True for you, but not for me?
We’ve all been in conversations where we are passionately debating an issue with someone, and suddenly, they make a claim that seems to stop us in our tracks. We don’t even know how to begin to respond. This month’s question is related to one of those claims that is often very challenging for Christians to properly address: What is true for you is not necessarily true for me.
If you were discussing the best toppings for a pizza, someone might understandably say that even though you think cheese and sausage are the best, that’s not true for them, because they like just about everything on their pizza… pepperoni, mushrooms, anchovies, onions, black olives, etc. You might be repulsed by some of their topping choices (anchovies – yuk!), but you certainly would not seriously tell them they were wrong about their preferences. After all, that’s what they actually like.
This type of discussion involves what is commonly known as “subjective” reasoning. It focuses mainly on the person (or “subject”) who is making the statement and offering an opinion that is neither right nor wrong. In these situations, you generally don’t feel compelled to attempt to change the person’s mind about the matter at hand.
On the other hand, if someone claimed a typical large cheese and sausage pizza weighs more than a 100-story skyscraper, you are dealing with much more than someone’s subjective opinion. Although someone (for whatever unknown reason) might actually believe this very odd claim to be true, now there are objective ways to analyze it. And in fact, a correct answer does exist. In this case, we are dealing with “objective” reasoning, which focuses on the actual facts regarding the “object(s)” being discussed, as opposed to the subjective opinion of the person making the claim.
For example, if you say, “Cheese and sausage is the best tasting pizza,” and someone else responds by saying, “That may be true for you, but not for me,” that is perfectly acceptable and rational because it is their own opinion. However, if you say, “Skyscrapers are heavier than pizza,” and someone else says, “That may be true for you, but not for me,” that is completely illogical and irrational because the objective facts tell a different story.
Let’s examine a more realistic and practical situation. You make the claim that the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the only way to heaven, and another person responds by saying, “That may be true for you, but not for me.” This scenario is a common occurrence and often poses a challenge for many Christians.
How should you respond to a claim such as this one: What is true for you isn’t necessarily true for me. Keep in mind, it is often more effective to reply with a follow-up question than to become defensive and launch into an in-depth response. One seemingly odd but powerful response you could offer would be to ask, “Is that statement true?” Remember, they just said, “That may be true for you, but not for me.” Is their statement true? If they say “no,” there’s nothing more to talk about, and it didn’t even make sense for them to bring it up. If they say “yes,” I would then ask, “Is your statement true for everyone or just for you?” (This starts to get into a tangled mess!) If the statement is true for everyone, how do they know that, and why should it be true for everyone and not just for them? After all, they just claimed your initial statement was only true for you and not for them, so how do they know their claim actually holds true for everyone? If the claim they made (“That may be true for you, but not for me”) is only true for them, it is completely nonsensical and quite meaningless. If their claim is true for everyone, the burden of proof is on them to defend such a universal, absolute claim.
Christians can confidently claim Jesus is the only way to God (and heaven) because the Bible very clearly makes that claim. In response, the skeptic may logically claim they don’t believe the Bible is truly the Word of God. (Their conclusion regarding Scripture may be incorrect, but it is not nonsensical to at least make the statement.) At this point, you have an objective subject to discuss - the Divine inspiration of the Bible - and can evaluate this proposition objectively (which we discuss in detail in many of our resources). If I believe the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the only way to heaven, that can’t possibly just be true for me but not for others because that option or view is ruled-out by the claim itself. In other words, the Bible doesn’t say it is God’s Word and Jesus is simply one way for SOME people to get to heaven. It says Jesus is the ONLY way for ALL people. This statement is either true for everyone or it is not. It is not logically possible to be true for some, but not for others.
Are you confused enough yet? Maybe not, but if so, reread the article sometime. It won’t take long before this type of a response “rolls off your tongue” in a future discussion. It just takes practice. The only reason I am at whatever “level” I am is not because of my intelligence but because of the amount of experience I’ve had in dealing with issues like these. Early on, I didn’t respond very well. I was always polite, but sometimes my answers were not well thought-out. Sometimes they were even flat-out wrong! But God is gracious and has helped me tremendously, not because I deserve it but simply because I am willing to be used and willing to do what He is calling me to do. You can easily do the same, and He will help you just as much as He has helped me!
In the meantime, if you have any questions about this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
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