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“TRUTH” AND SURVIVAL OF THE CHURCH


What will insure that the church survives? Will it be our programs and propositions? Or will it be the faithfulness of Him who gives the increase when we plant and water the seed of His kingdom?

As one who is committed to truth, the following caught my eye from among several comments & links in Tim Archer’s Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts today.

Will Evangelicalism Last?

For one thing “Truth” is not rational abstraction — a concept, doctrine, or idea you can write down — especially not one which you conveniently have right and everyone else conveniently has wrong. Truth-as-a-rational-abstraction constitutes a denial of the incarnation (and big chunks of the New Testament). Doctrines and theologies can point to the truth but they are not themselves the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. Truth is a person. Jesus is the Truth.

Many in the churches of Christ would deny that “we” should be classed among the Evangelicals  though we hold many things in common to them. Nevertheless, I clicked on the link and read the article. I think you might enjoy doing that as well by clicking here.

The author, Tim Suttle, points to the countless divisions in Protestantism. We in the churches of Christ, while beginning as a ‘unity movement,’ have also in practice shown a proclivity to division. Then Suttle asks:

 If we refuse to organize around doctrinal statements, if we admit that in the hands of immature people these statements are just a means of power and control, then what can hold us together?

The answer, I believe, is mission.

Mission is this rich confluence of orthodoxy and orthopraxy [that is, practicing Truth, not just teaching it – Jerry], where the truth ceases to be a rational abstraction and becomes embodied in concrete communities of action who are able to work together despite doctrinal differences. Mission begins with the recognition that the center of Christianity is Jesus Christ and his mission of redemption. Mission should constitute the evangelical center. I’m talking about justice, mercy, faith and living in allegiance to the Gospel. If we join together around the pursuit of those things, then we will see how much we have in common.

I believe his article has much to say to “us” in the churches of Christ.

By putting Jesus and following Him at the center of how we define ourselves, as opposed to defining ourselves by the doctrines we hold,  we come close to what Jesus said to His disciples when He was in the shadow of the cross:

Love one another, as I have loved you. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34)

As Suttle points out, Truth is not a dogma, but a person. The Bible is not The Truth, but instead faithfully witnesses to Him who is Truth (cf. John 14:6). When the church leaves its first love, it is in danger of having its candlestick removed by Him who walks in the  midst of His golden candlesticks.

Why is there this danger? It is because there is no purpose for having a light-holder when it is not holding light. When we cease to be “the light of the world” and “a city set on a hill that cannot be hid,” there is no need for a candlestick for us. When that happens, we do not survive as His church.

These thought are in line with what I wrote in some of my earliest posts here and here. We need to keep coming back to these truths about Him who is Truth incarnate.

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10 Responses

  1. Jesus is about “love” and “truth” but He is not truth; by definition, truth is fact and or reality, something that is or was.

    • How do you read John 14:6?

      • Jesus is the way to the truth, Jesus is the way to life eternal, it is through and because of Jesus’ sacrifice that one has the opportunity to learn and enter His Kingdom and there is no other way than through
        The Christ our high priest to access God the father of us all.

  2. Kattie, Jesus is the ultimate reality. He said (John 14:6), “I am the way, the truth, and the Life,” He Himself is the Truth, as opposed to “facts” about Him, those should be true. Truth is found in Him, not in knowing facts about Him. For too long too many have been content to know facts without knowing Him.

  3. Maybe your understanding is that Jesus is truth because he was/is real? Jesus is the source for all truth about God, Holy Spirit, His Kingdom, and about how one gains access to His kingdom. and the last days as He related in the inspired written words of The Bible.
    I will look up Wayne Jackson’s analysis and be back to you.

    • Katie, While I may respect the knowledge of men, their analysis cannot override the simple words of Jesus for me. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He did NOT say “I am the Way to Truth and Life.” Just as He is Life, He is also Truth incarnate.

  4. I guess it is all semantics which I am not able to explain. Yes, the truth is in Christ in that He teaches and commands how one obeys–hear, believe, confess, repent past sins, and baptism to continue in life with learning & studying. He was a wonderful teacher on earth and we have His words in writing for ever and ever.

    • But, Katie, Jesus is far more than a teacher of truth. He Himself IS Truth. You see, Truth is not just some things we should or shouldn’t do. Truth is walking with Jesus and In Him. He is the ultimate Reality on whom all other things depend.
      Jerry

  5. I received the following from Kattie by direct e-mail. I believe she would approve my sharing it with you.

    Hi Jerry, have tried several times to get to Word Press, Committed to the Truth
    and your articles, but can not find my way there. Would you be so kind as to tell
    me or instruct me how to find my way there. In the meantime I have this for you.
    Truth is a quality; Jesus is a person. The term
    “truth” in Jn. 14:6 is a metaphor.
    Sent to me in reply to my question from http://www.christiancourier.com
    As I said it is all semantics, knowing the languages and their very precise grammar and
    idioms, and etc. but my abilities in this area are very limited but know enough to realize
    a problem. Hope this helps. Jesus speaks ‘truth’ and he represents truth as written
    in the Bible but he is not truth, but as written in the Bible it is used as a metaphor,
    “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea
    in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them”

    It took a little time before I received a reply. Not trying to make trouble but this is why
    we need people like Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier, who can clarify language problems.

    • I responded to the above as follows:

      Go to http://www.committedtotruth.wordpress.com

      To say only that Jesus speaks truth elevates “truth” to something Jesus serves and that is independent of Him. When he said He is “the Way,” does “the Way” exist apart from Jesus and independently of Him? When He said He is “the Life,” does Life that is truly Life exist apart from Jesus and is independent of Him?

      If you answer yes to these questions, I ask “Then why did Jesus come and why did He die?”

      If you answer no to those questions, I ask “Then why do you say that Truth exists apart from Jesus and independently of Him?”

      My understanding of Jesus’ relationship to Truth is that He is indeed the incarnation of Truth for apart from Him there is no Truth, no reality.

      I would add the following to the above:

      To say that Jesus merely testifies to truth without Himself being Truth incarnate is dangerously near to a very Gnostic concept of Jesus, Truth, and Reality. I care not if a dozen like Wayne Jackson point you in that direction. Is John’s statement that “God is love” merely a metaphor since “love is a quality and not a person”? Does love exist apart from God? Or do “we love because he first loved us”? Love originates in God and proceeds from Him. So Truth is in Jesus. Apart from Jesus and His Father, there is no Truth. Does Jesus testify to Truth? Yes, He does. Does the Holy Spirit testify to Truth? Of course He does, for He testifies to Jesus.

      I stand by what Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

      By the way, on March 1, Katie also wrote something that is all too common among many members of the churches of Christ:

      “Yes, the truth is in Christ in that He teaches and commands how one obeys–hear, believe, confess, repent past sins, and baptism to continue in life with learning & studying.”

      Katie, hearing, believing, confessing, and being baptized have no meaning apart from the Christ. What does one hear? What does one believe? What does one confess? Into what is one baptized? And even repentance comes because of the goodness of God (Romans 2:4), which is shown to us in the Christ. When you try to distinguish between “the Plan” and “the Man” you have a distinction without a difference. Apart from “the Man” there is no “Plan.”

      Jerry

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