Proclaiming 'Absolute Truth' Isn't Equivalent to Arrogance

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of The Christian Post or its editors.

Some unbelievers are humble. And some professing Christians are arrogant. The reverse is also true. It really boils down to what's in someone's heart, rather than how unequivocally a person proclaims his ideology.

We live in a strange time. Many people today, without really thinking through it, immediately assume that anyone who promotes "absolute truth" must be arrogant. But that simply isn't the case. Not by a long shot.

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Humble unbelievers don't view themselves as "better" than Christians, even though they may boldly profess their worldview to be the only correct one. Likewise, humble Christians don't view themselves as "better" than unbelievers, even though they are sure Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and the only means of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.

You see, pride is conceived in the heart. This is where a person gives birth to humility or arrogance. And typically, a person's words, tone and manner tend to reveal the attitude of their heart.

There are unbelievers who are angry and proud. And there are professing Christians who are angry and proud. The word "professing" is important here because genuine Christianity doesn't produce pride. Christ was not domineering, but rather humble and gentle. Unfortunately, not everyone wearing the name of Christ demonstrates the Savior's meekness and humility. If truth be told, some religious folks have never known the Lord, in spite of the "Christian" label they apply to themselves.

It is naive to assume that everyone who seems absolutely sure of his position must therefore be an arrogant person. Such a fallacy doesn't square with reality. In the real world, many devotees are completely convinced of their message, while at the same time seeing themselves as "no big deal."

Pride has to do with how I view myself relative to others. The strength of my convictions may give no indication whatsoever as to whether my heart is filled with pride, or with humility. It is a complete misconception to think that unshakable beliefs equate to snobbery, self-admiration, and egotism.

Those who wallow in pride tend to attract the most attention due to their offensive manner, and it is natural for us to then paint everyone in their tribe with a broad brush. After all, if a few folks in that group behave so haughtily, how could the rest of them be any different?

For example, since Judas betrayed Jesus, then all of Christ's disciples were planning to betray Him, right? Wrong. Even Peter, who denied the Lord three times, quickly repented of his cowardly behavior and became one of the Lord's most ardent and effective disciples. Judas was the only one of the twelve who viewed himself as better than others.

Regardless of ideology, there are bound to be a few bad apples in every bunch, right?

Imagine a well-known atheist today acting superior to Christians. Such an occurrence would by no means prove anything about the attitudes of other atheists. And the same is true of Christians.

On top of that, there are probably very few professing atheists who don't really believe what they claim to believe. But in the case of professing Christians, more than a handful lack the one essential requirement necessary to actually be in God's family; namely, a personal relationship with Jesus.

Arrogant atheists and arrogant religious folks are unbecoming. But humble people are approachable and amiable. Angry "Christians" tend to attract other angry "Christians." And angry atheists tend to attract other angry atheists. Birds of a feather get angry together.

It is interesting to note that the state of a person's heart can disqualify him from Christianity. In the Bible, Jesus spoke of certain religious folks whose hearts were far from Him. (see Matthew 15:8,9) This pride and hypocrisy disqualified them from being legitimate followers of God. But I am not sure the same can be said of professing atheists. I can't think of any "heart conditions" which would disqualify a professing atheist from actually being an atheist.

By the way, an atheist may be more humble than his agnostic neighbor, even though the atheist proclaims his view of absolute truth without reservation, while his neighbor puts forth various ideas about God with less dogmatism. Here again, proclaiming absolute truth isn't equivalent to arrogance. It comes down to the attitude of one's heart. The pride of man is no respecter of persons. But it is no match for the raw power of genuine humility.

I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that from a biblical perspective, any person who rejects God does so due to pride in his heart. And while that pride is just as real as the pride I am addressing in this article, it does not always result in feelings of superiority. In other words, there is the pride of man which leads him to reject God. And then there is the pride of man which leads him to feel superior to those who hold views different than his own. I am only addressing that secondary form of pride.

Angry atheists and angry "Christians" don't paint a pretty portrait of their team. Meanwhile, the only model in the New Testament for authentic Christianity is a life of humility and compassion. Feelings of superiority are never an appropriate attribute for a follower of Jesus Christ. And as for atheism, I suppose each atheist would have to subjectively determine whether or not feelings of superiority are appropriate for those within their fraternity.

So in summary, if you are a Christian, don't be afraid to present your convictions with absolute certainty. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God." (1 Peter 4:11) But remember. Proclaiming the absolute truth about Jesus is consistent with a life of meekness, rather than a life of arrogance and spiritual snobbery. Always resist any urge to feel superior. The only Person who is superior is the Creator of all men.

Anyone who is observant can come to discover that proclaiming absolute truth isn't equivalent to arrogance. In fact, quite often it is just the opposite.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.