Input: Die Zwei-Bereiche-Theorie der Wahrheit

Nancy Pearcey schreibt in ihrem Buch “Total Truth. Liberating Christianity from it’s Cultural Captivity” (S. 21-22), dass die postmoderne Sichtweise das Hauptmittel ist, die christliche Weltsicht aus dem öffentlichen Diskurs auszuschließen. Zunächst wird eine Unterscheidung zwischen “Tatsachenaussage” und “Aussagen persönlicher Wertung” eingeführt. Aussagen von Christen über ethische Dinge werden dann in der Öffentlichkeit oft als “Wert”-Aussagen abgetan, statt sie als “Tatsachenaussagen” zu bewerten und sich entsprechend auf eine Sachargumentation einzulassen.

“As [Francis] Schaeffer explains, the concept of truth itself has been divided – a process he illustrates with the imagery of a two-story building: In the lower story are science and reason, which are considered public truth, binding on everyone. Over against it is an upper story of noncognitive experience, which is the locus of personal meaning. This is the realm of private truth, where we hear people say, “That may be true for you but it’s not true for me.”

The Two-realm theory of truth:

Non-rational, Noncognitive.

Rational, Verifiable.

When Schaeffer was writing, the term POSTMODERNISM had not yet been coined, but clearly that is what he was talking about. Today we might say that in the lower story is modernism, which still claims to have universal, objective truth – while in the upper story is postmodernism.

Today’s two-story truth:

Subjective, Relative to Particular Groups.

Objective, Universally Valid.

The reason it’s so important for us to learn how to recognize this division is that it is the single most potent weapon for delegitimizing the biblical perspective in the public square today. Here’s how it works: Most secularists are too politically savvy to attack religion directly or to debunk it as false. So what do they do? They consign religion to the VALUE sphere – which takes it out of the realm of true and false altogether. Secularists can then assure us that of course they “respect” religion, while at the same time denying that it has any relevance to the public realm.
As Philip Johnson puts it, the fact/value split “allows the metaphysical naturalists to mollify the potentially troublesome religious people by assuring them that science does not rule out “religious belief” (so long as it does not pretend to be “knowledge”).” In other words, so long as everyone understands that it is merely a matter of private feelings. The two-story grid functions as a gatekeeper that defines what is to be taken seriously as genuine knowledge, and what can be dismissed as mere wish-fulfillment.

This same division also explains why Christian have such difficulty communicating in the public arena. It’s crucial for us to realize that nonbelievers are constantly filtering what we saay through a mental fact/value grid. For example, when we state a position on an issue like abortion or bioethics or homosexuality, WE intend to assert an objective moral truth important to the health of society – but THEY think we’re merely expressing our subjective bias. When we say there’s scientific evidence for design in the universe, WE intend to stake out a testable truth claim – but THEY say, “Uh oh, the Religious Right is making a political power grab”. The fact/value grid instantly dissolves away the objective content of anything we say, and we will not be successfull in introducing the CONTENT of our belief into the public discussion unless we first find ways to get past this gatekeeper.

That’s why Lesslie Newbigin warned that the divided concept of truth is the primary factor in “the cultural captivity of the gospel”. It traps Christianity in the upper story of privatized values, and prevents it from having any effect on public culture.”