Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Reality of Truth

In our search for truth we it is important that we recognize that most of the “truth” we hold as true is our interpretation of the data that we have received. I am not saying that absolute truth doesn’t exist but I am saying that truth isn’t as objective as we sometimes would like it to be. We realize that two people looking at the exact same data can come to two different conclusions. The reason is that we filter all this data through the filter of our experience and our emotions.

This is what Erwin McManus wrote in his book Soul Cravings:
In other words, for something to make sense to us, it cannot remain outside of us. We do not simply study information and then come to a conclusion; we absorb it and come to a personal interpretation of what is real.

I was listening to a lecture in which the speaker referred to studies in neuroscience that describe the process from which the human brain gathers and holds information. He explained that when the human brain absorbs information, that information is one part data and six parts emotion. Now that’s a fascinating thought--that everything we remember is wrapped around everything we experience. When you reflect on this, it makes perfect sense (Meaning; Entry #12: It’s All in How You Look At It).*

This is why, for many people, their relationships with the fathers affect their view of God. It can also account for people who leave the Way after some personal tragedy in their lives, their view of God and the Church becomes colored by their experience.

So what should this tell us? Faithful living and love are two important factors in conveying truth. Hard data is good and it is great that we have men and women involved in disciplines like apologetics and theology. These things are needed so we can have the information we need, but the way we live and the way we treat others provides the experience needed (for ourselves and others) to make that information truth in our lives.

Read what the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
17 Therefore, I tell you and insist on in the Lord not to live any longer like the Gentiles live, thinking worthless thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 Since they have lost all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to sensuality and practice every kind of sexual perversion without restraint. 20 However, that is not the way you came to know Christ. 21 Surely you have listened to him and have been taught by him, since truth is in Jesus. 22 Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old man, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new man, which was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Therefore, stripping off falsehood, “let each of us speak the truth to his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity to work. 28 The thief must no longer steal but must work hard and do what is good with his own hands, so that he might have something to give to the needy. 29 Let no filthy talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building up as the need may be. This way you will give grace to those who hear you. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. 32 And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:17-32; ISV)

Surrounding the command to “speak the truth” are commands to live obedient lives and to love people. It isn’t the lack of empirical evidence that comes between people and faith in Jesus, but it is a lack of experience in their lives.

I have to admit that the number one reason why I am still a Christian is because of the lives of other Christians. From the example of my family to the kindness of friends these experiences have made real the truth that is found in the Bible. That is why it is so important for us to live the life of faith and not just talk about faith. The truth depends on it.

  • Point to Ponder: Faithful living and love are two important factors in conveying truth.
  • Passage to Remember: Ephesians 4:17-32
  • Question to Consider: Does your life support the truth you believe?

* Soul Cravings is a book without page numbers. For reference I provided the title of the section and the entry number and title. I believe the McManus discussion on truth is worth the price of the book.

2 comments:

matthew said...

I've been reading for some time now and just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog. It moves me to read that you also attribute your continued faith to the lives of other Christians around you. I believe in Jesus not because His story makes the most logical sense (though it does) but because I have experienced Him, and continue to experience Him everyday through the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks for helping confirm my feelings!

Paul said...

Matthew,
Thanks for stopping by. I am glad that I can be an encouragement to you. That is my ultimate goal of this blog: to encourage fellow believers. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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