Dr. Jeff Myers, the president of Summit Ministries, joins Dr. Mark Turman to discuss apologetics for Gen Z through Summit’s summer camps. They also consider the idea of worldviews, explain the philosophical nature of truth, and talk about his book, The Truth Changes Everything.
Dr. Jeff Myers begins by sharing his testimony and how he became president of Summit Ministries, which helps kids stand firm in a biblical worldview through camp and student conferences (5:44). Dr. Myers explains Summit and how they help prepare Gen Z for defending their faith and thinking critically. They also talk about pivotal life moments when faith becomes relevant (11:57). Dr. Myers talks about what a “worldview” is and what led him to write Truth Changes Everything (23:30). Armed with a PhD in philosophy, Dr. Myers provides a deep, philosophical understanding of truth (29:21). Dr. Turman asks why the Christian worldview is unique, given the incarnate person of Christ (47:36).
Resources and further reading:
- Truth Changes Everything: How People of Faith Can Transform the World in Times of Crisis, Jeff Myers
- Summit Ministries, website
- The Coming Tsunami, Jim Denison
About the host
Mark Turman, DMin, is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.
About the guest
Dr. Jeff Myers is the president of Summit Ministries. As an educator and entrepreneur, Dr. Myers has become one of America’s most respected authorities on youth leadership development.
Through his speaking engagements and media appearances, Dr. Myers has become a fresh voice offering humor and insight from a Christian worldview. He is the author of 14 books, including Understanding the Faith, Understanding the Times, and Understanding the Culture textbooks, which are studied by tens of thousands of students. Dr. Myers holds a Ph.D. from the University of Denver.
He continues to engage college students and adult learners by serving as a trustee of Colorado Christian University and through a Signature Leadership Course offered by the Lumerit Corporation, which serves the training needs of many Fortune 100 companies. Jeff and his wife Stephanie and their family live in Colorado.
Transcribed by Otter.ai
Mark Turman 00:11
You’re listening to the Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, Executive Director at Denison Forum. Thank you for joining us again, Dennis and forum exists to explain the culture to the church so the church can change the culture for the glory of God and good of others. That’s what we’re all about. And we’re going to sit down and have another conversation with a fellow thought leader and ministry leader that many of you may recognize. Today we’re welcoming Dr. Jeff Myers to the podcast. Jeff, welcome. We’re glad you’re here.
Jeff Myers 00:41
Mark. It’s great to be with you. I love the Denison forum, and what you and Jim are doing and your team there is incredible. I love that mission. So
Mark Turman 00:50
well. Thank you for that. Yeah, let me introduce you to our audience. If they happen to be not familiar, Jeff is the president of Summit ministries, based in Colorado. He’s an educator and an entrepreneur, and considered one of America’s most respected authorities, especially in the area of Youth Leadership Development. Dr. James Dobson founder focused on the family referred to him one time as a very gifted and inspirational leader. Some will also recognize the name of evangelist and apologist Josh McDowell, who said about Jeff, he is a man who is 100% sold out to preparing the next generation to reflect the care of character of Christ in our culture. Jeff is a speaker and author has written 14 books, one of which we’re going to discuss today, he holds a doctorate philosophy degree from the University of Denver, and also leads not only events, but also a signature leadership course. That’s called the signature leadership course, that is used by Fortune 100 companies, he and his wife Stephanie, live in Colorado. And Jeff, we were just coming in a moment and go, you just got back from a great trip to Israel in Italy, you got to tell our people a little bit at least one or two highlights of what that trip was like for you and your wife?
Jeff Myers 02:07
Well, you know, I had never been to Italy, and Stephanie had never been to Israel. So it was a chance for us to show each other some of our favorite places in the world. There were some real highlights and a one of them in Israel. It seems really, maybe this is unusual, because there’s so many great sights there. You’re seeing Jerusalem, you’re seeing the Temple Mount, you’re looking at the, you know, all of these incredible things of streets where Jesus walked. But perhaps the greatest moment for me, was being in the Negev desert. And we were on a long hike, we did a lot of hiking. And way out on the middle of the desert. Our guide said, a lot of people think that the desert is the empty place, the place where nothing is happening. He said in Scripture, the desert is God’s living room, the desert is where God speaks. And I looked around and thought I had to come to this most barren place in order to understand that those times in the desert are times where we we grow, where God is speaking directly to us. And that’s a hard thing to get used to. Because a life of comfort seems like it would be the life of blessing that God wants us to have. But in Scripture, it just isn’t the case God hangs out in the desert. And then it and of course in Italy, there are so many things to cease great works of art. But we had a really cool moment. On Christmas day, we went to an even song service. And we thought, oh boy, we better hurry and get there because it’s Christmas Day everything is going to be packed. Stephanie and I were the only two people there. Oh, wow. And we watched as a group of elderly nuns who had dedicated their lives to prayer, went up behind the altar and performed the service. And we realized we aren’t the audience. They have an audience of one that they’re singing and to and worshiping God and we just had this incredible privilege of listening to the beauty of their voices in this ancient church.
Mark Turman 04:11
Wow. So awesome. Yeah. And just man so great that the pandemic is behind us in a way that we can travel again, and that we can experience the world in so many different ways so much beauty, right and so much wonder. And, and yeah, and Israel, particularly I haven’t been to Italy, but having been to Israel a few times. And just the amazement that, you know, you can go from Desert to mountainous almost rainforests like experiences in just about two hours, right?
Jeff Myers 04:45
That’s right. Yeah. It’s a tiny country and it’s surrounded by people, countries that are not friendly. And you realize that while you were there, the internal conflict the difficulties that Jews have had Islam Pushing the homeland and what they believe is a fulfillment of scriptural prophecy. Right. But they, they are willing to fight for it too. And there’s some good lessons to be learned there. You know, Benjamin Netanyahu recently wrote an autobiography. And he’s been on a lot of major programs talking about, of course, he’s quite famous. One thing he says at the very end of the bookmark that I’ve really been mulling over, he said, I do believe what Martin Luther King said that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice, he said, but that arc is brittle. And it can be broken. The truth actually needs to be defended. It isn’t just Well, the truth will be obvious to everyone, therefore, we don’t have to do anything. Now we’ve always got to be making the case.
Mark Turman 05:44
Right. And that’s, yeah, that’s a great setup for what we’re going to talk about in a minute, right, which is truth. Ultimately, as you talk about in your book, Truth will went out. But in any particular season or era, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to apply. If we don’t right, understand it, defend it, speak it, and live it out. Right. It’s not going to happen. But before we get there, I wanted to just for the benefit of our listeners, okay, who is Jeff Meyers, beyond the resume that I read a little bit from? Where are you from? And tell us a little bit about your personal history, and also maybe a little bit about your spiritual journey, how you encountered Christ and some of the things that led to the trajectory of today’s conversation.
Jeff Myers 06:32
Well, all of those things fit together, including the work that I currently do with some ministries. So I was a I was a city kid, I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, the riots in the city of Detroit when I was a small child had destroyed the city. It really has never recovered, even 50 years later, however long it is, and and the fact that was so bad in the city of Detroit that the riots there caused as much death and destruction in that one city in one summer, as an all of the United States of America in the year 2020. Just to give you a sense of perspective. So it was a rough place to grow up, I was offered hard drugs for the first time at seven years of age, I watched a man who had died from a heroin overdose. I remember cowering under my bed at the sound of a gunshot in the street. And my parents who were from Kansas and Oklahoma, were they admitted there for jobs, hopefully to have a better life. Well, they quickly decided to move back. So at age 10, just about age 10. We moved from the frame Michigan to Great Bend, Kansas. And that is a that is a culture shock. I’ve got to tell you, it was a culture shock in terms of our church experience, actually two, because we went from a thriving Church of a couple 1000 people, lots of programs very exciting. To a little country church, very tiny, no youth programming. They started some while I was there, and I love to those people. But I was always that kid asking why, why? Why do we believe this? Is the one. The one mothers always think, Oh, why is he ever going to be quiet? Driving down the street? What do they believe at that church? Why don’t we believe that? What do they believe at that church? You know, just always asking those questions. I wanted to know why. And not everybody’s faith experience runs down those roads of asking hard apologetics questions, but mine did. And so when I didn’t find satisfactory answers, I, I determined in my heart that I would graduate from high school, and then just quietly leave church. And Mark, you know, because you guys look at statistics all of the time. It could be the experience of 70% of young adults. They just don’t get the plot, they just don’t see how what they’re doing in church has anything to do with the way they would live the rest of their lives. And it’s not that they found meaning someplace else. I mean, 75% of young adults say they don’t have a sense of purpose that gives them meaning in life. But they’re just pretty sure that the church is not going to help them with that. So I was one of those kids. My parents had heard about this program called summit ministries, started by Dr. David noble 1962 In Manitou Springs, Colorado, which is a little hippie town right at the foot of Pikes Peak right next to Colorado Springs. And they arranged for me to go, they said, This guy may be able to help you find some answers to your questions. So I just as soon as I met him, in fact, I just said to him, hey, look, I hope you have a lot of answers, because I have a lot of questions. That was bringing in that debate team kid, you know, I’m all ready to debate with this guy. And he just he he just changed the game. He said, Look at some of that. We aren’t afraid of questions. So you can feel free to ask whatever you want, and we’ll talk about it. Which is exactly what I needed to hear. Yeah, I didn’t realize at the time, I thought what I needed was some and he would just say, alright, write down all your questions, I will write down all of the answers done. Now you can go on with your life. Instead, he invited me into a journey of growing and learning, and asking questions and seeking answers and being alongside other people who were doing the same thing, changed the whole course of my life, I came to faith in Jesus through that summit ministries program, and stayed involved stayed in touch, doing all kinds of different things from speaking to the students in the program to ultimately being on the board. And then when David double retired, he asked me, this skeptical kid who had come in thinking that he was going to walk away from the church, to be the president of the ministry, and I’ve been doing that for 11 years now. So it involves a lot of speaking a lot of media, a lot of writing of tech worldview textbooks, really trying to go deep, as well as broad, lots of people can comment on, you know, one or two points on 100 different things. But at Summit, we we really wanted to go deep. So our core curriculum is in three 500 Page textbooks that that sort of outline, what is a biblical worldview? What is the conflict of worldviews that we see today? If a biblical worldview is true, what does that look like apply to all these different things in society? And then our students and our two week programs just like the one I attended, when I was a kid, they have the opportunity to meet major thought leaders, ask questions, get answers, walk alongside of them, learn, grow, and actually see the world in a different way. Lots of people have a camp feeling, you know, you feel different. When you go to camp, you feel close to the Lord. But those feelings, feelings are an uneven way of thinking. They’re, they’re a way of thinking, but it’s an uneven way of thinking. It’s more situational. But when you learn to see the world differently, then every single thing you see changes, your worldview, your perspective and can deepen it if you are focused on the truth.
Mark Turman 11:57
No. So tell us who your prototypical camp experience person is. Is that is that somebody that’s 15? Somebody that’s 25 somewhere? What’s the what’s the prototypical camper, if you will,
Jeff Myers 12:11
yeah, thanks Mark, the age range that we focus on as aged 16 to 22. We are mostly looking for young adults who are graduating high school and on their way to a college or university or trade school. They’re preparing somehow for their career. You know, you and George Barna, who’s a mutual friend you has has written extensively that a person’s worldview is pretty much in place by age 13, that what you believe at age 13 is pretty much what you’re going to go to your grave believing. But in which is true, but there are windows that open in the clouds of life. And those windows are things like, you know, midlife crisis, that’s a window that opens. Getting married, that’s a window that opens. Well, one of the biggest openings is when you’re graduating from a school, and you’re going on to the next step. So students at high end high school, even though they’ve been jaded, maybe they’ve been in the culture, they’re pretty skeptical of the claims. They don’t want Christianity to be untrue, because they don’t want their parents to be wrong. You know, they don’t. But they at the same time. They they’re not satisfied with answers like, well just have faith or, you know, tell me about those questions. Are you doubting because doubting is sin? And I’m not did that that kind of, you know, so that’s the student that we’re getting, a lot of them will come from a Christian tradition. Some students have no faith experience, some have. When I say walk away, and there are lots of different theological ways to interpret that, but they, they essentially have walked away from the church, they said, This is not a good place to get answers to life’s big questions.
Mark Turman 14:00
deconstruction being the new term we’re using around that right?
Jeff Myers 14:05
deconstructions a nicer way to say abandonment, you know, that I’m somehow going to turn my back or rebel on things, it’s much nicer to think it’s, it’s deconstructing, because that sounds like you’ve actually thought about it.
Mark Turman 14:24
Not always the case and not always the case. Yeah, and as a pastor, you know, hearing you talk about those windows really insightful, because there are those moments right not only those that you mentioned getting married, but you know as pastor used to say, you know, pay attention to when people have their first baby especially right when that first child shows up. All of a sudden you’re like, Okay, this is real, I have to be a grown up. Now. I’m responsible for this human being and then, you know, other passages that sometimes create those windows, a job change, job loss, particularly where men can be really Have a divorce. And obviously, when somebody that you love dies creates, oftentimes that kind of, of window as well. And those are unique moments. And both of us could testify, just as you did a moment ago that, hey, going into this experience, I would have agreed with Barnett 13. I thought I knew everything and it was gonna be this way, right? But then one of those windows opened up later in my high school experience as it’s kind of like what you’re talking about, you never know, something that you experienced between 13 and 23, could really turn out to be your life’s destiny and direction, right? You just, you don’t know how that might work out.
Jeff Myers 15:41
That’s the thing I love best about my job mark is that I get to see those kinds of transitions happen all of the time. And so
Mark Turman 15:51
yeah, yeah, tell us if somebody is one or has one of those students in that, in that, where would they find some administrators just give us the website address, so they’ll know where to connect to you. If if they’re sitting there driving down the road listening to us, and they’re like, Oh, God, I go check that out. Tell them where to check it out.
Jeff Myers 16:08
If you’re if you’re driving, this is hopefully pretty easy to remember, you remember that we’re talking about summit ministries. So it’s just Summit, su M M, I t.org. You can go there, find out about the conferences. The two week programs are open for registration, at the time that we’re recording this show. And they are taking place in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and in Lookout Mountain Georgia this summer. So there’ll be about 2000 students all together, who have the opportunity to take two weeks, and really take advantage of that window of opportunity that is opening in their lives as they get ready to go on to the next step. And the impact of the program is, is huge. George Barna has helped us study this, as well. He said you their peers, only 4% of them have a biblical worldview. But by the time they leave summit 85% have a biblical worldview. Wow. And he said, That’s pretty good. Yeah. But, but then we look at the students two years out, because we’re one of those organizations that if we’re making some big claims, people are spending $2,000 To, to send their child to this program, two weeks is a lot of time, especially after your senior year, finishes, and you’re, you’re moving on to the next step. That’s a big investment. So we look at the students one year, five years, 10 years out, and and it persists. The change they experience at Summit persists, because they’re learning to see the world from a biblical perspective. And they’re also learning that other worldviews are, have good people and make some good points. But they are ultimately counterfeits. And if you can identify the counterfeits know the real thing, and then know how to grow in your understanding and application of the real thing. Then you’ve really got a big advantage, not just spiritually and in church, but really in in everything and your career and your understanding of people. Your understanding of culture.
Mark Turman 18:06
No, no, absolutely. Yeah, and great, you know, great to be able to measure and track the effectiveness of what you’re doing, right. Because a lot of times in ministry, we we do things unto the Lord, right, and we just put the results in his hands. And we can’t always measure the results. But it’s good to be able to track some of that. So it’s about camp and, and speaking events. It’s also about curriculum, and it’s about books. But as we kind of turn our attention a little bit to your latest book, which is called Truth changes everything. Subtitle, how people of faith can transfer, transform the world in times of crisis, most recent book that you’ve written, but to kind of set up this conversation, Jeff, would just a lot of people hear the word biblical worldview, biblical worldview, and that, particularly in ministries like ours, and oftentimes now in some churches, you’ll see that conversation is getting even bigger. What do you mean, when you say biblical worldview? I know this putting you on the spot, but just kind of give us if you were doing your opening conversation with one of your camps coming up this summer? What do we mean by biblical worldview and other worldviews? What do you mean by that?
Jeff Myers 19:26
Mark, and when I start this with the students, I will put up a picture that looks like a frog sitting in a river. And then I’ll ask them, Do you see a frog? Yes. Do you see a horse? They all look at it. And some of them say, Oh, I think I do. I’d say tilt your head to the right. You can see that the picture of the frog is also a horse. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Yep. And I want them to understand that when you have an encounter with the truth What the evidence has been there all along, what you’ve failed to grasp are the patterns of truth. And so the worldview is a pattern of ideas, of beliefs of convictions of habits that help us make sense of God, the world and our relationship to God and the world. Success in any endeavor comes through understanding patterns. Folks who are listening to us right now may have played sports growing up, no sports team is successful unless they develop proper patterns of play, and then know how to detect the patterns of the opponent’s play and counteract those patterns. You can’t succeed in this sport, if you don’t do that, which you can’t really succeed in business. If you don’t do that. You got to look for the patterns that lead to success. And you’ve got to be able to avoid the patterns that would lead to failure. So that’s we use that word patterns a lot. And then we help students understand that a biblical worldview gives us a way of understanding the patterns from God’s Almighty perspective, which is a great advantage to human beings, because otherwise, we’re just stuck where we are like, I’m here. And I can only see what I can see when I turn my head, and that’s it. But if I can move above and get a higher perspective on something, then I have a real advantage. We call it the 30,000 foot view. But so trying, is that really what God offers Well, how would we know how do we know the Bible is true? How do we know Scripture is reliable? How do we know the Bible, Bible’s claims about spiritual things are true? Because the Bible makes all kinds of claims, and some of them are really weird that we would never believe these days. So that all if students are then all of those kinds of questions come up. But then we introduce the students to five counterfeit worldviews. And we’ll actually have a whole talk, for example, on Marxism, I’ll spend 90 minutes trying to make the case from a Marxist perspective about what a Marxist worldview says about the world. And then, once they are thinking, Oh, well, I don’t know how I’d ever respond to that. Then we say, okay, that’s the case you’re going to hear it’s going to be persuasive. It’s going to sound right, if you’ve ever had a bad day, or your boss was mad at you, and somebody says, Let’s overthrow all these oppressors and take all their wealth, and then everything would be better. You might say, yeah, today, yeah, it’s right. I like it. But then, look, what is a biblical worldview? How do we see it? And then, and so we’re not only understanding truth from a biblical perspective, but we’re also trying to understand the lies from biblical perspective. I want that because I want students whenever they see a video on tick tock, or they see a news report, or somebody in school says something about a current event, I want them to automatically begin to think, what’s a biblical perspective? How would I know the truth on that? How can I find out if I don’t know? And even though my friend is making some good points, and I love with them, how would I help them understand that ultimately, their view is based on false assumptions?
Mark Turman 23:20
Sounds like I heard one Christian father and leader who, who said that what he started doing with his children when they were, you know, preteen, and into their teen years, they would sit down to watch something on television be in a movie or a television program, and he would say, Okay, I want you to spot the lie, based on what he had been trying to instill in them, helping them to see patterns, both patterns of deception and patterns of truth. He wanted to see based on their understanding of biblical truth, can you spot the lie? That is inside this story, right? Because it may be based on that, or it may be based on the truth. And can you can you identify the pattern? Right, exactly. And so good. So you’ve, this is your 14th book, and has recently come out? What was it that that inspired this book, give us the context give us what what were you trying to solve for? Or what need was, was really burning in your heart and mind that said, Okay, I think I want to write a 14 book. What brought that about?
Jeff Myers 24:27
You know, my philosophy on writing books is, would you write it if you knew that no one would ever read it? Yes, that’s got to be the criteria. Because the process of writing a book is very difficult. There’s a lot of irritations. Winston Churchill said it starts out like it’s a mistress that you can pay attention to and by the end, you just want to kill the beast and fling it to the public. It but this book has a very personal story. I talk about truth the battle for truth. And sometimes it’s easy to grow weary thinking, Oh, here’s another battle, another battle that I need to be paying attention to. But if you think about all the big conflicts of our day, Democrat versus Republican, red state versus blue state, liberal versus conservative city versus rural, whatever those conflicts are posed as at the root of them all, is a question about the nature of truth. Does truth capital T, actually exist in a way that can be known by us or doesn’t it? All good civilizations start with the assumption that it does exist, and that it can be known by us, that’s not always easy. We have to debate about it, we have to dialogue, we have to see other people’s perspectives, we have to study hard. If a really mulling over, we have to run into some brick walls and realize that that’s probably not a good way to go. All of that’s part of the process of discovering truth. But lately, based on philosophies that have been developed at the university level, in the United States, largely in the last 50 years, people have come to believe something different, that you don’t seek the truth, you speak your truth, that truth doesn’t exist, or is at least not knowable by us in any objective sense. Instead, we socially construct truth through our life experiences, maybe through our cultural experiences, maybe through our traumas, but reality gets constructed. So we don’t seek the truth, we speak our truth. 75% of millennials have said in a survey, whatever is right for you, or whatever works best for you. Is the only truth. You can no.
Mark Turman 26:51
Yeah, it’s just it’s something I know your ministry and our ministry kind of overlap at this point, because our founder, Jim Dennison writes, and speaks about this on a regular basis. And even will if you if you are so inclined, and you probably are more inclined this way than I am, because you’re a philosopher trained in philosophy. You guys can take us way back to where this change actually emerged from people like Immanuel Kant, who had this idea in Germany that you can’t know anything in itself, you can only know your perception of it. And therefore there are, as you said, no objective truth, only your experience of it. And all the way to modern day and somebody like Oprah who says, Go live your truth, right? It’s not, it’s there’s no such either one of two things, either there’s no such thing as truth, capital T. Or if it does exist, you and I don’t have the ability to know it. So therefore, it’s irrelevant. So you just have to live truths that you’ve discovered that you think apply, and that work for you. Dr. Davidson wrote recently this week about how you know, America is very much a pragmatic society, in terms of its philosophy, does it work? That’s ultimately a lot of times what we want to know is, well, if it just works, if it works for you, then just go with it, right? Yes. But talk a little bit about how we seem to be a culture in many ways of hypocrites, where we say, on one hand, we’ll say we’ll follow the science because it is truth. And we had a lot of conversation, particularly through the pandemic about follow the science, follow the science, follow the science. And we would do that until something showed us that the science was wrong. But then we would revert it seems to be that we jump categories, we, we will say if it suits us well, there is such a thing as capital T truth. And particularly if you’re into scientism, and science is kind of like your religion, then you you may want to say there is something called Objective Truth, and and we can know it. But then if you jump over to a category, such as faith and belief in God and that kind of objective truth, and people say, oh, there’s no such thing as truth. You see that kind of hypocrisy going on.
Jeff Myers 29:21
I liked that. I liked that description of category jumping. Well, in this book, which I don’t think I mentioned the title, you will you did mention the title truth, it changes, everything changes. And that’s the name of the book if somebody wants to find out how we actually do this, because the most of the book is stories. If a biblical worldview was true, what does it look like lived out, and they just tell the story, story after story after story of Jesus followers who believed that Jesus is the truth. There’s something different about that, that they believe that truth exists, but it’s not just it’s not just a categorical imperative. It is not just a set of logical postulations it’s not a mathematical formula that models the universe. It is a person, it’s Jesus. That’s what made the difference. Truth changes everything when we realize that truth and relationship always intertwined together. But the category jumping that you’re talking about, I think, kind of goes back to how people who don’t if they’ve given up the idea that truth capital T exists, and now they’re settling for truths, small t truths. What do they do with that? Well, some people’s voice hasn’t been heard. They’ve had bad experiences, and they’ve never been able to articulate what happened to them in a way that will cause people want to want to be better. So you have people like Oprah saying, Speak your truth. And you’ve you know, you hear this all the time, speak your truth, man, you know, what they mean is give you, you know, people give your opinion, give it strongly. But what you’ve pointed out, that’s at the heart of this problem is that it isn’t about your courage to give your viewpoint in a world of competing ideas. It’s about the idea that dough truth is ultimately out there to be known. And all of a sudden, you have both you have this perspective, on truth. It’s both a cause and an effect of the problem itself. So so let’s just for science, for example, in science, you would, you would say, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. At sea level, that’s a fact. Nobody is going to respond to that by saying, well, that’s your opinion. You know, I’m going to put down to 14 on my test. I dare the teacher to grade? No, no, people don’t think that way. We know their historical facts. Okay, we have a calendar. We know how to agree that the calendar operates in such in such a way people have had different calendars during time. But according to our calendar, Martin Luther King was shot on April 4 1968. Once we understand the parameters, there’s no questioning that nobody would say, Oh, well, in your culture, that’s true. But in my culture, it’s different. We understand that there are historical facts. The question arises, are there moral facts? Can are okay, people say, Okay, fine, I understand that you say there are facts in all these different areas, even though it’s all a dispute, and science is not able to come to the truth, and all these different things are the moral facts. And I usually ask my students this, I said, Can you tell the difference between these two, two statements, statement A, it is good to care for abandoned puppies, statement B, it is good to torture abandoned puppies. And they’ll say, yeah, there’s a difference between those two statements. Well, how do you know if words mean whatever we want them to mean? If we’re speaking our own truth, then not only is torture a good thing, but we can’t ever know what it is, we would never know the difference of treating a puppy nicely, or torturing it. So there are moral facts as well. Now, once we establish all of that, then we can start to ask questions like, alright, what does that have to do with religious claims? You realize, oh, well, then what you’re saying is not all religious claims can be equally true in the same time, and in the same way? No, they cannot. That cannot be true, that the Christian, that the Christian idea of the soul existing, and the Buddhist idea that the soul is not existing, can be true in the same sense, either at the soul exist, or it doesn’t one or the other is wrong, when it comes to clearly articulated claims about the nature of the existence or non existence of the soul. So it was students at least you can kind of go deep into this a little bit and say, Well, you know, think about this, or what have you, what have you learned or what, you know, what do you say? What do your friends saying, when they’re experiencing the culture? Because the goal is not just to say, Wow, what a fascinating discussion. The goal is to realize, if you understand that we exist, we exist as persons, we know that we exist, we know that we exist as individuals, we know that we exist in a continuous way, if I, my arm falls off, I’m still Jeff, all my cells have been replaced multiple times during my lives. But I’m still I’m still Jeff, if we recognize that we have a continuous substance. And we recognize that we have mental states that we can consider us in relationship to other people, than all of those things, bear on the idea that there is a soul. We have minds. All of these things then enable us to think about the world in such a way to discover what’s really there. And there is a there there. That’s the message of Scripture. truth exists in any society that acknowledges that. It realizes that it’s through Jesus who is personal and came and read Excuse us, those are the ones who change the course of society. Every single time society says that it’s not true. We’ll make up our own truth. We’ll go our own way. Chaos results. This is the story of history. And now here we are living it out in our own time, we have a very significant choice to make.
Mark Turman 35:18
Yeah, so yeah, so many directions that my mind wants to go with this conversation. Obviously, this is, this is where philosophy starts to overlap with things like language and definition, right? The only way that we can ever have hope to live well together, is when we come to a common consensus. And that common consensus, at least in some way, must be built around language and an agreement about definitions, which really, let me ask you to take us a little bit further as a philosopher into how this all connects will map out for me, you’ve already done a little bit of it, but map it out a little bit further the connection between truth reality and things that we really do care about on a daily basis, such as justice, and what I’m what I might call just rightness, or goodness, how the how these things, this is where this matters, right? That the understanding of truth and the embracing of truth as something that’s objective by which we can build, hopefully a consensus around in our in our better moments. It it leads to an understanding of a shared reality, and really sets the platform for the pursuit of what we would call rightness or goodness, am I on the right
Jeff Myers 36:45
track? Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, I love. This is fun. For me, it’s kind of like you’re feeding bananas to a monkey. So these are so true that when we use the word truth, what we mean is what really exists. Truth is our description of reality. And so we would say reality exists. You we can map it out, we can’t see every aspect of it, our perspective is limited, our knowledge is limited. But we still would trust a map, if you have a good map. You don’t expect that map to give you reality in every single detail. Otherwise, the map would be as big as reality itself. But you do expect that it accurately describes the contours of what really exists. So that’s how philosophers approach truth. They don’t say that we can know truth exhaustively, but they do wonder whether we can know it truly. So how is it that we as human beings know well, human beings are different than all other creatures, and that we are meaning makers. We use words to to help us explain mental states that relate to the world in which we live. So if you use the example of justice, is justice, does justice actually exist? It is a word, does it bear any meaningful relationship to something that really exists in the real world? And I’m not talking about the real world, just physical. I mean, the real world, the physical, spiritual, mental, everything that exists. So in people think, oh, yeah, well, I know what’s unjust. All right, great. That’s a good clue. If you know something that is unjust, can you imagine what that situation would look like? If it were fixed? Then that is getting us closer to understanding what really exists? Don’t. And then I think what, what starts to break down is people say, well, words don’t bear any necessary relationship to reality. Words are just words. And reality is something else. We can’t ever really know it. Notice that ever, people who say you can’t really ever know reality are claiming to know that, okay, so they’re, they’re violating their own rule and trying to explain the situation. But we’re words are not the same thing as the things to which they refer. But words can bear a regular relationship, that if you understand what justice is, then people all in you explain it clearly. Then people all over the world can understand what you’re talking about translated their language, they get it, their experiences are different course. culturals, or cultures are different. But but we can understand there is a core there, that is true. Nobody ever says, well, just speak your justice man. Because if justice is something that I have, or that you have, or that’s different, like I’m not obligated to act justly toward you, because you know, you live in Texas, and I live in Colorado, so we’re better or whatever. I don’t have to do. If I have that perspective, then I’m misunderstanding what justice is all about. But you see, if you say that truth is whatever you want it to be, then you’re essentially saying Words like justice do not describe categories of meaning that exist independent of our ability to perceive them, that we eat outside, what is just
Mark Turman 40:09
right, which is where the foundation of just one example, right 200 years ago, a slave owner could say, This is my definition of justice. I’m treating these people that I’ve enslaved, I’m treating them justly, according to my understanding of justice, when the slave would certainly not have agreed with that, and many, many others. And ultimately, fortunately, many others brought about change, because they’re like, No, that’s not justice in terms of what’s just for every person. Right? And, and that’s where this i this sort of this idea, and Dr. Dennison often says this, that when someone says that they claim that there is no absolute truth, they are making an absolute truth claim, which has an undercurrent cutting their very argument, right. Yeah, that’s
Jeff Myers 40:59
right. Yeah. Yeah. So philosophers, they they call this essences they’re looking for the essence of something Is it is it is, so I see a sports car in the parking lot. And I describe it, am I really getting its essence? Well, yeah, you can, because it’s observable. In a way. It’s that is consistent, and regular, unless we’re deceiving ourselves. I mean, you might say, Every car is actually a four wheel drive pickup. I don’t care what you say. Then you’re deceiving yourself, you’re gonna always see a four wheel drive pickup, and whenever you look at anything, but if you’re willing to acknowledge what’s actually there, its essence can communicate something to you, which you then in turn can communicate to other people. So yes, so the people who fought against slavery said no, justice is not your perception of how you’re treating the people who are in your control. Justice is the idea that every human being is made in the image of God. And our founders said, and is doubt endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Mark Turman 42:13
And in government doesn’t. Yeah. And in that statement, they’re not, they’re not creating something. They’re describing something that they have observed.
Jeff Myers 42:21
There. That’s right. They’re acknowledged to keep, as a key
Mark Turman 42:24
point here, when you Everson is writing these words, he’s not inventing something he’s describing something, which is why they’re called inalienable rights is that he’s observing something he and the fathers are observing something that they’re trying to give description too much like you’re saying, if we have a common understanding a common parameters about what vehicles are, and that there are different kinds of vehicles, then we have a platform by which we can describe what a four wheeled truck looks like versus a sports car. So we right, so Okay, so yeah, so let me move on. Let me move the conversation a little bit more. The whole book that you wrote, really stands on this idea that Jesus is truth in our culture, maybe in other cultures as well, but in our culture, if people will agree or concede that, okay, we believe that God is real. The thing we most like to wave the flag about is that God is love. Jesus is love. God is love. The Bible says that very clearly that God is love. But the conversation usually gets more difficult if you say that Jesus is truth. He doesn’t just speak truth. He is truth. So from from the standpoint of what you’re trying to communicate in this book, unpack that, and what you really want people to understand through this book, when you’re when you’re saying that Jesus isn’t just simply a source of truth or a speaker of TRUTH, He is the embodiment or to use your word a minute ago, the essence of truth. What do you what are you trying to get foundationally put into the hearts and minds of people by that statement?
Jeff Myers 44:07
Well, John 832 is a good example. John 14, six, Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father. But through me, that’s
Mark Turman 44:16
the most contentious, the most contentious verse in Scripture in our culture today, right
Jeff Myers 44:22
in people don’t say it’s not true. In other words, I’ll make 10 arguments as to why that statement is false. They say it’s an it’s a claim to exclusivity, and therefore by definition, it’s untrue. That’s how they process it, because we’ve lost any concept of how we might actually evaluate claims. But let’s go to John 832. Jesus said, If you follow my teaching, you will know the truth, the truth will set you free. The word truth in Greek is the word LFA. It means reality. People will tell you in psychology, no one can have social relationships with another person where they are in tune. with one another attunement is the term that’s often used, unless they have a common shared understanding of reality. Amscot pack in the 1970s, the psychiatrist said, you can never overcome addiction or mental health issues, until you grapple with reality as it actually is. The same thing is true in politics. You know, different people say this, it sounds harsh facts don’t really care about your feelings. In science, it’s the same thing. Science is the pursuit of failure for the sake of advancing knowledge. It shouldn’t surprise us that 90 or 80, almost 90% of studies that are done to for various drugs cannot be replicated by outside laboratories. It’s it’s just failure all of the time. But it’s all in the pursuit of some knowledge that could be bring blessing. So when we say that Jesus is the truth, what we’re saying is, there is a human way for us to, to come to an understanding of reality, not in a brutal fashion, but walking alongside in a personal way. And the evidence, some of the evidence for it. And that’s what this is, the whole point behind the book, truth changes everything is that Jesus followers through history and science, in the arts, in education, history, and law and politics, even in how we work comes back to the biblical truth that Jesus was bringing to us in human form. I mean, even the fact that we have a seven day week, a month, that’s a cycle that exists in nature, a year that’s a cycle that exists in nature, a day that’s a cycle that exists in nature, a week that exists in the mind of God. Abraham, Joshua Heschel, the Jewish thinker, said, that’s something that God invented, for the purpose of giving us rest and perspective. The whole way we work even, is the legacy of Jesus followers, and I just want people to hear read these stories, get encouraged, get renewed, and their own sense that my life personally means something here, my ability to ask questions and walk alongside other people, along with Jesus, is what’s going to not only bring great satisfaction to me, but actual change in the world, that so desperately in need
Mark Turman 47:36
of it? Yeah, yeah, I want you to chase this out a little bit further, we got just a few more minutes. But just this idea, the uniqueness of Christianity in the person of Jesus, and in the picture of this Trinitarian God, who is one yet revealed is three, just the idea, the uniqueness in Christianity, that truth is personal, in terms of its personal through our knowledge of God in the person of Christ. And then we’ll get to the stories in a minute, because that seems to me to be an aspect of this as well. But talk about that as the unique worldview of Christianity, that truth comes to us not in this clinical box, but it comes to us in the person of who God is in the person of Jesus. Why is that so important? Why is it so distinct in terms of Christian belief,
Jeff Myers 48:35
no market, if you can just stay on John one, if we can just get to John chapter one. All of this can start to make sense. So the Greeks had this word that they used logos, it meant the obviousness of reality. When you’re going along the road, is the road wet or is it dry? Well, we can look at it we understand what wet and dry mean we can make a decision about it. And we the obviousness of it becomes clear, they use that term logos, it means to express a thought, Well, John amped this up, in John, one, one, in the beginning was the word logos, he’s using that Greek word logos, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning, all things were created through Him. Apart from him, not one thing was created that was created. And a little bit later he said, the word logos became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we observed His glory. And it’s so much better than just getting a word from God. And you know, like, there are a lot of religious traditions that say, an angel came down and dictated this. But John says, We have received grace upon grace from his fullness, because he said, he said, For the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. And having in truth walk with you is so much better than just having it dictated to you.
Mark Turman 50:08
Yeah. And the rest of that verse in JAMA 14, right, we’d be held as glory full of grace and truth full of love and truth. Right? And then you have to have both. And you get both through this relationship of faith in God in Jesus, right? And that, that that’s a wholly different experience than something that just a set of principles or a set of propositions that are put in front of us in some kind of a academic or law type fashion, right?
Jeff Myers 50:44
That’s exactly right. Yep. Yep. So my, my goal in writing the book, truth changes, everything was just to get, I wanted people to just buy a bunch of copies, give it to their friends say, Let’s get together every week. Let’s talk about it. Each chapter relates to something that somebody in the groups get to know about, you know, whenever I have groups, I’ll almost always have a scientist, almost always have a lawyer. I’m a guy who I’m willing to hang out. Yeah, I almost always have somebody who’s running a business, somebody who’s in medicine. So you’ll get together and read those chapters and ask the question, alright, if this these Jesus followers in the past live this way, and we can live based on this, what would that look like? Today? That’s the discussion. I want to open up among women and men of faith, who, who recognize there’s something seriously wrong with our country, it’s really hard sometimes to put your finger on exactly what it is. But if we understand that Jesus is the truth, all of a sudden, we can take times of crises and do the same thing that these great Jesus followers in the past did turn them in to times of the greatest blessing and flourishing.
Mark Turman 51:58
Yeah, I think that’s Jeff, I think that’s one of the uniquenesses of this book, you know, I read in this in this same kind of genre a lot. We write in this genre a lot. But one thing that is unique about this book is, is how you basically present multiple different expressions, most of the book, as you said, a moment ago, of people who took this understanding and this reality of faith and relationship with Jesus seriously. And they, and they based everything that they were going to be about in their lives upon it. And a couple of things come out of that one is it, it is completely the opposite of what Dr. Denison and others talk about so much where we separate the sacred from the secular. And we try to, we kind of try to compartmentalize our faith, if we have any at all, we try to compartmentalize it as this, this one little box that we take out and play with for a little while, then we put it out and go about the rest of our lives. These stories taken from education, and medicine, and politics, and art. All of these different amazing stories that you’ve researched and unpacked, are about people who don’t, they don’t live by that idea at all. Everything is sacred in through and with their relationship with God. And they’re like, Hey, God raised me up to be a scientist, God raised me up to be a doctor, God raised me up to be an educator or a businessman or a politician, how do I honor God in the context of the environment that he’s put me in? Right? And then the other thing that kind of comes out of it is it it starts to demonstrate all of the goodness of God that he has poured out through Christians, as they have sought to serve Him in these environments? It? I haven’t read all the chapters, but that’s what I’m getting out of those stories. Yeah. And it’s, it’s, it’s like, an addition to an addition to Hebrews 11, and the what we call the Hall of Faith in Scripture, where all of these people are mentioned, and how they live their lives holy by faith and fought for Christ. And God used them in amazing ways. Right? And, and God demonstrated His glory through them through his people through the church. And this is kind of an updated version of that. Yeah. And that’s right. Am I describing it? Well, yeah,
Jeff Myers 54:31
you’ve got it. Yeah. Because there were people in all these areas who are just like us, quirky, fearful, uncertain, determined, at the same time. Wondering what are places in the cosmos? If this arc of history has to be protected and defended? It’s not my responsibility, and if so, how, and what do I do? Do I do that by jumping into other people’s categories, you know, giving money to this or that or All of these things are part of it volunteering time. Americans are brilliant at this. In fact, I would say, probably close to a quarter of our economy is people doing that. But what’s more, what do we do? What? How do we think differently about the world? And that’s where it’s fun to look at the stories of those great world changers.
Mark Turman 55:22
Yeah, super inspiring, you know, so inspiring and really an expression of what we sometimes talk about at Denison forum, we were very much shaped by a book called to change the world by James Davis and hunter. He says, you know, ask God to give you whatever level of influence that he wants you to have in his world during your time and live faithfully there. That’s right. And if you’ll do that, you’ll manifest faithful presence, and God will do amazing things with and through you. Guys. The book is truth changes everything by Dr. Jeff Meyers. Jeff, thanks for the conversation today. We hope that the book does well. Many people are going to be blessed by it. We hope that people know more about you, but more even so about summit ministries and a way to engage in those opportunities as well. summit.org Correct.
Jeff Myers 56:16
That’s right. Yeah. We’d love to help the young people that you know, in love, we always have to be thinking of our generation and there’s so we can pass the baton to them. Thanks so much for your time, Mark.
Mark Turman 56:25
Jeff, thanks for being a part of our conversation. And thank you for being a part of the Denison Forum Podcast. If you like what you heard today, we pray that you would share it with others. Please rate review us on your podcast platform that will help others to find our show. And we thank you for being a part of this time. God bless you. We’ll see you next time on the Denison Forum Podcast.