The Referential Theory of Language and the Correspondence Theory of Truth

Douglas Groothuis describes the Correspondence Theory Of Truth as the assumption that “A belief or statement is true only if it matches with, reflects, or corresponds to the reality to which it refers. For a statement to be true it must be factual. Facts determine the truth or falsity of a belief or statement.” For Groothuis, this theory harmonizes with the presuppositions he finds in Scripture: “The Bible does not relate a technical view of truth, but it does implicitly and consistently advance the correspondence view in both testaments.”[10]

The Referential Theory Of Language states that words refer to, rather than create, reality and the communicator’s intent is considered the proper meaning of the communication. Language is not viewed as an ambiguous event open to individualized “meanings.” Justin Taylor finds the referential theory of language similarly presumed in Scripture:

Nothing could be clearer from the New Testament, it seems to me, than the idea that God has given us universally-true doctrinal revelation that can be understood, shared, defended and contextualized. ‘The faith’ has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We are to guard the ‘good deposit’ entrusted to us (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14), instructing in ’sound doctrine’ and rebuking contrary doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1). False doctrine is associated with conceit and ignorance (1 Tim 6:3-4), and we are commanded not to be tossed to and fro by its winds (Eph. 4:14).[11]

Although many aspects of modernism cannot blend with Christian faith and have therefore been rejected by evangelicals, the Correspondence Theory Of Truth and Referential Theory Of Language harmonize with the content of Scripture: God has given us unqualified, objective, eternal truth in the Bible. His Word is truth (John 17:17). We can know what it says and what it means, and what God wants us to know by it. While Christians may adjust methodology to reach any given culture most effectively, theology, spirituality, and morality must remain loyal to the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints (Jude 3).