Wednesday, August 19, 2009

never arriving at a knowledge of the Truth

2 Tim. 3:5-9 (ESV)
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. [6] For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, [7] always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. [8] Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. [9] But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

“Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of truth.” Oh, how sick society is today. I can’t tell you how sick I am of people telling me that doctrine doesn’t matter, because we can’t be completely right. No one has the whole truth. They use this to defend their own insecurities, while at the same time holding to doctrines that have been shown to be false. They will quote “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12 (ESV) They see it as a mark of spiritual pride that someone believes they are so right they have the audacity to correct and rebuke another for false doctrine, as Paul instructs Timothy to do. This is a wholly corrupt way of looking at scripture, that prays on weak women, and effeminate men.
Paul, is not giving license in 1 Cor. 13:12 to doubt doctrines as they are clearly laid out in Scripture. There is truth that we can arrive at, even as we spend a lifetime learning the Christian faith. The truth is Christ, He is true and so are his words. Luther’s Small Catechism for instance, distills the truths of the Christian faith from Scripture. It is a bedrock of truth. We can know these truths, even as we constantly learn more about them. Sasse, once wrote something to the effect that the Christian faith is simple enough for the youngest child, and the most mentally handicapped to believe and know, while at the same time being rich enough that the Thomas Aquinases, Martin Luthers, and Augustines of the world can spend a life time learning and never plumb its depths. But to not even be able to say of Christ’s words, in light of his resurrection, that this is most certainly true, leads one to uncertainty. There are things that will be revealed to us in heaven, things we believe to be true, but have a hard time understanding will be cleared up for us in heaven. In the meantime, we do have truth, we have arrived at it through the grace of Christ, and his clear word recorded in Scripture. There is no reason to doubt his word even if we do have a hard time understanding it. The Trinity is a prime example of one such doctrine, so is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There is truth, and we can arrive at it, and should have no problem proclaiming it, and critiquing others on the basis of it. If their doctrine clearly contradicts scripture it is false. To say no one can have it all right, as an excuse to hold onto false doctrine is despicable and unbecoming of a Christian.


Brigitte said...

I think Jesus had this talk with Pilate.

Steve Martin said...

Amen, Bror.

He is the Truth.
The Bible proclaims the Truth.

It is our source for Truth and for all matters in faith and life

Bror Erickson said...

Yes, Brigitte, I think you are right.
Isn't it amazing. People just don't get that. I have to wonder at times, when scripture is so clear on an issue, and people say well you can't be 100% right. Who cares what I am, I'm talking about the Bible here, and I think the Holy Spirit can be.

Dawn K said...

"I can’t tell you how sick I am of people telling me that doctrine doesn’t matter, because we can’t be completely right."

To say that I am sick of hearing this very sort of thing is the understatement of the year. This is all that I hear from my friends and family members, whether they are liberal Methodists or conservative baptist evangelicals. I really do think the common thread to this sort of sentiment is the pietism that is common to all these traditions (I posted on this a while ago here. As long as you are living a moral life and have a personal relationship with Jesus, according to the pietist, doctrine does not matter. All that you wind up with is at best a sort of gospel minimalism ("all that matters is that we believe in Jesus") or at worst complete liberalism where historic facts are denied in favor of one's inner experience.

How do we combat this sort of thinking? It seems to have completely pervaded American Christianity. As a relatively new Lutheran who believes that doctrine is vitally important this sort of thing is very discouraging.

Bror Erickson said...

Dawn K,
Great Post on Pietism, it is true, pietism and liberalism are kissing cousins, but I wouldn't kiss either of them if they were the Barbie twins. They leave a bad taste in your mouth.
In any case you ask how do you put an end to this kind of thinking. That is a tough one. But I think it starts when you take doctrine seriously, the bug can be contagious. Unfortunately you will get a reputation for being nasty as you debate and argue with family and friends over whats right. But keep the focus on how does this effect Justification by Faith alone, or the gospel. Luther is helpful in this too, with his answer to "Lead us not into temptation." In one short line he shows the devestating effects of false doctrine. "That God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into False Belief, despair, and other great shame and vice." Here he labels correctly false belief, false doctrine, as a great shame and vice. Notice he attacks doctrine here, directly and carnal temptations take a back seat. There is a progression here, first false belief, you have to work or do something, then despair, "I haven't done enough," then other great shame and vice, "I'm going to hell anyway, may as well have fun doing it." The fact is the other great shames and vices are often nothing more than an attempt to numb the pain of despair.