Developing a 2020 Vision for the Church:
Truth and the Bible

by Dr. Bob Young
Thanksgiving 2017

Note: On the first Sunday of January 2000, I presented in a combined adult Bible class a list of items to be thoughtfully addressed if the church were to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand the list from that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles. Those articles are still available on this website: Foundations Series.
Almost 20 years later, it is definitely time for a rewrite. The question is still valid: how can the church be a viable voice in the contemporary world? What questions must we address? What understandings are essential for Christianity to survive and thrive in the world we know today? This new series is again being written as articles, but it is expected that the articles will also be useful as outlines for sermon series or seminar presentations.
In this new series, I write to set forth a 20/20 vision, so that we might see more clearly, and to set a goal to be accomplished by the year 2020. The next two years will fly by quickly. Will the church learn anything from what it has experienced? Can the apparent decline in Christianity be reversed? Will the church find renewed strength and resolve to present God's truth with boldness, daring, and sensitivity so that a new generations of Christians learn to live in the world without becoming worldly, to understand the call to unity and diversity, to renew the mission so the primary message is always one of eternal hope? Now is the time to begin working toward the reality God desires for his people.

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| Introduction | #1: Truth | #2: Bible Inspiration | #3: Bible Interpretation | #4: Church | #5: Unity | #6: Worldliness | #7: Christian Experience | #8: Mission | #9: Hope | #10: Human Nature | #11: Christian Living |

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First things first. First steps that are essential to establishing firm foundations. The church must understand the Bible. We as Christians must increase our Bible knowledge. The 1990s concern about biblical ignorance has not lessened. In our post-modern world, we must not only know what the Bible says, we must be prepared to ask hard questions and wrestle with 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 (and of our contemporary time) 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 created by God and given to us by God, 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. The Bible is truth. Every little piece of truth about every detail of the physical realm is not found in Scripture. The Bible is not a science book.

Ultimately the question must deal also with the relationship of reason to truth (and thus, 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 truth stand over reason or does reason stand over truth? Which is primary? Which directs the other? Only if Scripture stands supreme above human thought, every human device, and even the church, is the possibility of objective truth affirmed. Objective truth exists, truth that is objectively true whether you and I accept it, affirm it, or can see it.

Our post-modern world does not accept the view of truth set forth in the previous paragraph. In our world of tolerance, truth is seen as subjective. Your truth and my truth may not be the same. Modern thought says that something may be true for you but not for me. In this kind of culture, surrounding us and assaulting us and our children on every hand, we must stand firmly to affirm not only the possibility but the existence of objective truth. Truth exists, objective truth exists, 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 contemporary cultural problem with truth has come because religion has been moved from the public to the private arena. Religion has been pushed to the fringes in our society. The privatization 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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Last updated November 23, 2017