“I don’t believe in gravity” said he, the more adventurous one of the bunch. The Grand Canyon rim stood face to face with the party. His belief, like all true beliefs, led to action, he stepped from precipice into air, just like Wile E. Coyote. Now whether cartoon physics took over or not is unknown to me. Your imagination can fill in the conclusion, this story is totally fiction. The point of this tale is meant to illustrate beliefs don’t always match reality. In life, in society, in culture, this is becoming a more essential concept to share. Many live their life and think as our adventurous friend, faith forms truth.
We all know gravity exists, whether we think it does or not. The same is true with other aspects of reality. The same is true with Scripture, it is not true or false, accurate or inaccurate, real or unreal because we believe or don’t believe. Having faith to believe something is true does not make it true. Things in life are true because they are, or they are not true because they are not. Yes, we need good reasons to assess the truth of a claim, but truth is dependent upon reality, not upon our beliefs.
I understand that the truth of the Bible is dependent upon the fact of it really being true, not because of my belief. However, while I would say there are good reasons to hold to this position, for now I’m just going to assume it since reasons for this claim is not the topic of this article. Thus, it follows, that I would hold to the ideas that Jesus said were true too. How he presented the world is how it really is. So, I want to make the claim that since I think that Jesus’ view of the world is true, I would rather side with Jesus and those he trained to come after him than others. This includes past or present Christian leader, past or present Christian groups or past or present Christian tradition.
Since truth is truth, whether we like it or not and I think Jesus and the apostles spoke the truth, any deviation from that message is false. Now if you are a follower of Christ, you would agree me on this, because this is necessary to be a Christian and to hold to a Christian worldview. This concept of truth is biblical, truth is truth, no matter what we or others think. Consider the following passages:
Galatians 1:10 – For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 – But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
2 Corinthians 13:8 – For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
But That Is Just Your Interpretation!
Unfortunately, as Christians, we may say the above to get out of tight spots. But sometimes words don’t match one’s actions and ideas. I once pointed out a biblical passage to a small group of Christians and said “it says pretty clearly here that we should be doing this or that. But we don’t do it. Maybe we should be doing it.” One piped up, “well that’s just your interpretation,” as if that there was no correct way of reading the text, or his view was just as good as mine. Saving face, he did not want to address something that he did not like to see in the text because his belief and tradition said the opposite. Now, he could have been correct, but this passage was not really open for divergent views. Either it was true and right or not.
It seems to me that this oft abused phrase is designed not to aid the conversation, rather it is designed to shut down conversation. One illicitly “spiritual trumps” the other with it. The “that is just your interpretation” line also inadvertently says that there is no definitive and objective truth in the meaning of the text.
In Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey offers a razor-sharp analysis of the public/private split, explaining how it hamstrings our efforts at both personal and cultural renewal. Ultimately it reflects a division in the concept of truth itself, which functions as a gatekeeper, ruling Christian principles out of bounds in the public arena. She makes a passionate case that Christianity is not just religious truth but truth about total reality. It is total truth. Kindle, Hard Cover, Paper
My Truth And Your Truth
Sometimes I think we confuse personal preference with absolute truth, we think some things are true for one person but not for everyone. This is true to some extent. For example, I like chocolate ice cream. It is true that I like this flavor, but not everyone likes it. In one sense it is true for me but not for others. However, in another sense it is objective too, because while I am the one liking it, and others may not, it is true for everyone that Daniel likes chocolate ice cream. So in that sense it is objective.
However, when we come to the Bible, we do not have the option of saying “that is true for you but not for me” (unless it is speaking to a specific person or group of persons) or the spiritual versions “that is just your interpretation.” You see, when we, as all Christians, are commanded from Jesus and the apostles to do something, we really don’t have any other recourse. When we disobey, it strikes me that that makes us a non-follower of Jesus, because a follower is what it implies, one who follows his ways and commands. Thus, it seems to me, we are not really Christian if we continue to ignore his ways. I understand this may be a hard pill to swallow, especially in today’s society of relativism and “tolerance” and some trying to make the claim that Christians really don’t have to follow and obey Christ to be a Christian. However, over and over in the Bible we hear otherwise on these things.
I do understand there are really some things in the Bible that are unclear, and there are really good reasons on both sides of the argument. But many things are not this way too, they are clear.
For example, you can’t call yourself a follower of Christ if you continue to practice things like the following or think they are good and right to do:
Nor can you be Christian if you deny that Jesus is Christ, that Jesus was raised from the dead or Jesus is God who came in the flesh. Some things, including these, are nonnegotiable. I don’t really care what anyone else believes. These are nonnegotiable items in the Christian faith.
Yes, one can call one’s self a Christian, but that does not make that person one. A person can call himself or herself a turnip too, but it does not make him or her one. You can also go to church and sit in the pew, but that does not make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.
Of course you can “interpret” things differently than another, but using the basic laws of understanding and language, there are certain things that we all know and understand, and we don’t, at least we should not, come to the Bible really any other way. Thus, there are only certain ways of understating and reading some very basic and essential doctrines! These doctrines have been understood and believed since the infancy of the Church.
Let’s Get Serious, God Knows More Than We Do
So, this discussion on truth is setting up a much larger argument that I would like to talk about. I am laying a foundation. I am leveling the grounding. In some following posts I want to talk about Christian unity, denominations, who are those in the body of Christ and how we should treat fellow followers of Christ. In this series, I hope to offer proper thinking skills, like above, that will ultimately lead to my main point: Jesus’ often ignored apologetic that he told us all to do.
What I am about to share with you may go against your beliefs or the beliefs of someone you respect. If you disagree with what I’m about to share, I’m going to ask one simple question up front, who are you going to follow, Jesus or someone else? It can’t be both.
In fact, if you don’t agree (no, I’m not being paternalistic here, just being frank), you can’t be a true Christian. It seems to me that God knows more than we do. Thus if you don’t like what Jesus and the apostles taught, you will have to take it up with them, not me! I would suggest right now, purpose in your heart to follow Christ over any other sources of “wisdom”.
I have a passion to have answers for Christianity as Peter taught us to do. I would love for you to come along with me and not miss a post! In the future, I plan on giving more resources and answers you can share with both believers and unbelievers. Plus, I want to send you a Free Quick Guide why I think science points to God. I would love for you to have this Free Quick Guide and the latest posts straight to your inbox.
Is there something in your life that you thought was true, but once you researched it, you found out differently? Please share your thoughts below.