Duane Litfin writes that the slogan “All truth is God’s truth” became popular because it “encapsulated a set of convictions that are vital for the Christian’s intellectual task. These ideas lie embedded in the sloan as entailments, necessary implications. To embrace the slogan was to embrace these implications. My purpose here is to surface these entailments so that, even if we may allow an overworked catchphrase to rest in peace, we will not lose the truths it was designed to express.”
Here is his outline:
- God exists. (“This is the most basic idea of all. It is the foundation for all that a Christian can know.”)
- Through the agency of his Son, God created the universe and all that is in it.
- We can therefore entertain an intellectual construct called “reality.” (Reality = “things as God knows them to be.” “While a God-centered definition of reality does not by itself grant us access to that reality . . . it is nonetheless what makes it possible to talk about reality in the first place.”)
- This reality is complex and multi-dimensional. (“The cosmos God created . . . has physical, spiritual, and moral dimensions to it, but each dimension is fully real because its reality is anchored in the fact that it is part of what God knows to be the case.”)
- This reality, though complex and multi-dimensional, is also coherent and unified, centered upon the person of Jesus Christ. (“When [the universe] is properly understood, as by God himself, Jesus Christ is seen to be the Source, the Sustainer, and the Goal of all created things.”)
- God has created humans with the capacity to apprehend, however fallibly and incompletely, this reality.
- Genuine knowledge is therefore feasible for humans. [“. . . in some ways, humans are able to some extent, to know and describe some dimensions of the reality God knows.” Jonathan Edwards: true knowledge consists of the “agreement of our ideas with the ideas of God.” ]
- Human knowledge of reality stems from two prime sources: special revelation and discovery. (“Humans can come to know that something is the case because God has told them by special revelation it is so . . . ; or they can know something is the case by discovering it for themselves—that is, by applying their God-given capacity for apprehension to those dimensions of the created order that are available to them.”
- We can therefore maintain a distinction between truth and error. (“. . . in the end, some version of a representational theory of language and or a correspondence theory of truth must remain in play if we are to conceive of truth in a fully biblical way.”)
- All that is truthful, from whatever source, is unified, and will cohere with whatever else is truthful. (“Because God’s reality is unified and coherent, centered as it is on the person of Christ, all truthful apprehensions of that reality, or truthful expressions of those apprehensions, will cohere and contribute to an integrated, unified, Christ-centered vision of all things.”
—Duane Litfin, Conceiving the Christian College (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 86-95.