Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thoughts on Truth

Ways people have historically understood truth:
1. Authority
This was the primary way that people understood Truth in the medieval period. In this period, the authorities were trusted to understand the Truth; the common man was not. Truth is linked closely with a power structure under an authority.

This was the primary understanding of the Catholic Church. The Catholics say that it is the Pope who had the right to say whether or not something is true. The problem here is when the Papal community was obviously corrupt. Once the popes authority becomes compromised, Truth can become very quickly distorted. Which is what happened toward the end of the medieval period.

The Reformers, particularly Hus and Luther stood up and said the pope is wrong, and that simple reason and logic partnered with study of the Bible could explain what was true.

2. Logic/Reason
Logic and reason are the staple of understanding how truth is talked about in the modern era; truth is logical and rational. Truth has a strong relationship with Math and Science in this way of thinking.

This way of understanding truth is in an abstract form of truth. It is based in logical and reason, and neither of those are tangible. Truth becomes in this way of thinking static, and unchanging. It also becomes disconnected.

Post-modern thinkers reject truth in this light. There is a grass roots movement of “po-mo’s” who disagree that there is an objective truth out there. Truth as an abstract immutable force in post-modern thinking just does not exist. Truth must be seen as something that is to be experienced.

3. Experience
The primary way of introducing ones self to truth in the post-modern mindset is through Experience. One does not know truth by being told what to believe about Truth, not by following a logical ascent to Truth, but by experiencing Truth. Truth cannot be separated from experiencing it.

This is the conversation that many Christians are having today. They are talking to Christians who are based in a logical and rational ways of understanding Christianity. The problem is that these Christians are looking for abstract conversations about the nature of truth, which the post-modern mindset does not want to have. To the post-modern thinking Truth, cannot exist unless there is a subject experience.

I do not believe that post-modern thinkers deny that there is Truth; I think that they do not understand Truth as an abstract reality. It has to be tied to flesh and blood.

The way that I think many people approach these three descriptions is to ask the question, “Is one way of understanding Truth more right than either of the other two?” To which I wonder is that the right question?

I believe that to understand truth all three ways methods must be applied. Each of the three methods is flawed and can lead to abuses. Each of the three methods checks and corrects the other two. When one becomes primary (i.e. logic and reason in the modern mindset) abuses become evident, and Truth itself becomes distorted.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Left and right and wrong

So recently Jerry Falwell died. Jerry was the founder of Liberty University, Thomas Road Baptist Church, and the Moral Majority. Right after he died, I went to the New York Times website and read comments people made about his life-people honestly did not like him. In more than one post, Falwell was compared to Hitler!

Now I understand that the Gospel is not supposed to be popular, and we’re not supposed to be trying to be liked; but the level of hate that people were attributing to Farwell was shocking to me. In no way should a follower of Jesus life a life that they could be compared to an evil dictator.

The reason that Falwell was attacked was because he stood up for what he believed. In fact, that was the purpose of the Moral Majority. He wanted to motivate those with moral opinions to stand up for what they believe and vote conscious, which actually what most people applaud.

I respect Falwell’s integrity. Al Sharpton, Falwell’s ‘political opposite’ in a public address even had the same remarks. I only will say this: I do not believe it is the way of Jesus.

Luke 10 is where Jesus sends out the disciples to spread his message concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. It is here He gives his followers the method by which they are to spread the message. He gives these commands:

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’

This is what I see Jesus telling His disciples: Go out, give evidence of the Kingdom of God, and then explain the sign by saying, ‘the kingdom of God is near.’ This is Jesus instruction on how to spread the kingdom.

Jesus does not tell his followers to debate moral issues with people they come in contact with. He simply tells them to give evidence that God’s kingdom is here. To Jesus truth of the kingdom is not in the weight of the argument for it, but in evidence of its presence. This is why I think that political coercion is not the way of Jesus.

Coercion is defined as ‘the use of force or threats to make people do things against their will and force used to make somebody do something against his or her will.’

Does this seem to be what Jesus is telling his followers to do?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Personal Manifesto

Here is my personal statement of belief that I have been working on:

I believe we live in a broken, fractured world. Death and destruction are all around us. It seems that living is a monumental task, as even nature itself is looking to kill us. Death has become the only thing in life that is guaranteed.

I believe this brokenness is the result of the sin that we all deal with. The root of sin is self. At the root of every sin is the placing of self and selfish wants over the laws of God, and the welfare and concern of others.

The first human beings sin, and by sinning have broke the relationship that they had with God. The result of the fracture is the basic peace that was between Man, God, and Creation. I believe that individual sins also lead to systematic evils that we see in the world. Humans have created systems that oppress other humans. Racism, sexism, ageism all factor into the systems that are used to oppress those around us.

This is the story of man. We see from creation one generation and humans are killing each other. We also see that that almost as soon as there is any type of organization in the world, it is used for evil (the Tower of Babel). Every organization that man has created ends up in some way oppressing others; even the organized church has participated in oppression.

God’s motion has always been towards humanity. Even as the first man and woman sinned, God was right there taking the first steps towards healing and restoration. While humanity is continually finding different ways to make the break larger, God has continually chasing after his beloved creation.

The ultimate sign of God’s pursuit of humanity is the person of Jesus. Christians believe that what God wanted for the world, we find this in Jesus. We believe that His life was lived perfectly, without sin. Thus empowering him to be able to stand against the brokenness and sin that is in the world. Jesus then told his followers to be like he was.

Jesus in his stand against the brokenness and oppression he saw, was betrayed, arrested, falsely charged, and crucified by those he was calling out. From heaven, God saw Jesus to vindicate him raised him from the dead. We believe that it is by the power of this resurrection the sin and brokenness of this world has been defeated. It is through the power of this resurrection that sin and brokenness in our individual lives can be healed.

This is the core of what it means to be a Christian. We follow Jesus’ lead in standing against the sin and brokenness in the world. We become the agents of restoration and life standing against the sin and brokenness in the world.

Christians need to stand up for healing and restoration, but this does not imply that we fight against the evils that are around us. What I mean is that we be agents of healing and restoration. Instead inciting conflict, we instead spread the love of God for the world. Our healing and restoration process should not result in conflict-this is only bringing more brokenness.

What do you think? Does this sum up what we're about as Christians?