Cheeky. I know. Most Christians like to operate on the WWJD premise. However, a favorite apologist of mine, Greg Koukl, would argue that in order to know what Jesus would do in any given situation, you’d have to know what Jesus did in history. He’s right. It seems a lot of the time we prefer to operate on slogans and emotional appeals to make our cases, rather than doing the hard work of being students of theology or history. I’ve decided since Jesus seems to be something of an enigma to a lot of people, including a lot of Christians, that using the motto WWHD can be a lot easier than WWJD. It turns out most folks over the age of 20, regardless of political or religious affiliation, have a pretty good grasp of what Hitler was all about (although it seems even this significantly more recent objective history is losing traction these days). After giving it some thought, I’ve decided Hitler can be used much more easily than Jesus to make some points. Sometimes rather than trying to convince somebody of who they should be like, it might be easier to convince them of who they shouldn’t be like. This seems to work best with people who generally subscribe to some sort of relativism.
I often hear people say things like, “I have my truth and you have your truth.” However, although we may have differing perspectives, there is only one truth to be sought. For example, Joe may say he thinks Mike is a hard worker, but Mary may say she thinks Mike is not a hard worker. Can it be true that Mike is both a hard worker and not a hard worker? I think not. It may be true that Joe thinks Mike is hard worker, and it may also be true that Mary thinks Mike is not a hard worker. These are just two opinions though, probably based on different experiences with Mike. Saying “Joe thinks” a thing, or “Mary thinks” a thing though, is vastly different from saying “Mike is” a thing. I can say, “Mike is a hard worker,” and there is an objective truth value to that statement that is independent of any observer. The logical law of non-contradiction makes it an impossibility that a statement can be both true and false at the same time. Mike is either a hard worker, or he is not a hard worker. You may need to flesh out context and what is meant by “hard worker”, but it is impossible that, in the same context, Mike both is a hard worker and is not a hard worker. Given an adequate definition, the objective truth of the statement “Mike is a hard worker” can be known. Further, in the absence of objective truth values, can we say that Hitler wasn’t justified in his actions? If multiple truths are possible, you can say it is your opinion that it was unfashionable for him to take such actions, but not that it was objectively wrong. You may think it was wrong, but that’s just your own version of the truth. Hitler’s truth was that he was improving the world, and his truth is every bit as valid as your truth. This is an untennable position if you ask me.
The other day I had another friend explain that we should just say that Monday is now Saturday and go home. He asserted this is mere social convention. We’re just nature and nature has no need of such social constructs. His claim, as I understood it, was that we can re-define any truth we want as we see fit by getting the majority to agree to it. There’s actually some truth to this as it pertains to labels, but while I can certainly appreciate his disdain for Mondays, it seems to me that the “Monday” being referred to is a certain kind of thing. Certainly we could take the thing “Monday” and call it “Saturday”, but if what we mean by “Monday” in this case is that it is the first day of the work week, then call it what you will, it is still the first day of the work week. Calling it something different doesn’t change the truth of the matter. I can call it “hamburger” if I want, but I still need to punch in at 8:00. Perception may be able to be overcome by appealing to popularity, but unfortunately truth cannot. Changing perception does not change the truth. Just ask any magician. Hitler changed perception by appealing to the ferocity of German nationalism. Simply changing popular public opinion though, never did change the true fact that handicapped and Jewish folks are people, and unjustly taking people’s lives is murder.
The next time you encounter someone who argues that something is true or permissible simply because different people have different truths, or because all truth is only defined by what is most popular, just ask them to consider carefully…WWHD?