The devil, though his fall from grace was rooted in pride, knows how to use humility. Being craftier than the other beasts, he knows how to use nigh unto all things to bring about his nefarious purposes. He is resourceful and overlooks nothing.
Satan’s first attack upon man was to deny the very truthfulness of God, first casting doubt upon the word of God—“ ‘Has God indeed said …’ ”—and finally claiming that God had spoken falsely—“ ‘You will not surely die.’ ” Much later, as Western culture began to lose its moorings in the revealed Word of God, as enlightenment positivism posited itself as the arbiter of truth, that same strategy continued. God says we were made from the dust of the earth. The devil says we descend from a single-celled chef’s surprise that popped out of the primordial soup.
This strategy of the devil’s began to fall apart as it became painfully obvious that his truth claims didn’t hold any water. His wisdom showed itself to be foolishness. But he did not give up. Now, instead of holding up his version of truth as a competitor for God’s version, the devil has determined to assault truth as an idea. Instead of offering an alternative vision of reality and pridefully proclaiming that his is true and God’s is false, he humbly denies that his vision of truth is true and pridefully says that God’s vision of truth isn’t true either.
This is how our culture has moved from modernism to post-modernism, from the conviction that truth comes only through the application of our senses and minds to external reality, while God is silent, to the conviction that truth is not real, that we each create our own truth, and all we can know is that which we create.
On the surface, it looks like a bad deal. What could a culture gain by giving up truth? It gains the facade of peace, and with it the facade of humility.
Wars, both literal and figurative, are fought over competing truth claims. Whether it is two small children fussing back and forth—“Did not!” “Did too!”—or nations bombing each other over a truth claim that a piece of real estate is theirs, we find ourselves disagreeing. With only ourselves to serve as the final arbiters, with no transcendent source of infallible truth, we settle our arguments through battle. How much better if my daughter Darby says to my son Campbell, “To me, you shoved me,” and he replies, “To me, I did not shove you,” and they agree to disagree. How much better if the Germans says to the Poles, “To us, that region belongs to us,” and they reply, “To us, it belongs to us.” Children and nations alike then pat themselves on their collective backs for their humility. No one is making an exclusive claim to the truth. No one has the arrogance to suggest he or she has cornered the market on truth, that the other is wrong. And as both sides agree to disagree, swords are beaten into plowshares.