05 August 2008

Missing The Point Of Truth

Christians have “truth” but they often miss the point entirely. It’s like the guy who drives a petrol hogging, smog belching SUV but uses recycled-paper checks to pay the bill. You don’t have to be ecologically minded to see the contradiction. It appeases Green philosophies in one way and abuses them in another. It is like putting water in a bucket that has a large hole in the bottom. What’s the point?

Christians are guilty of this faulty logic also. We love the truth, or at least we give that idea lip surface often and very loudly, but the question is, which truth do you love and better yet, why do you love it? What’s your purpose? What’s the point?

Is the “truth” you love a tool or a weapon?

Does your management of truth enable diverse Christian groups to work together on common projects or does it turn these groups against each other?

Does the way you love truth bridge the gap between God and the people who don’t know Him or does it further alienate the relationship?

Do you worship God or do you worship the thoughts you entertain about Him?

“Truth” is important but it is never the point and the variations are limitless. There are as many different versions as there are groups to promote them. Consider the following partial list of possibilities:

  • Pre-millennialism, a-millennialism or post-millennialism. In reality, there are even more versions to choose from today and probably more yet to be developed.
  • Pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib rapture. Obviously, for some, no tribulation or rapture at all.
  • Calvinism or Arminianism (or something in-between).
  • Holy Spirit baptism simultaneous with salvation or subsequent to salvation, accompanied with tongues or not, including an infusion of power or not. Maybe an indwelling and not a baptism at all.
  • Healing on demand, only sometimes or no healing at all.
  • Church is local (visible), universal (invisible) or both, or replaced with kingdom concepts altogether.
  • Divorce never sanctioned (remarriage never allowed), sanctioned sometimes (remarriage may or may not be allowed) or dealt with graciously and kindly when it happens.
  • Tithing or no tithing (in which case you give more).

And many other ideas have been canonized stipulating what you can or cannot wear, what you can or cannot eat (or drink), where you can or cannot go, words you can or cannot say, how you act in church (quiet or loud, responsive readings or impulsive responses, kneeling or standing, head up or bowed, etc.).

To be a part of any particular group you must comply with THEIR particular way of truth and loyal compliance with one way often involves an explicit denial of every other way.

In the process, friction is generated and conflict escalates…between brothers. Whatever the point is, we have missed it entirely.

Here is a truth for you; there are many very good Christians representing every variation of the issues mentioned (not nominal Christians, good Christians). They love the Lord and His Word as much as any other Christian. They are not enemies, heretics, apostates or infidels. They differ, yes, but they still qualify as Christian brothers and sisters. They are family.

In my younger days, I did not see it this way. I was determined to articulate arguments not only for what I believed was THE truth but against everything else. I did what I thought was a passable job on a couple of issues but instead of clearing the air it was like pouring fuel on the fire.

In this post, I am purposely not mentioning any particulars of my belief system because once I do, every person of a different opinion may become alienated from the discussion, but not too worry. I’m not advocating a doctrinal vacuum. I am suggesting that we agree to disagree on some issues that we might work well together on others. I do believe some things very definitely and suggest you should also but not at the expense of the main point.

Our fascination with “doctrine” has created a kind of darkness which Jesus warned against. He said we must have a single focus. Instead, all the issues over which we argue have blurred our vision. It has blinded us to the main point.

The more right we think we are, the more belligerent we become. Issues are forced which don’t really count and people get hurt in the process. Fewer people are reached, humility is down played, consideration and respect for others is lost and ministry becomes a holy huddle rather than a real outreach to others.

According to history, this trend is not new. For ages Christians have been contending with each other (sometimes killing each other) over doctrinal differences. Instead of seeing the historical conflict for what it was, missing the point, we institutionalized it. We embrace the skirmish and teach conflict. In the process, we miss the point. And we are always surprised and flustered when non-Christians point this out.

We don’t easily get it but, fortunately, Jesus made THE point several times during His ministry. He said it different ways, managed to draw it out of others and New Testament writers repeated it after Jesus’ ascension. What is it??? Consider the following:

  1. You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself…
  2. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you…
  3. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another…
  4. Love one another with a pure heart fervently…
  5. Love your enemies…
  6. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer...

Any one of these statements alone makes the point. All of them together are condemning for anyone who misses it. You should never be ashamed of what you believe but be sure you don’t sincerely miss the point in the process.

Peter mentioned a list of eight things we should add to our faith. The last two on the list are “brotherly kindness” and “love” both of which are more relational than academic.

Here is the fact: Truth enables you to serve, care about and work with others better. It emphasizes the relationship and downplays the difference. If that isn’t the case you might be missing the point. ThinkAboutIt

By the way, Dark-Side Christianity feeds on the conflict. Bright-Side Christianity finds a way to emphasize the main point and avoid the conflict.


John Watts said...

You might also note two other things that Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, IF ye have love one to another." John 13:35 And ...

In Mark 9:38-40 we read of an incident in the life of Jesus where one of His Own Disciples seems to have been a "Dark-Sider.

"And john answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, than can lightly speak eveil of me. For he that is not against us in on our part."

We too must come to realize ... even if it takes years ... that not all of the "Disciples" or followers of Our Lord call themselves by the same Denominational name as we, and many of them may even believe some points of truth in just a little different way than we. They are NOT against the Lord so Jesus said, "Forbid him not."

The main point of our ministry is to preach Jesus Christ as "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." All the other things are minor and we would fare much better to major on the majors.

EnnisP said...

Thanks John. Great comment! Do you have a blog or web site? Include the URL in your link. I would like to visit it and I am sure others would also.

Tim said...

God loves all of humanity. How can we possibly think He is proud of us when our greatest efforts are aimed at tearing down, criticising and finding fault?
Good post.