allude to being “fair” or “unbiased.”
While I, of course, try to be evenhanded in my content (who doesn’t?), there are more implications to the word, objective.
Vocabulary.com defines it as "based on observable phenomena."
Dictionary .com says that to be objective is to deal with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings.
Collins dictionary puts it this way:
"of or having to do with a known or perceived object as distinguished from something existing only in the mind of the subject, or person thinking."
The Objective Believer, then, is a description of this kind of external, fact-based analysis. I appeal to authorities that can actually be witnessed by an audience. The conclusions arrived at are observations anyone can make.
For example, pointing to actual statements in the Bible as opposed to claims about what one believes or thinks is implied in the, “context”.
Something you can see or hear.
Something more than just internal logic or reason.
In other words, things that can actually be shown to be true as opposed to merely argued as true.
Those familiar with the OB have heard me repeatedly use the term, “falsifiable.” That’s what this is. If a claim is falsifiable it means that it can be demonstrated as true or false through observation.
It’s the difference between----say---actually seeing a Bigfoot versus merely debating their existence. Sure, an argument based on third-party testimony, or alleged, “footprints” can be convincing and even possibly true, but if a tall, hairy, and bipedal hominid could actually be clearly observed by an audience, that would end the dispute.
The Thing About Debate
To clarify, I’m not saying arguing and reasoning for a certain position is not a valid way to arrive at truth. In fact, it’s often the only way. By engaging in a dialogue, using reason and logic, two opposing parties can end up agreeing on what the truth is even if it’s not outwardly demonstrable. However, there’s an elephant in the room when it comes to this method: not everybody thinks the same way. What seems reasonable to one person, may not seem reasonable to another. Likewise, what seems logical to you, may not seem logical to me. So even if we both were to agree that logic and reason are the standard, the problem is locating where the rules of that standard exist in an objective state and determining who possesses the jurisdiction for their use. As a result, what you often end up with when it comes to these sorts of claims are unending arguments with no clear, demonstrable winner because there is no clear, demonstrable authority to make that call.
Imagine playing a sport where there is no authority that decides the rules. Everybody is just going with their best judgment of what those rules are, or ought to be.
And here’s the thing: I know how to play that game too. Really, we all do. If the abundance of philosophy, religion, and denominations in the world has taught us anything, it’s that people from all walks of life can make an argument that is, on some level, logical and compelling. In fact, I often do this in my content just to demonstrate how easily it can be done.
Some still may not be sure what exactly I‘m talking about, so here are a couple of examples of accusations I’ve heard over the years that lack falsifiability:
“You’re twisting/taking that passage out of context!”
Who determines the parameters for such a claim? Is there a Bible verse one could provide that says “if a person says X about Y passage, then they are twisting Scripture”? Or “here’s how you know someone is taking a verse out of context: . . .”? If so, that would indeed be demonstrable. But if not----What am I supposed to do with it?
These are all constructs whose rules of qualification vary from one individual to another.
Don’t get me wrong, constructs are needed and we all use them. But they’re only beneficial for resolving conflict when all parties can agree on what they are.
To hearken back to the sports analogy: You can argue what you think the rules ought to be. But what if I don’t see it that way? Should I abandon my perception of the rules in favor of yours?
Why and based on whose authority?
So to clarify, I’m not saying that your accusation of twisting/taking scripture out of context is false. It may indeed be valid and true. But if all you have is an argument, and I listen and try to understand, yet still don’t agree—-there’s nothing to be done. I can’t do anything with your claim. It simply does not ring true for me, as it does for you.
“You lack basic understanding of proper hermeneutics”
Once again, with stuff like this—-how can it be demonstrated? Is there a Bible verse that states what “proper hermeneutics” is? If there isn’t, how can I test your claim? How do I know you’re not just upset because I said something you disagreed with?
There are a lot more examples of these sorts of accusations (with new ones arising almost daily)—-all of which share the same characteristic: appeals to a vague, or subjective standard of criteria that either cannot be pinpointed or cannot be observed and thus are untestable.
I seek out feedback on a regular basis. I want people to show me where I’m going wrong. But I need a clear pathway to that end. Copious amounts of accusations that lack a clear and authoritative standard to measure them against do little to no good.
So, to my critics:
I love you. I appreciate you taking the time to provide me with feedback. Am I going to ignore anything you say unless it’s falsifiable? Of course not. As I said, many times truth can be arrived at by other means. But after having these discussions for more than 20 years, chances are pretty good that I’ve already heard your argument. And now, I need something more.