Thursday, May 10, 2007

Truth

"Do you know anybody who grew up in a religious environment, maybe even a Christian one, and walked away from the faith/church/God when they turned eighteen and went away to college?

Whenever I ask this question in a group of people, almost every hand goes up. Let me suggest why. Imagine what happens when a young woman is raised in a Christian setting but hasn't been taught that all things are hers and then goes to a university where she's exposed to all sorts of new ideas and views and perspectives. She takes classes in psychology and anthropology and biology and world history, and her professors are people who have devoted themselves to their particular fields of study. Is it possible that in the course of lecturing on their field of interest, her professors will from time to time say things that are true? Of course. Truth is available to everyone.

But let's say her professors aren't Christians, it is not a "Christian" university, and this young woman hasn't been taught that all things are hers. What if she has been taught that Christianity is the only thing that's true? What if she has been taught that there is no truth outside the Bible? She's now faced with a dilemma: believe the truth she's learning or the Christian faith she was brought up with.

Or we could put her dilemma this way: intellectual honesty or Jesus?

How many times have you seen this? I can't tell you the number of people in their late teens or early twenties I know, or those I have been told about, who experience truth outside the boundaries of their religion and abandon the whole thing because they think it's a choice (which is a fatal flaw in thinking we'll address in a moment). They are experiencing truth in all sorts of new ways, and they need a faith that is big enough to handle it. Their box is getting blown apart, and the faith they were handed doesn't have room for what they are learning.

But it isn't a choice, because Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life." If you come across truth in any form, it isn't outside your faith as a Christian. Your faith just got bigger. To be a Christian is to claim truth wherever you find it.

It's not truth over here and Jesus over there, as if they were two different things. Where we find one, we find the other. Jesus is quoted in the book of John saying "I and the Father are one." If Jesus and God are one, if Jesus shows us what God is really, truly like, and God is truth and all truth is God's truth, then Jesus takes us into the truth, not away from it. He frees us to embrace whatever is true and good and beautiful wherever we find it.
To live this way then, we have to believe in a big Jesus."


- taken from Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell




If you do not have a copy of this book, I would suggest you get it. You don't even have to agree with what he says, but I think it will open your eyes to things you wouldn't have thought of before. This passage changed my view of some things. What does it do to yours?

10 comments:

eaglewood said...

This can be quite a dangerous concept. How do we define what is true. Some things that we run into are subjective, such as other religions. They too, believe what they say is truth. How then do we separate that from the "real" truth? What if we decide to mix that “truth” with Christian faith? Are we not then guilty of heresy? To see my point just look at someone we know that has mixed Christianity with Buddhism. Taking the tenets of those faiths she likes and applying them to her life. To her they are truth. Truth has to have a standard, that Standard is Yeshua Himself. If it does not fit it is not truth.

I have never been much of a fan of Mr. Bell. He moves around the edges of mysticism in what he teaches. While I think it is a good idea to question what we are taught so that we may have a better understanding of G_d. (premise of Velvet Elvis) I question some of his teachings as being truly Biblical.

Roland said...

Have you actually read the book, Eaglewood?
Then how can you actually be sure?
Notice how I assume you haven't read it. It would definitely surprise me to find out you had read the whole thing. And I would apologize for my assumption.

Whether or not you believe truth to be true does not change whether or not it is true.

Go read the book. Surprise yourself.

thimscool said...

Your children are very lucky to have a father like you, Roland.

eaglewood said...

I have had a number of people recommend the book I have tried to read his book. It does not surprise me. Each time I try I have a check in my spirit. Over the years I have learned to listen to that check and then check the Word.

I do try to keep an open mind about what people say, But I always go back to scripture when it comes to things of faith. That is the standard, if it does not pass muster there then it is not truth.

Even the passage you excerpted from his book sets off the check.

As i said before it comes down to who defines the "truth". Is what Buddha teaches truth? Is what Mohamed teaches truth? Is what Rev. Moon teaches truth? Each of them would say yes and so would their followers. Does that make it truth?
That being said does that mean we should include those things in the Christian faith?
I could make a case that is exactly what Mr. Bell is saying with this passage. Mr. Bell has made references to believing in universalism in his writings which is a very dangerous heresy.

"Whether or not you believe truth to be true does not change whether or not it is true."
True, but conversely just because someone says it is the truth makes it truth.
I also want to ask you what the best lies contain. Think about if you wanted to lie, would not the best lie contain enough truth to make it believable?

I may try to read it again, but it would be way down on my reading list.

eaglewood said...

"but conversely just because someone says it is the truth makes it truth."

That came out wrong

but conversely just because someone says it is the truth does not make it truth.

Geppy said...

eaglewood,

To me, it sounds as if we probably have similar backgrounds. And it is good and right to base all truths in the Bible - which I too accept as known truth. But even in that known truth are untruths. And in other untruths are truths.

As my main pastor in all of life said once, the Bible records everything truthfully - even lies. In this statement he was not claiming that the Bible is full of lies or that it should not be trusted. In fact, he takes the Bible even more literally than I do. (And, oh yeah, that pastor is my dad - who I trust and respect greatly.)

And this is a touchy topic. We are all searching for truth now. Many search for any truth that is not the Bible and many of the original heresies are back again. But along with the heresies is a return to the original Christianity also. Christianity without Israel and Judaism is nothing, and yet Christianity has distanced itself so far from Judaism and even persecuted God's Chosen people.

Anyway, the Creator has revealed Himself to all man. All religions record this revelation to some extent and there is truth in all religions. There is also lies and distortions of the truth in all religions. Once man is involved the truth is always distorted. And man has been involved for over 2000 years - that's a lot of distortion.

Rob is attempting to reclaim the truth of God. May he have accepted some lies also - of course. Rob is only a man and cannot be perfect. But, God has blessed his ministry and used it greatly.

Rob is just one man that God is using to try to restore the truth of the Good News. We all need to try to understand the Good News to the best of our abilities. And remember something that Jesus himself said : "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward."

We do not have to accept everything Rob says, but God is using him. Therefore, there may be something there worth listening to.

Sorry to ramble, and this is of course my humble opinion.

Roland said...

Good ramble. Full of wisdom. Keep it up.

eaglewood said...

I really doc appreciate the attempts to educate me on Rob Bell. I do not doubt that he is a a believer, but I do think he teaches some very borderline things.
Being who I am I have a high sensitivity toward those things which are not Biblical truth.

I take my calling very seriously. The Word states that Christ is the truth,the way.and the life; and that no man will come to the Father except through Him. His Words not mine. So any religion that does not lead directly to Yeshua is a false religion, and no mater how much perceived truth it has it is still ultimately a lie. We cannot take portions of other religions and add them to ours. The only two that are even compatible are Judaism and Christianity.

Again the concept of universalism that Mr. Bell teaches is unscriptural and that is my main problem with his teachings. Those who get to know me know that I think there is a lot of wiggle room in the scriptures, so when I find a concept like this to be unsound at best and heretical at worst, those people do tend to try and find out why.

eaglewood said...

Please forgive the typing errors I hurt my thumb today and it is making it hard to type.

Geppy said...

Truthfully eaglewood, I don't think you have to like Rob at all. I'm sorry that did not come out in what I said. There are many good Christian leaders in the world that I don't really like; but I wouldn't try to say that they are heretical or such. (Which isn't to say that I have never said such things - or that I don't currently hold those opinions toward some teachers.)

My point is to be careful to also following Jesus commands that say that we need not worry about these other people. God will use who he will as he will. If they teach Jesus and God's Good News - leave it be.

We will always have disagreements, but none of us have a complete hold on God's truth. We should try not to focus our energies on dividing the church, but be happy in the Good News being preached.

This is not a criticism or attack on anyone. It is a statement of my opinion. We all deserve opinions, and we should all be open to encouragement and teaching. This is a sign of the Spirit within us. If we are closed to encouragement and teaching, then we should question if we are hardening our own hearts to God's instructions.

I congratulate you on your couple years of service at your home page. In all things, may God be honored and worshiped.

(BTW, I hope your thumb feels better - it is never a fun thing to type with sore appendages.) :)