Note: On the first Sunday of January, 2000, I presented to a combined adult Bible class a list of items that the church must thoughtfully address if we are to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles which were published in the church bulletin. They are reprinted here in the hope they will be helpful to even more people. These may be freely used as deemed appropriate.
| Introduction | The Bible & Truth-#1 | Bible Inspiration-#2 | Bible Interpretation-#3 | Nature of Church-#4 | Possibility of Unity-#5 | Worldliness-#6 | Christian Experience-#7 | Christian Missions-#8 | Christian Hope-#9 | Human Nature-#10 | Christian Living-#11 |
The church must understand the Bible. We must increase our Bible knowledge. The 1990s concern about biblical ignorance has not lessened. In our post-modern world, we must not only know the Bible, we must ask concerning the nature of truth, the nature of Scripture, and the relationship of Scripture to human thought.
Extremes exist at either end of a polarity. Fundamental religious thinkers of previous times often gave the impression that they distrusted scholarship, including the scientific disciplines. Some tended toward an anti-intellectualism, perhaps even desiring or valuing ignorance. At the other extreme is an unthinking acceptance of science and reason, often to the exclusion of God and his Word. Is not all truth God's truth? Are not our minds God-given, a vital part of the divine image we bear? How shall we understand human reason? Is God insulted when we refuse to think? Do we not honor God most fully when we "think God's thoughts after him," as Johann Kepler stated it? The church must consider truth wherever it is found and integrate all truth into an understanding of God, our world, and ourselves.
Ultimately the question is one of the relationship of reason to Scripture. Since the Enlightenment, reason has generally been considered supreme in Western thought. (Prior to that, the Catholic church claimed to stand over Scripture as the interpreter of Scripture.) Does Scripture stand over reason or reason over Scripture? Only if Scripture stands supreme above human thought, human device, even the church, is the possibility of objective truth affirmed. There is a truth which is objectively true whether you and I accept it, affirm it, or can see it.
Our post-modern world does not accept this view of truth. In our world of tolerance, truth is subjective. Your truth and my truth may not be the same. Something may be true for you but not for me. In this kind of culture, assaulting us and our children on every hand, we must stand firmly to affirm not only the possibility but the existence of objective truth. There is truth which is objectively true whether I accept it, affirm it, or can even grasp it. The church must speak thoughtfully, but vociferously, for the possibility, even the probability, that the God of Scripture is the God of objective truth.
Some of the cultural problem with truth has come with the move of religion from the public to the private arena. The privitization of religion increases subjectivity. The very nature of truth demands that it be identified and proved in the public arena. Toward this end, the pushing of religion to the periphery of life has contributed to the rejection of objective truth. The church must actively support and encourage the return of religion to the public arena.
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