I have lots of weird information in my brain that I don’t always know what to do with. For example, I was surprised to learn the other day that the Bosnian language has no word or ability to delineate the difference between fiction and non-fiction. The Bosnian writer Aleksandar Hemon states that “[In the Bosnian language] there are no words for fiction and nonfiction, or the distinction thereof. This is not to say that there is no truth or untruth,” he continues. “It’s just that a literary text is not defined by its relation to truth or imagination” (Lea, guardian.com).
Wow, that is so interesting. Truth, in a literary sense, is not defined by words or language, but by what the reader perceives when he engages the text. If taken to extremes, this means that authorial intent is not as important as the actual written words whose meaning is determined by the reader. Now I am not trying to be harsh or critical of the Bosnian language or the Bosnian people. I just want to make us aware of a trend in interpreting truth (fiction vs. non-fiction) that has been influencing our society for more than 50 years.
It is called Post-Structuralism (formerly known as deconstructionism). In this literary theory, the author is displaced as the ultimate authority of truth, and the reader plays the central role in determining meaning. Which basically means that language systems cannot be trusted to determine meaning, because people can find a great variety of meanings in the same words. All things become relative, the author of a text doesn’t really matter, and there is no such thing as absolute truth. So, if I have not already lost you, why is this knowledge in my brain, and why am I writing about it?
Christians believe that truth is revealed, not discovered by the individual. We don’t give God meaning, He determines meaning and reality by showing us who He is. The Bible is God’s primary method of revelation as guided and informed by the work of the Holy Spirit. And there is ultimate truth and it has a personal name which is Jesus Christ. And the teaching nuances of difficult to understand aspects of literary theory do affect our beliefs and practical lives. Just ask some of your family or friends if they believe there is such a thing as absolute truth? More than likely you will find that people believe truth is relative or at least determined by the individual in a particular situation. Or you might hear someone say that “Your truth is good for you, it is just not my truth.”
Anyway, don’t forget the words of Jesus in John 14:6 when He said,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
These ideas really matter in our world today, and I hope this helps you navigate our challenging social and cultural beliefs. Take care, have a good week, and trust in Jesus for everything.
Praying for you all,